Glenwood Springs’ newest city council member wants to focus term on affordable housing
Newly appointed Glenwood Springs City Council Member Marco Dehm doesn’t have the luxury of a full term to effect change throughout the city. Regardless, Dehm said he is passionate about doing, rather than speaking.
“If you want things to change, you need to get involved,” he said, regarding his many years of public service. “We’ve seen a lot of talking over the years about the problems facing Glenwood — affordable housing, sustainable growth, maintaining our regional presence as a retail hub — it’s time to start doing.”
A native of Basel, Switzerland, Dehm’s first introduction to the U.S. was the Roaring Fork Valley circa 1991. A childhood friend took a job as a baker’s apprentice in Aspen and invited him to visit.
“We did a big road trip around the West, seeing all the traditional sights, and I fell in love with this country and its landscapes,” Dehm said.
After finishing his own apprenticeship in woodworking and earning a degree in woodworking design, he packed a few things, said goodbye to his parents and returned to the states, where he found work building cabinets.
“My parents didn’t really know what to think, but I told them I was doing this to find my place in the world,” Dehm said. “From the time of my first visit to my return was less than a year.”
For years, Dehm worked off various visas, returning to Switzerland when needed and going back through the rigorous paperwork processes needed to return.
In 1996, Dehm met his wife, Kate, and after they were married, his regular trips to Switzerland became less about paperwork and more out of a desire to visit family.
Dehm became a U.S. citizen in 2018.
As a father of three, his European ties continue through his children.
“My oldest is in Switzerland doing an apprenticeship with a chocolatier,” he boasted, brimming with pride. “It will open so many doors for her.”
Flexibility is important, Dehm said. While he enjoyed woodworking enough to eventually open his own cabinet and furniture business, Eurostyle Woodworking based in Silt, he said the Great Recession tested his resolve.
“The recession was a close call,” Dehm recalled. “Construction is a tough trade. It can be up, but when it’s down, it’s down, down.”
The Dehms love to travel, and roadtripping is a personal passion for the newly appointed council member, second perhaps only to model trains.
During their travels, Dehm’s wife dabbled in renting out their home as a vacation rental. The enterprise was successful enough she made it her full-time career, founding the vacation rental company, Keylink, LLC. And in 2019, she brought on her husband full time as the chief operating officer.
“I was always helping here and there in the background,” Dehm said, adding with a smile, “I’d redo a kitchen or help with running the business, but then she said, ‘Marco, I need you.’ So, here I am.”
Never one to sit still for long, Dehm was appointed to serve the remainder of a term on the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission in 2003, which he followed with two three-year terms before taking a break for about a year around 2010. Following his hiatus, he was again appointed to the volunteer commission, and served right up until his appointment to council Feb. 25.
When Steve Davis resigned as Ward 1 council member, Dehm said he was ready to take the next step in his career as a public servant.
“I think the biggest thing that changed was my personal maturity,” he said. “That, and my children are older now, so I have more time to dedicate to the council.”
As council member, Dehm said his biggest priority is helping the city address the growing need for affordable housing.
“Switzerland is a very small country, about one-fifth the size of Colorado with more than 8 million people,” he said. “We learn to get creative with our spaces. I think I can bring that creativity to council.”
Striking the perfect balance, however, is equally important to Dehm.
“I don’t think we should cover every square inch of the city in housing,” he said. “But, we need to address this issue.”
A public-private partnership is Dehm’s preferred solution to the problem, but he said the exact details of what that might entail would need to be determined by the community.
After housing, Dehm said his biggest priorities as a council member were ensuring the city remains a retail hub with a vibrant downtown, but also supportive of small businesses outside the retail sector.
“We have very little light industrial-zoned properties,” he said. “More light industrial (areas) could help us attract the types of businesses that sustain an economy outside of the tourism seasons.”
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
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