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March 16, 2014
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Carbondale’s next generation steps up

Carbondale’s got a very young board of trustees in the making. Four candidates are running and three of them, as far as I can tell, are younger than 40.

These young candidates are willing to be your representatives and legislators in the most intimate of political settings: your town council. The decisions they make will directly affect Carbondale’s present, and its future.

Think about it for second and you’ll realize just how cool it is that Carbondale’s young folk are interested enough in the town’s future to wrestle with land use policy and development applications; staffing, equipment purchases and capital investments; environmental policy; and support for the business and nonprofit communities.

Key word: cool.

Two of the trustee candidates grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley. That would be Katrina Byars and Alexander “A.J” Hobbs.

Katrina has an amazing story. She had her son and daughter at a very young age, made it through high school and then figured a way to raise her kids, now 15 and 12, as a single mom in Carbondale. She has put herself through college and is set to earn her bachelor’s degree from Colorado Mountain College.

Katrina played a key part in organizing the big Thompson Divide rally we had in town a few years ago. Remember, the one behind the Third Street Center that wound up becoming a tractor parade past Sopris Park? And she has a behind-the-scenes role at events like Mountain Fair and the Green is the New Black fashion show.

So we know Katrina’s priorities lie in the right place — and that she can multi-task. She definitely has my vote.

Alexander Hobbs, in his late 20s, is the youngest of the bunch. He grew up in Basalt but has made Carbondale his home. What impresses me about A.J., as he’s often called, is his willingness to jump into the mix. He was appointed last year to Garfield County’s Energy Advisory Board, which meets monthly in Rifle. Despite his Roaring Fork Valley upbringing and love of all things Carbondale, he’s been able to hold his own and represent our community on a board that typically has more energy industry fans than we’re used to around here.

Alexander is a civil engineer who works at Sopris Engineering. I don’t know him well, but I am impressed with what I’ve seen so far, and am leaning toward voting for him.

Wayne Horak has lived in Carbondale for about eight years, moving here after attending a solar training at the now defunct (at least as far as Carbondale is concerned) Solar Energy International. His website indicates that he would be more conservative than his opponents. That said, having seen him at the debate and read up on his ideas, I don’t get the sense he would be out of place on the town council. In fact, his perspective would add to the overall mix. Also, it’s clear he loves Carbondale.

Wayne has served on the Historical Society’s board and the town’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Frosty Merriott is running for a second term, and I think he’s earned it. Frosty, the oldest dude in the race, is definitely not under 40. He’s worked hard with the rest of us on the board of trustees to develop regulations for retail marijuana production and sales. He’s helped the town move toward its goals in reducing energy consumption, especially the petroleum-based kind. And he’s the great defender of our urban canopy (all those trees).

And let’s not forget Mayor Stacey Bernot, an early 30s-something who is running unopposed for a second term. Stacey works very hard as your mayor and no doubt will continue to do so in her second term. She grew up in Carbondale and has a love of our town that runs several generations deep.

So, no matter the outcome in the election, we’re going to have at least four members of the board of trustees (including the mayor and Trustee Pam Zentmeyer) under the age of 40.

If Carbondale took a selfie right now, it would be a young and energetic face. And its elected officials will reflect that.

All I have to say it this: “Hashtag: cool.”

— Allyn Harvey, a Carbondale trustee, is looking forward to the upcoming election and reminds everyone to vote.


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The Post Independent Updated Mar 16, 2014 10:52PM Published Mar 16, 2014 10:52PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.