The Future of Gunnison with Mayor Diego Plata on Kooler Lifestyle Podcast

00:00:00 Diego Plata
Through the Hispanic Affairs Project, a nonprofit based out of Grand Junction. We have a chapter here that runs a local charter called Immigrant. This one needles. For years now. I’m talking close to a decade now. I mean, this one needles and Hispanic affairs project has been working. Really. But really hard at trying to engage in all the Police Department from the city, the planning department from the county to come in and. Host meetings in a safe space so that individuals and Latino community can can have an understanding of how these processes work or who to call when you need XYZ.

00:00:41 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work, and serve through my business cooler garage doors. We’re going to bring you highlights on characters in our communities. Why? Because community matters. And I want to know more about who is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support the Community fabric that our relationships make up. And collectively, we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles, our youth and our health. Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn and today I have my friend Diego Plata, the city of Gunnison. Mayor Diego, thanks for joining us today.

00:01:32 Diego Plata
Hey, thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here and have a conversation with you.

00:01:36 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I’m excited to chat with you on this level of public servant for the City of Gunnison. I’ve known you for a number of years now and seen you at the gym and chased you and half marathons and you recently. I mean, I guess it wasn’t super recent, but when did you become the mayor of the City of Gunnison?

00:01:59 Diego Plata
Yep. So I became mayor on December 7th, 2021, right on in a little bit of civics here on how the city of Gunnison elects its mayor. Every two years, three of the five council members are up for reelection. The top two vote getters in that election are elected to four year terms. 3rd place vote Getter is elected to a two year term. That’s really designed so that there’s a shuffle in the on the board itself. Once elected by the town or the the city residents, we the board then work through a vote. To elect who the mayor will be. So it’s an appointed mayor by the board itself. Yeah, I was appointed in December, so just a little over a year ago on a three to two boat.

00:02:51 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Awesome. Awesome in give us a little back story, where did you grow U and how did you end U in Gunnison?

00:03:01 Diego Plata
Yeah, so I spent. I was born in media, Venezuela, small mountain town at about a Mile High as well. I spent the first decade of my life in Venezuela. My parents chased the American dream, moved to Maryland suburbs just outside of DC now, where I attended middle school and high school. And then I attended College in Baltimore, MD. Spent the second decade of my life in that Maryland, Baltimore, DC area. Shortly after graduating college, I decided I wanted to learn to ski and thought Denver would be a good place to move to, to both learn to ski and try to pick up a career of sorts. There’s the financial crisis of 2008, when I graduated, so jobs were hard to come by. It’s a great first winter. I spent a lot of time skiing because I was unemployed. So I’ll stay there. Found a job with the firm that I’m actually still with. Called 12 years later. And spent some time in Denver, about six years. Ohh. Through my work I learned a lot about some of the work that our company does and some of the social impacts that come with infrastructure and natural resource work. And so I decided to up my resume through a graduate program focused on social impacts or some sort of community focused. The the topic and so. Looking online, I looked at Colorado universities and Western at the time, offered the apply. Now it’s going to be masters of environmental management. And so I applied and was accepted, received a fellowship that required me to be here on the ground in Gunnison. And so my wife and I. Decided let’s let’s give it a shot we we moved to Gunnison in August of 2014 for me to start this program and continue work remotely. And her to take off her career as a. Behavioral therapist and rob. We’ve been here since.

00:05:17 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That’s awesome.

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00:05:59 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, that’s awesome. And how did how did public service find you? Had you choose to go for City Council and and get involved on that level?

