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  • Writer's pictureMarsha for Commissioner

Proven Leadership: For These Times

The slogan I have selected for my campaign is "Proven Leadership." The times we are living in require seasoned leadership and a candidate with proven experiences in collaboration, communication and getting things done. It requires someone with patience, someone who will see things through and listen to everyone. A County Commissioner works with two other Commissioners, six other elected officials (Sheriff, County Clerk, Treasurer, Assessor, Coroner and Surveyor), a County Manager and nearly 40 boards and commissions. Work at the State and Federal levels with other elected officials, and numerous government entities and agencies is often required especially in a pandemic. With voting happening in about 18 days, I wanted you to know why I selected that slogan.

4-H Days...

My Background

Southwest Colorado Native

I grew up on a cattle ranch/farm in Lewis, north of Cortez. My family has been in the region for four generations as my great grandfather Edwin was a miner in Silverton. My Porter grandparents attended high school where the Old Fort Lewis campus is now. My grandfather, the late Charles T. Porter, served as a Colorado State Senator in the 1950s representing this area.

I am a Business Owner/Consultant

Since the year 2000, I have headed my own consultancy practice providing facilitation services to public entities, community coalitions, and nonprofits. I design and lead meetings and complex stakeholder processes to resolve conflict, set strategic direction and address a wide range of public issues - ones that the La Plata County Commissioners deal with each day.

I have worked all over the Western Slope and in Utah. Please refer to my list of work in La Plata County below.

Field Trip for Work, 2010

I served as a Nonprofit Executive Director

For six-years, from 1994 to 2000, I led a regional nonprofit called Operation Healthy

Communities (OHC). The group provided capacity-building services to address community challenges and created an index to measure the health of communities. Region 9 Economic Development District leads that project now. OHC provided the impetus for many other important things including the Regional Housing Authority and the Community Health Action Coalition.

I am a Volunteer and Community Servant

Food Drive in June '20 with Campaign Supporters

I have a passion for public service as this list of community involvement illustrates:


- La Plata County Fiscal Needs Committee, Member 2015.

- Airport Planning Advisory Committee, Member 2014-2015.

- County Road and Bridge Campaign Issues Committee, Member 2016

- Yes on C&D for La Plata County, Co-Chair 2005 (tied to a statewide ballot question)

Non Profit Board and Committee Service

-United Way Funding Committee, Volunteer.

-Big Brothers/Big Sisters of La Plata County, Board Member.

-La Plata Historical Society, Board Member.

-Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado, Board Member.


-Community Health Action Coalition, Co-Founder.

-Colorado Children’s Campaign It’s About Kids Network, Co-Founder.

KEY Accomplishments for LA PLATA COUNTY

Each of these projects was done in partnership with many, many people including key leaders and organizations. Leadership is about team work!

Hermosa Creek Workgroup, Facilitator: this multi-year workgroup effort resulted in bipartisan federal legislation in 2014. The group gained consensus among 45 different people and interests on a proposal which eventually conserved 107,000 acres through the tools of federal Wilderness and a new “Special Management Area.” Our work balanced conservation, recreation, mining, biking, motorized travel, fisheries, water development, and other economic interests (i.e. the Ski Area).

Firewise Southwest Colorado, first Coordinator: through our work, we started the award-winning Neighborhood Ambassador Program, now with over 100 Ambassadors. This group morphed into the Wildfire Adapted Partnership and the founders include: SJMA, USFS, Fire Ready, Inc., the Durango Fire and Rescue Authority and the Colorado State Forest Service.

San Juan Skyway, Consultant and Writer: I facilitated a regional stakeholder process that led to an updated San Juan Skyway Plan in 2017. This involved regional consensus-building.

Animas River Community Forum, Facilitator: this group, still active, was convened by former State Senator Ellen Roberts after the 2015 Gold King Mine Spill. Our work resulted in a better understanding of the entire interconnected Animas River Watershed and it now provides a forum across scientific, educational, nonprofit, business, governmental and conservation interests. Mountain Studies Institute (MSI) leads this group now and it meets bi-annually.

Mercy Regional Medical Center, Focus Group Manager and Facilitator: I organized and led a series of focus group meetings to help Mercy identify community health needs and action-able priorities.

Southwest Trails Roundtable, Facilitator: for 10 years, I facilitated this group that successfully brings trail user groups together including motorized and non-motorized. The members share information, link with land managers at the USFS and BLM, and do service projects.

La Plata Community Clinic, Board Member: this small clinic mobilized over 40 medical professionals to give pro bono time. We operated for 1.5 years to fill gaps and served the working poor. It was a precursor to Axis Health Systems’ Federally Qualified Health Center (located by the Library).

West Durango Land Use District Plan, Facilitator: I facilitated this diverse group for nearly 2 years in the mid-90’s. Members gained agreement on a District Area Land Use Plan passed by the La Plata County Planning Committee with success.

Eight Corners Intersection, Facilitator: This group met 18 times in Bayfield in the late ‘90s and gained agreement on a detailed, complex plan for the 160/CR 501 intersection. The stakeholders included: CDOT, businesses, Bayfield Town Board, adjacent neighbors and advocates for highway round-a-bouts.

Regional Homeland Security Meetings, Facilitator: in the mid-2000s, I worked with each of the law enforcement and fire agencies across in southwest Colorado in a two-day negotiation that prioritized how to spend new Federal Homeland Security dollars available after 9/11.

Durango High School Open/Closed Campus Task Force, Facilitator: in 2005-2006, I designed and led a School Board-appointed stakeholder process that assessed whether or not to close the High School campus at lunch. The group gained consensus on most points with a few minority views reflected in their final report. The decision was to keep the campus open.

Bayfield Facilities Planning Group, Facilitator: in the late 90s, this group convened to address how the Town of Bayfield and School Board could work better together around facility needs.

Region 9 Economic Development District, Facilitator, Writer and Project Lead: while at the nonprofit, Operation Healthy Communities, I led a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy planning process that involved stakeholder input meetings, data gathering and report writing.

Little Molas Lake Working Group: in ‘04, I facilitated a 20+ member stakeholder group that developed recommendations to the USFS for the level and type of recreation at this campground/site.

Note: Mention of any group does not imply an endorsement.


- Statewide Partner of the Year, Colorado State Forest Service 2009.

- Service to Youth Award, Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County 2009.

- Community Builder Award, Operation Healthy Communities 2004.

- Making a Meaningful Difference Award, Southwest Colorado Mental Health Center 2006.

- Barbara Conrad Leadership Award, Leadership La Plata 2006.


1986 Colorado State University - Bachelors of Arts in Social Work Concentration:

Youth Agency Administration and Certification from the American Humanics National Program

1999 University of Denver (Denver campus) – Master of Social Work

2001 Leadership La Plata Graduate; trainer for Leadership La Plata (topic: Conflict


2015 Delegate to the Capital Conference in Washington, DC


MPN with husband John, 4th of July Parade, '19

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. We were 30 years old and had $10,000 in ready-cash so we bought a home in Durango where we live. John is an MAI Commercial Real Estate Appraiser and owns a small business. My hobbies: herding two cats on a ¼ acre; camping and 4-Wheeling; and reading. I spend my off-time helping my family, xeriscape gardening, cooking, scrapbooking and catching the occasional PBS show, when time.

Marsha Porter-Norton

Democrat for La Plata County Commissioner

Proven leadership for healthy communities and a strong economy

Join, Donate and Volunteer here:

Contact me here: or 970-403-5680

Facebook: Marsha for Commissioner@MPNfortheWIN

Read my platform here:

Vote your Values. Vote for Marsha.


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