I am a County Commissioner from District 2 (Durango and surrounding areas) having grown up on cattle ranch and farm in Lewis, Colorado north of Cortez. My goal in serving in office is to build healthy communities and a strong economy to benefit all residents in La Plata County. Since affordable housing is such a pressing issue, I serve on the Board of Directors for the multi-jurisdictional Regional Housing Alliance. We have made great strides in bringing more resources into the county; coordinating efforts; assessing the need; and advocating for housing policy.
Recognizing that a rapidly-changing climate has impacts for forest health, drought, and wildfire risk, with my fellow Commissioners and working with the City of Durango and the Durango Fire Protection District, I helped establish the Wildfire and Watershed Protection Fund (WWPF) in 2021 to carry out landscape-scale mitigation work on private and public lands throughout La Plata County. The project has received over $2,000,000 in funding for local mitigation work.
Because substance abuse disorders are impacting students, families and entire communities, I am a founding member of the SouthWEST Opioid Response District (SWORD) Board of Directors. This regional collaborative accepts and deploys State of Colorado opioid settlement(s) funds for use in getting more services for residents across southwest Colorado including future recovery housing and supports for those in recovery.
La Plata County has a rich agricultural heritage and local food movement. And, as a 4-H member for 10 years in my youth, I bring those experiences serving as the liaison to the Colorado State University (CSU) local Extension Advisory Council.
I served on the Board of San Juan Basin Public Health for three years until the entity dissolved on Dec. 31, 2023, replaced by two county-operated health departments including the La Plata County - Department of Public Health and a department in Archuleta County. This has been a massive undertaking and one I am very proud of. Public health is strong in our county!
Working with both the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribes, two sovereign nations with lands in La Plata County, is a high honor. I am on the State of Colorado's Commission on Indian Affairs as an Ex-Officio Member.
In order to raise La Plata County residents' concerns to the State Level, I actively serve on the land use, human services and public land steering committees for Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) and am involved with Counties and Commissioners Acting Together (CCAT). Both of these statewide lobbying groups work on issues that impact us: affordable housing, wildfire, health care and human services, general government, public lands and more.
Prior to being elected to office office, I was a professional facilitator leading numerous meetings and complex stakeholder processes to address a wide range of public issues. Several of my key accomplishments include: Hermosa Creek Workgroup; Firewise Southwest Colorado (now Wildfire Adapted Partnership) Southwest Trails Roundtable; La Plata Community Clinic; to name a few. From 1994—2000, I was executive director for six years of a regional nonprofit Operation Healthy Communities (OHC), a group that helped complete projects to foster healthy communities.
My past volunteer experiences include the La Plata County Fiscal Needs Committee; Airport Planning Advisory Committee; County Road and Bridge Campaign Issues Committee; La Plata Community Clinic; United Way Fundraising Committee; Big Brothers/Big Sisters of La Plata County; La Plata Historical Society; Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado; and the Durango Food Bank.
I am honored to have won awards including: 2009 Colorado State Forest Service Statewide Partner of the Year; the 2009 Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County Service to Youth Award; and the Leadership La Plata Barbara Conrad Leadership Award in 2006.
My education includes holding a Bachelors of Arts degree in Social Work from Colorado State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Denver (Denver campus program) and I am a 2001 graduate of Leadership La Plata. I am a 1993 graduate of the Grassroots Leadership Program spearheaded by the Community Resource Center (CRC America). I am a trainer for Leadership La Plata around the topics of conflict resolution and negotiation.
With my husband John Norton, who is a Fort Lewis College graduate from the School of Business, we moved to Durango in 1994 to escape Denver’s crime and pollution. My hobbies: hiking and getting outside; herding two cats on a ¼ acre; camping and 4-Wheeling; xeriscape gardening; cooking; and catching the occasional PBS show.
Please note: While I am the District 2 candidate for re-election, County Commissioners serve all residents in the county no matter where they live.
Date: January 2024