00:06:09 Diego Plata
Yeah, it wasn’t. There wasn’t necessarily. And itching urge at first you know through the program, the MEM program I really wanted to to walk away and and be on the ground and do some of the work that I studied and did some of my Masters project on. And as I mentioned, I was working remotely for that for the same firm that I’m with and I was really doing more business development for them, which didn’t allow me to be the the seller doer in a sense I was, I was mostly on the seller business development side of the house. I really wanted to be on the ground doing the work, but it was really challenging to. Do some of the work here in Gunnison because we don’t have an office here in the on the Western Slope entirely. I’m really about the only employee over here, and it became apparent to me that. There was a nice sweet bar where I could maintain a career go moving forward with the company. You know, guaranteed income without kids. And I could also find a way to get engaged in the community through some I won’t say volunteer work because there’s a stipend, but I did find when I started paying attention closely to the Counties Planning Commission board. And I want to say 2000 and. 15 or no 16 or 17. I applied for and was appointed to by the board of County Commissioners to the County Planning Commission. I spent two, almost three years on there. And learned a great deal about the land use process, our land use resolution, the counting process for planning, et cetera. And that was really fulfilling because it got me involved. I was able to go see projects but really understand the the, the, the process and and meet a lot of the individuals who are making these decisions or running these processes for our Community. While on this board, I started paying a little bit of attention to the City Council and learned of the upcoming elections and was. Pleasantly nudged by Kathy Pagano to to consider running for for office. You know, for me, being an elected official, I have been told previously this was before even Planning Commission, that I can at times come off very diplomatic. And so the thought of actually being an elected official was to me enticing and then perhaps fitting to my persona or personality. And after getting the vote from the most important constituent, my wife, to go for it, I decided there my name and and and and run a campaign in in the summer slash fall of 2019. At which point I was appointed to or elected by the town to my first term, a four year term on City Council.

00:09:01 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That’s awesome. And it applied to you and anybody that runs for for City Council, it’s especially you know I can do some reflecting and you mentioned 2019 but so then there was you know our years of COVID and. Some difficult policy style decisions that went through there and what I recognized just from my own observation was that anybody in leadership during that time. Was almost set U to not win in some regards. Like there was going to be difficult decisions that had to be made based on some information but not collecting like there wasn’t enough time for years and years of data and so. Yeah, I just, I just recognize that and.

00:09:50 Diego Plata
No, I appreciate that because yeah, I and you know in hindsight I I can now kind of smile as I say it, but it then I I. I would always say it’s a tough year to decide to jump into politics, for sure.

00:10:05 Matthew Kuehlhorn

00:10:06 Diego Plata
It was a real learning lesson for me, for everyone, of course. And you’re right, the decisions that we were making were. Informed to the best of our ability from the perspective that we didn’t have a game plan for this. We didn’t have right. You know this is what we do now. It was we’re kind of as everyone has heard you know, making this the ship as we as we steer.

00:10:29 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It yeah. Yeah.

00:10:32 Diego Plata
To me, it was really a an incredible opportunity to immediately jump into that groundwork that I really wanted to get into and engage our community. And I’ll speak particularly to the my ability to connect directly with the Latino community.

00:10:48 Matthew Kuehlhorn

00:10:49 Diego Plata
Because as as you know and and many on your podcast or so your listeners might know, we have. Quite a large Latino population, a lot of them Spanish speaking and a lot of them not very flowing, if at all, in English, and communication was critical during this COVID. During my time with this company, Stantec, and I’ll give it a name. During my time with Stantec, my first five or so years I actually spent as. Or Latin America’s regional marketing slash business development specialist. And a lot of that had to do with creating a process through which we would translate both internal and external documents and communications. So I had a. A background in setting up a process through which we would quickly translate things, get them qaid so that they would be accurate and then distribute these our work closely with members of Health and Human services at the county level to jump right in and. Put a process in place so that we could translate those daily emails that were going out and then just any kind of communications or posters or yeah, anything that was written or verbal we could try to get. Turned around as quickly as possible through process and there were a ton of volunteers that just came out of the woodworks that hey, I speak Spanish, I can help translate, I can help QA. I did a lot of the translations myself. And that was, I mean, we did it day in and day out for the first. Two or three months, possibly. And then you know those memoir, those messages started dwindling in volume. We were able to. Reorganize a bit, but to me it was while exhaust and a really neat opportunity to immediately jump in from a. Or using my, my, my language, my, my, my, my Spanish. But also just engage with the community. You’ve been in touch with them and building relationships with them. Yeah. So yeah, it was definitely challenging for everyone. I tried to find the silver lining, and to me, as far as civic engagement, that was it.

00:12:49 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That’s beautiful. And you mentioned that diversity in our in our Community, how large is Latino and core populations in Gunnison, Gunnison County, is there a percentage or?

