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Elections are a chance to let your voice be heard

With every election comes new opportunities.

It’s a cliché and probably redundant for me to say this, but now more than ever we need to know who is running for City Council and their positions on the issues.

I’m leading here with one of the most important issues: rebuilding our economy. Yes, the virus is an issue, but thanks to our great health care providers, things appear to slowly be improving. But if our business community isn’t well, it doesn’t matter how healthy we feel.

It’s been almost a year since our businesses have been impacted with restrictions and being shut down. Many businesses had no income for months and some are still trying to operate at reduced capacity, and that not only means no money or large revenue reductions for the business owners, but their employees as well. Fortunately, many businesses received Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and other sources of federal, state and even local funding through the city and county.

I might sound a bit edgy, but it is my job to advocate and support our local businesses. When I started this job, I served two roles: chamber director and heading up the economic development effort before the chamber was restructured. I learned deep in my soul there’s no quality of life unless there’s quality of jobs. We always tout our quality of life here, but as the old saying goes, “you can’t eat the scenery.”

This brings me to my main point: We need to continue great leadership within our city.

There are three seats on the Durango City Council open this year. (Dean Brookie is term-limited, Chris Bettin is not running, and Melissa Youssef is able to run and has announced her candidacy.)

Petitions to run for the City Council are now available at www.durangogov.org. Candidates need 25 signatures, and the petitions need to be returned by Feb. 9. The election is April 6, and before that the chamber will host an Eggs & Issues forum on the morning of March 4, so you can get a look at the candidates and hear their platforms.

I urge everyone to support candidates who have business experience, who know what it takes to run a small business in Durango and who want to focus on keeping Durango in business. I’m not against building more trails or locking in more open space or funding recreational facilities. Goodness knows, that’s my background and I’ve loved it. Electing city councilors who understand business and basics of economics is necessary as we continue to recover from the pandemic. If our businesses are booming, we will all benefit and enjoy the many amenities through increased sales tax collections.

We need leaders who advocate for us earning a viable living here in the town we love. Let’s grow the businesses we have here already, and not lose them. I invite you to check out Economic Gardening at https://bit.ly/3aaEMcV; the concepts began with Chris Gibbons right here in Colorado

We want our quality of life to be sustained, so we must sustain our businesses.

Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at jack@durangobusiness.org.