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Marsha Porter-Norton 

La Plata County Commissioner

Candidate for Re-Election, District 2 Seat 


Proven Leadership for

Healthier Communities and a Strong Economy

2024 Platform  

Our county is a great place to live. I am working to make it even better and to create healthier communities and a strong economy - for all. La Plata County faces big challenges: rapid growth, a changing economy, drought and climate change, out-of-reach housing prices, and the need for provision of services to a growing population.  


Since being elected, I have been tackling these challenges by rolling up my sleeves and getting things done for everyone. Please refer to the "Accomplishments" button. I will continue to work for the priorities listed below. Also, I will carry out my service to constituents with transparency and integrity and a focus on results. 

Grow an Economy that works for Everyone

Together, we need to grow and bring good jobs to La Plata County to improve quality of life and create healthier communities for all.


My plan is to: 

  • Continue to improve County planning processes.

  • Be a champion for infrastructure. County roads and bridges are the county’s largest asset and we must ensure sustainable, available resources.

  • Link job growth to action on affordable/workforce housing and availability of childcare and transit -- necessary components of a truly healthy community.  

  • Support development where infrastructure exists. 

  • Implement the policy that "growth pays its own way."  

  • Keep the Durango-La Plata County Airport vibrant and growing by backing current plans for upgrades and expansion. 

  • Keep marshalling resources to expand broadband to the entire county, with partners. 

  • Maintain close ties with organizations already working hard: La Plata Economic Development Alliance, Region 9 Economic Development District and others. 


Ensure and Provide Adequate and Excellent County Services

The County provides a long list of necessary services for residents. As a Commissioner, I will work to ensure these services not only continue but meet the evolving needs of a growing county.  

My plan is to:      

  • Continue to make investments in the County employees who deliver services day- to-day by keeping wages and benefits fair and competitive, and paying a livable wage.

  • Ensure that the new County Strategic Plan is implemented and that annual goals are then tied to success measurements. 

  • Support road impact fees and other measures to address the structural deficit in the Road and Bridge Department's budget.    

  • See the 2024 Fairgrounds Master Plan through to improve the site for all.  

  • Continually look for creative, cutting-edge and cost effective ways to deliver services. 


Ensure more Affordable and Workforce Housing

Many young people, families, and seniors on fixed incomes are now priced out. This lack of affordable and workforce housing is impacting all sectors. We can and should do more.

My plan is to:

  • Continue to serve on the Board of the Regional Housing Alliance (RHA); work with all partners to carry out the new RHA Strategic Plan and Workforce Housing Strategy. 

  • Support investments in affordable and workforce housing projects  (note: the County has deployed nearly $10M over the last two years to housing). 

  • Continue to support annual County Public Benefit Grants to nonprofits such as Home Funds, Housing Solutions for the Southwest and the RHA, and others.   

  • Implement the County’s new housing policies passed in 2022. 

  • Stay at the table in problem solving related to homelessness and keep supporting Manna's Navigation Center.   

Increase Safety in the Face of Climate Change  

Southwest Colorado is getting hotter and drier. We need to continue the good works happening and increase our capacity to respond to droughts, wildfires and flooding.

My plan is to:

  • Determine paths for the County to address climate resiliency through public health, emergency response, wildfire preparedness, resource conservation (water and energy), etc.  

  • Continue to implement the Wildfire and Watershed Protection Fund (WWPF), a project I spear-headed with the City of Durango and Durango Fire; ensure funding for the WWPF is reliable so that residents can access resources to help with mitigation.

  • Continue the work of the 2021- appointed Wildfire Advisory Board.  

  • Determine strategies for stakeholders to assess water availability for better planning.    

  • Continue the cutting-edge emergency management planning and action already done by the County (i.e., annual county-wide drills, mitigation, hazard planning, etc.).   

  • Celebrate the regional weather radar project --- ribbon cutting planned in 2024!    