00:13:01 Diego Plata
Yeah, so according to the 2020 census, the county wide population of Hispanic Latino is around 17 to 18%. Well, in the speculative, but it’s my opinion that that number is probably closer to 20 to maybe even 25% because. As we know, the census isn’t telling everyone, and I know for a fact that there is. Some hesitation from the Latino Latinx community to partake in any kind of government process just from a. The year of when? Deportation. Yeah. Legal status is a real issue here in the valley and I think it prevented some individuals from participating in the census. Yeah, I think some people didn’t participate because they’re juggling 2 kids and they have two jobs and just didn’t have the time to do it to you. I’ll rake, but yeah, 20. I think it’s a good number.

00:14:01 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I mean either one of those, I mean that’s a significant portion of the of the population and it is. I would imagine oftentimes underserved. Whether it’s a language barrier or, you know, like you were mentioning, potentially an individual’s desire to come forward and ask for assistance or to go gain some assistance with resources we have in the. The community. What do we do as a community to help serve an underserved population, assuming that that’s somewhat realistic?

00:14:39 Diego Plata
It is realistic Elm and I’ll start by stating that it’s an absolute truth and and and issue that or challenge that the city is working on actively. I will add that that challenge. Extends to individuals who are not from the Latino or Spanic community as well, Joe. And the overlap there I think is just the. Not not knowing where the process starts and ends or what entity to go to for. You know, childcare support or health support, what have you. I think there is a just general civics lack of understanding from the community at large. But then you then you add a language barrier. And there becomes even more challenging to the Latino community to that you add that legal status barrier and it becomes. You know, it’s it just gets a little bit further and further and more and more difficult for them to reach those resources and so. I think as a community, the Community has spoken in some ways and. I’m really proud to be representing that part of our community on council because, you know, I and I and I often say I take very little credit to this, but through the Hispanic Affairs Project, a nonprofit based out of Grand Junction. We have a chapter here that runs a local charter called Immigrant. This one needles. For years now. I’m talking close to a decade now, and we get on this one. Needles and Hispanic Affairs project has been working. Really. To really hard at trying to engage you know the Police Department from the city the planning department from the county to come in and. Host meetings in a safe space so that individuals and Latino community can can have an understanding of how these processes work or who to call when you need XYZ. The city itself now has a full-time city liaison, Ricardo Scaler, who is. Just an invaluable member of our team now and she really supports a lot of these needs through translating a lot of the documents and you know if you’re going to. Attached to your house or need to go through a building permit. He’s been working on translating those actual documents. But then he also facilitates a lot of that conversation with the person wrecked department. You get their kids into the program or with the Community Development Department to help. The process as you’re going to build a house and so they got in. Invaluable. The clerk’s office in general has really done a phenomenal job up in communication and inclusion of our Spanish speaking population.

00:17:34 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Love it. What would you like people to know about the city of Gunnison that they may not even consider looking for? Like either depost a myth or to bring forth something that um. You know, I, as a simple participant in the Community, may not have top of mind or or know about that might be a boost or some kind of strength to the city of Gunnison.

