Sunlight Mountain Resort’s newest mini mayor slides into history books
Hailing from Rifle, Axelle Hansen takes safety-first approach to policy-making
Not all politicians keep their campaign promises, but Sunlight Mountain Resort’s sixth mini-mayor — 8-year-old Axelle Hansen — aims to break the mold.
After being elected to office Nov. 2, Axelle’s first order of business was creating the Sunlight Safety Club, a committee tasked with providing visual safety aids to her constituents — the children of the mountain.
“I want kids to be safe,” Axelle said in an exclusive interview with the Post Independent.
The political upstart is shaking up the status quo with implementation of a new coloring-sheet map, which could allow children to learn the mountain’s various runs before hitting the slopes.
“The idea was kind of born out of the coloring mats at restaurants,” said Alesha Marrow, Axelle’s campaign manager and mother. “She colors all the time in the restaurants, and she asked, ‘What if we could color the mountain?’”
The firebrand’s ambitions for a safer winter experience don’t stop at revamping her administration’s education policy. Axelle also plans to have visual signs added to each ski run, labeling them with pictures of animals for users who can’t read yet.
“Easier runs would have a dog on the signs, so they could follow them down,” Axelle said. “And harder ones could have a wolf or something.”
While some readers might be concerned the mayor’s new signage could be confusing for users trying to differentiate a dog from a wolf as they slide down the mountain, Axelle said the solution was really quite simple.
“We’ll make the dogs look sweeter,” she explained.
Of the people
An avid snowboarder, Axelle learned to shred about two years ago on the slopes at her home near Rifle Falls.
“We have big hills that get covered with snow every year,” she said. “Sliding down the hill was fun, so I kept doing it. And I did ski school at Sunlight.”
The eldest of three, Axelle said her role as big sister taught her safety is more than a political slogan.
“I like (snowboarding) with my brothers,” she said. “I help them with things like not being scared to get on the snowboard and learning to trust the mountain.”
A passion for winter sports runs in the family.
Axelle’s mother learned to snowboard as a teenager, and her father builds an ice skating rink in the yard each year.
“One of my favorite times of year is winter, because I get to snowboard and skate,” Axelle said. “Sometimes, I try to skate backwards.”
For the people
Running a grassroots campaign, the young mini mayor said she couldn’t have won the election without the support of her family.
As Axelle hit the campaign trail, shaking hands and explaining her political platform to the voters, her younger brothers hoisted their homemade signs. At home, Axelle’s mother developed a digital marketing strategy while her father appears to be Axelle’s biggest financial supporter.
“We’re super proud of her,” Alesha said. “My main thing as a parent is enabling our kids to do things like this and supporting them if they choose to.”
A lifelong go-getter, Axelle is a volunteer at heart, Alesha explained. When the opportunity to run for mini mayor arose, Axelle was quick to raise her hand.
“I wanted to run because it sounded really fun,” Axelle said. “And I get to open the mountain.”
Sunlight Resort has hosted mini mayor elections since 2015, and all but the first mayor, who was appointed to the position, have been girls, said Troy Hawks, Sunlight Resort’s sales and marketing director.
“On any given day, the adults are completely outnumbered by the children at Sunlight,” Hawks said. “We knew we would be in trouble if they didn’t get a seat at the table.”
Mini mayors are tasked with representing the resort on opening day and some public events as well as creating a policy within their first 100 days in office. Such policies can include adding items to the cafe menu, installing fairy mailboxes and organizing coat drives for underprivileged children in foreign countries, Hawks explained.
The resort encourages mini mayors to be good stewards of their constituency by engaging in dialogue with the other children at the mountain about how Sunlight could improve. And, although anyone anywhere age 12 and under can run for office, Hawks said all the mayors to date have been locally elected — mostly from Rifle and Silt.
“The mini mayor position gives a voice to the young powder hounds who previously were underrepresented,” Hawks said.
While Axelle has only visited Sunlight once prior to being elected, she is looking forward to using her family’s season pass as much as possible this winter.
“If I could go as much as I wanted, I would go six days a week,” Axelle said. “I’m trying to learn how to jump and twirl on the snowboard this year.”
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
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