New Castle Town Council’s Caitlin Carey announces run for Garfield County Commission
New Castle Town Council Member Caitlin Carey is running for Garfield County commissioner, she announced during a Sunday Garfield County Democrats meeting.
Carey plans to run for the District 2 seat in the November 2024 election, which for the past 25 years has been held by current Commission Chair John Martin. Martin, a Republican, is in his sixth term as commissioner.
“There is exceptional knowledge in those years of service, but it’s important that I not agree with everything he says or the decisions he makes,” Carey, 45, said of Martin last week. She added, as a mother, she’s trying to bring a new demographic of leadership. “I just think that there’s an opportunity now for that leadership and that experience and opportunity for someone else.”
Martin has not indicated at this early stage whether he plans to seek another term. He was reelected in 2020 in a close race over Democrat Beatriz Soto.
Carey moved to Garfield County for the first time in 2002, which is also the first time she fell in love with it, she said.
The Alabama native graduated Auburn University in 2000 with a Bachelor’s in human sciences. She also graduated from the Birmingham School of Law of Alabama while working in the Medicare department of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. She later worked for a plaintiff law firm in Birmingham, and has been a case analyst, researcher and director in Garfield since 2013.
Carey has also been serving as a New Castle Town Council member since April 2022. She said she loves serving New Castle and its people, and that she will do so “until the day I die.”
“I love that part of my life and it brings me exceptional joy,” she said. “I do not want that to be missed. This is not me using New Castle as a stepping stone. This is me doing more because I think New Castle needs to be served at a higher level.”
Carey said some of her main focuses on Garfield County issues are the economy, water conservancy, wildfires and wildlife.
But the biggest?
“The most important issue that we are facing right now is our housing crisis. There are not enough places for the people that make this county work, to sleep,” she said. “That really is important because no matter where you work, your housing is a basic and vital need.”
Carey said the issue needs outside-the-box thinking and conversations Garfield County’s predecessors would not have had because things are different.
Part of the issue of Garfield County’s limited crop of housing options and rate of inflation is that everyone’s too busy looking in their rearviews for someone to blame, Carey said.
“We need to be able to say, OK, this is how it got started, this is how we can address it now,” she said. “It’s going to take people like Gail Schwartz (Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley president), it’s going to take people looking at other counties and see how they’ve done it.
“It is going to take humility. It is going to take open-mindedness. It is going to take a certain amount of risk to come up with a housing solution that not only takes care of the housing but maintains this exceptional place that we call home.”
Garfield County has historically voted red for commission races. But the sitting commissioners narrowly escaped defeat over the past two election cycles. Commissioner Tom Jankovsky narrowly defended his seat with a 344-vote win over Democrat Ryan Gordon last fall, and Martin defeated Soto by 501 votes in 2020.
“Are you kidding? Red curly hair should do it for me,” Carey joked. She added that she grew up in the Bible Belt, in the very deep South, in a very conservative area.
“I’m fortunate that as I have grown and have worked on myself, that I have learned how to listen with intent to capture and bring forward a voice that may not even be my own,” she said.
Carey went on to say she is committed to listening while having open, honest, compassionate communication and decision-making with the aim of “moving forward thoughtfully in this county.”
Carey lives in new Castle with her husband, Jamin Heady-Smith, and their son, John Everett Miner. They like hiking, camping with their dog, Roxy, and running local 5K races.
Post Independent western Garfield County reporter and assistant editor Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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