In her bid to become the La Plata County commissioner for District 3, Julie Westendorff has spared no expenditure of energy. For the last 18 months, she has attended virtually every county meeting, official and otherwise, gotten to know the department heads and key county staff – and the relevant issues each of these staff members deals with and is concerned about. This work has left Westendorff with a clear and detailed picture of what the county needs to address in the coming year.
Her wide-ranging experience as a prosecutor, a judge and a real estate agent and her pragmatic approach to problem-solving prepare her well for handling those issues effectively and diplomatically. She is an excellent choice for the La Plata County Board of Commissioners.
Westendorff sees two levels of focus for the board: that of policy and that of practical matters. The former informs the latter, and it is her aim to improve the county’s policies where needed so doing business with and within the county can be similarly smoothed. Specifically, Westendorff hopes to boost the county’s economic vitality and diversity by improving the land-use code to make the planning process more predictable and efficient.
That is a refrain heard among many county commission candidates and reflects the frustration business owners and residents from across the political spectrum have expressed when trying to navigate the byzantine system.
That challenge is made worse by the county’s lack of a comprehensive plan, a shortcoming Westendorff aims to rectify by providing leadership from the commissioners to ensure that a plan is put in place. That plan, she says, should anticipate and talk about the issues the county is likely to face in the coming years, including an uptick in the number of seniors living in the county and the associated services they will need, health-care costs, and access, transportation, housing and economic development.
These are critical issues that will need to be addressed over the short and long term, and Westendorff is more than prepared to weigh in meaningfully and effectively, building on the county’s past successes and rectifying its mistakes.
As she said, “I view getting elected to the county commission as the passing of the baton, and I am running at full speed to take that baton.” She deserves a leg in the race.
Her opponent, Harry Baxstrom, was born in Montezuma County and got his bachelor’s degree from Fort Lewis College. A veteran and a veterinarian, he knows La Plata County and its people.
Baxstrom deserves credit for making this effort. The back and forth of a contested race keeps all involved honest and on their toes. In terms of public policy, however, Westendorff has the clear advantage.
Vote for Julie Westendorff for La Plata County commissioner.