From a very young age, I have cared deeply about people and the communities we reside in. I studied Sociology and Public Policy at the University of Denver, with the hopes I could learn more about people, especially those underrepresented and marginalized, and how to make systems and policy work for them. I have spent 12 years of my life working and volunteering for non-profit organizations such as Hunger Free Colorado, The Bell Policy Center, and the Colorado People’s Alliance for much the same reason: a desire to serve my community.
As a Colorado native and lifelong RTD rider who never had a personal vehicle, RTD has been critical to my professional and personal life in Colorado: from trips to the grocery store, to that final job interview. It is because I care about RTD and what it can offer for riders, that I am running for the RTD Board of Directors for District H.
I am running because I see: A transit system not doing its part to help address the growing pains of a booming population; Our sales tax dollars propping up a bloated bureaucracy instead of improving our services; RTD riders struggling with an expensive and cumbersome system that doesn’t go where they need to go.
I am running because I have the energy, the passion, the knowledge, and the drive to make RTD a better system for all of us.
Transit is the circulatory system of a community. It transports people and resources to important sectors across many cities and counties. When this system isn’t in good health, our communities suffer. RTD has many challenges right now, with decreasing ridership, driver shortages, services delays, etc. RTD also has many opportunities, to re-think what transit looks like in the Denver /Metro area and beyond. My platform will be partially shaped in the coming months by you and your concerns with RTD, but will also be founded on some core areas:
Do you know who your current RTD Director is? Do you know what RTD is doing for your community right now? RTD needs to share more information with community members and be more transparent about budgetary decisions, proposed route changes and cuts, and internal policy. The interests of riders need to be considered first before other priorities, and we need to be clear on the levers influencing decisions.
RTD is pricing itself out of existence by making our transit one of the most, if not the most, expensive in the country. $10 fares for a one-way trip to the airport is laughable to people from other cities. RTD’s budget cannot be balanced on the backs of riders who depend on this service for daily commutes to work, childcare, groceries, etc. As a primarily tax-payer funded service, RTD needs to rethink its approach on making an affordable and accessible transit system.
As Colorado continues to grow in population, RTD plays a critical role in our future. How can RTD help curb traffic congestion and travel efficiency? How can RTD contribute to conversations about affordable housing close to public transit, transit-oriented development, public health, and environmental sustainability? If we are not thinking ahead now, we will fall behind tomorrow.
We have a wonderful spirit of innovation, community, and fairness in Colorado, and I bring that same spirit with me in my leadership style. Whether as a candidate or elected official, I plan to demonstrate my approach to problem solving and decision making with these 5 pillars:
1. Servant Leadership
Elected officials ought to be servants to their community. That means amplifying your voice on important decisions. That means putting your needs and concerns ahead of my own interests. That means putting more power in your hands, instead of monopolizing it for myself.
2. Co-Governance, aka “Nothing About Us, Without Us"
I believe the people who are experts in how a system works, are those that are directly impacted by that system. A great leader co-governs with those affected by rules and decisions, by sharing information, proactively seeking out input, and democratizing decision making. We can’t make good policies without the feedback of RTD riders, taxpayers, and community members.
Leadership often means making tough choices and trying to find the best solution out of imperfect options. Whatever our decision, leaders should always do our best to reduce or eliminate potential harm to anyone affected by a policy, and to magnify its benefits. It’s my job to navigate the forest of multiple interests and constituencies, creating a pathway to positive change.
3. harm reduction
4. lasting change
Leaders must always keep our eyes partly on the horizon, anticipating future needs and concerns so we are not stuck solving the same problems over and over again. We have to not only think about how our decisions impact the present, but also how they impact the future. We have to not only think about our own service, but how we will advance the conversation for those that come after.
To me, being an elected official was never supposed to be about status or self-enrichment. It was supposed to be about the community you care about, and what we can accomplish together. It was supposed to be about the joy of being together in community to hear one another, and to solve problems together. We need to reconnect with each other, not just as a state, but as a society that feels increasingly isolated and misanthropic. Policy is serious, but politics doesn’t need to be.