  • Track on actions in the county-wide CWPP (Community Wildfire Protection Plan); ensure timely updates to this multi-jurisdictional, action plan.    

  • Consider out-of-the-box collaborative solutions working alongside partners such as the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative, Four Rivers Collaborative, BLM, CPW, USFS, Wildfire Adapted Partnership, and others

Be a model for Modern/Clean Energy on the Western Slope 

We must protect important conservation, wildlife, neighborhood and air and water values in energy development. This county can and should be a model for renewables on the Western Slope.            

My vision is to:

  • Carry out details around being an “anchor tenant” in LPEA’s solar garden.     

  • Continue to be a leader on the Western Slope for the protective, balanced oil and gas regulations instituted in 2023.

  • Advocate to the State of Colorado to deploy as many resources as possible to plug and clean up orphaned and abandoned wells here in our county. 

  • Continue to communicate with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe regarding oil and gas as the vast majority of wells in the county are owned and operated by the Tribe.

  • Develop pragmatic steps for addressing clean energy, conservation and sustainability throughout County Government.   

  • Work to responsibly assess and potentially permit renewable energy facilities where appropriate balancing the many interests: neighborhoods, water, wildfire risk, visual impacts, wildlife impacts, etc.

Take care of Land, Air and Water and Balance Interests/Needs

Private and public lands are valued by all and used in myriad ways. We all want clean air and water.


I will work to:

  • Continually improve the County Land Use Code and planning systems.

  • Update to the County's 2017 Comprehensive Plan in a timely manner. 

  • Speak up for conservation goals in State and Federal projects, policies and/or rules that have an impact on water, land and air quality.

  • Keep strong relationships with the San Juan National Forest, Tres Rios BLM, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the State of Colorado among many other land, air and water management entities.


Work to Address the Urban/Rural Divide and Improve Civility

We are living in a time when there is a very distinct “urban/rural” divide. I pledge to promote community understanding and a sense that we are all in this together because we are.


My vision is to: 

  • Keep, build and improve successful relationships with the City of Durango, Ignacio and Bayfield Town Boards, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.  

  • Be willing to always listen to everyone. Support endeavors that encourage conversation, understanding and dialogue.

  • Continue the “Living Rural” sessions started by the Commissioners in 2022 (sessions where residents can learn about water, soil, drought, weeds, County rules, and wildfire mitigation). 

  • Serve on the CSU Extension Advisory Council.  

Be a Voice for Public Health, Youth and Families, and Seniors

I care deeply for the health and well-being youth, families and seniors so I will:

  • See through the continued successful transition to county-department-led Public Health; ensure adequate funding of public health services.

  • Carefully listen to and support the new County Board of Health. 

  • Be a continued  leader and voice in the work done by SWORD (SouthWEST Opioid Regional District) to get more substance abuse services in the region including recovery housing.

  • Support the County Sheriff Department’s new co-responder program (where Sheriff’s Deputies and mental health professionals jointly respond to appropriate calls).  

  • Find ways to keep the La Plata County Senior Center and senior programming strong.

  • Support the many nonprofits working on these issues.  

Excellent Government for All

We are living in a time when trust in the national government is low but people still believe (mostly) in the power and promise of local governments to improve their lives. I will continue to serve everyone, build trust, speak up for democracy and bring residents’ concerns to other levels of government through legislative activities. 


So, I will:

  • Stand up for democracy by supporting our County Clerk and her staff, all election volunteers regardless of their political affiliation.  

  • Keep building trust with constituents by continuing “Office Hours” and “On the Road” sessions, youth outreach and more (note: you can call or email me anytime). 

  • Step up strides in County Government to truly demonstrate values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • Oversee the process of County staff and departments articulating performance goals and metrics for success. 

  • Be a robust voice in legislative activities via Colorado Counties, Inc., Counties and Commissioners Acting Together and the National Association of Counties.

April 2024







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