00:17:59 Diego Plata
Yeah, I think something that needs to be recognized by. I mean, even our own staff. And then just everyone in town is. We’re all. Primarily, I’ll either live here. Or live within the county. And are really working to better the organization itself, which in turn betters our community. I, I, I feel like in back to your COVID, back to the COVID pointed right. Particularly post COVID, there was a real and there still is a real. Tom. Push back on government and. Rules and regulations and what the intent is, is that a control issue? Is it a ego issue? And the truth is I I’ve never really felt. Like I’m in power by any means. To me, it’s simply an opportunity to. Help and. Engage with individuals who me and not otherwise engaged. And I feel that like it’s much the same with the rest of Council as well as city staff. I think there’s this common, common misconception that we are. Using tax dollars to just buy frivolous things and give staff raises beyond and above what? They deserve. Or that we’re not using our resources wisely. And don’t get me wrong, man, I fully understand that it’s a challenge to many. To see their tax dollars go into in the wrong direction and I say wrong based on just simply individual opinion. But I also want people to know that. The. A. When when I first moved here, I remember it was Dave Wiens, actually. I went to a talk and Dave Wiens said that and it stuck with me and it was he was telling us he was talking to us about how they redid the base area at Hartmans. And he brought it. He came up with this phrase and it was if you’re not at the table, you’re the meal. And they use that lately because it’s not a threat or any kind of menacing comment. But I do feel like if you’re not engaged and you’re not participating in the conversation or at least keeping an eye on the newspaper as to what’s being discussed at a Council level, at a Planning Commission level. General direction for city staff to go in through our strategic plans. Then it’s really challenging when. If the individual shows up to the one meeting where we’re going to make the decision on the one thing and gives their spiel. Or opinion rather. And the. And it’s, it’s a big ship to get to that point. The decision point, yeah, there’s been steps today, months of conversation around the topic and you could have been involved in entirety of the time when we welcome it. In fact, I I plead to people to please come to the Council meetings and I know that. That’s a challenge because. You know, we’ve got kids and jobs and we’re tired and we got 1000 things going on. And moreover, let’s be honest, Council meetings are not gonna be the most entertaining way to spend your two year afternoons. Nonetheless, if you engage, if you paid a little bit of attention, if you picked U the minute, you could really find out so much about what’s going on within the city operation. And and to find the appropriate time to engage so that. You know, we can steer the ship together rather.

00:21:40 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I love that. So what I would extract out of this, and I’ll and I’ll emphasize it from my own perspective of working in some quasi government roles in the past, is basically the component of collaboration is huge and the city is actively collaborating within a teamwork and a Community coalition framework and encouraging involvement. From community members all the time, not all the time necessarily getting it until some emotional or or fired U decision is is about to be made right. One thing that I’ve noticed, and I’d love to offer you the opportunity to speak into it, when I was working in some quasi government and interacting with some of the coalitions and watching the city and the county at work, what I saw was that. Our county and our city has really amazing resources that support its citizens and the Community and sometimes the citizens and the Community aren’t even going to see it. I think of our health coalition, GC, SAP coalition, like there’s a lot of different players at the tables. I think we have a lot of things going for us with it and engage school system. And while there can be disagreements amongst, you know, decisions made, I feel like there’s a level of conservatism. That is looking for the long term health of our community versus making any reactional quick decisions. Would you agree or you know, wrestle with that?

00:23:18 Diego Plata
Yeah. No, I did that there. There certainly is. And and I. From an emotional perspective, fully understand it. You know this. This is a beautiful place and. We want it to stay as is. Umm. But I think there also needs to be a. Being individually to put on their pragmatic. Hat as well as they consider these kind of decisions or movements within the state of your county. I guess. Can I ask you to repeat the question and just like kind of the the? The key point that you’re looking for me to well.

00:24:00 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Let me shift, I guess my getting it. Yeah, let me shift the question just slightly because I think my my point was to just extract the fact that there is a ton of collaboration and system setup within the city for guiding City Council for making decisions for the city staff that is beyond individuals. Like there’s a lot of conservative checks and balances, if you will, getting community input as much as possible to guide. Policy shifts and such. So taking that into this refined question. We’re seeing change within the entirety of the Western slope. We’re certainly seeing it in our valley. Vail bought Crested Butte a number of years ago and we’re seeing this veil effect if you will populations coming from larger towns and potentially shifting culture, shifting population. How does a a City Council who’s sitting for two or four year terms and maybe a few more but. How are we making long-term decisions in the present?

00:25:10 Diego Plata
Gotcha. Yeah, no. And I guess and that’s, yeah, I think that’s where I was going with my first answer. It’s about. Me being conservative is is, is, is is fine and being overthinking it’s fine as well. I think it’s a good. Exercise to try to blind the balance in the two. And tying it back to COVID, right, making the best decision that we can. Now looking ahead 101520 years. I think it’s certainly important to prioritize the the, the absolute needs. Water rate I think is key. That’s the biggest issue. Climate change in general is probably one of the biggest issues. Long. And then with that comes energy or resources, food, health services. And all of that, I think. Touches everybody in the valley. And so finding a ways to collaborate with the county, with Mount Crosby, with Crescent Butte, even with picking and. Ohio City, Lake City, even though they’re further. I mean, we’re all on this. A geographical island of sorts, so I think it makes a great deal of sense to work together towards a common cause, which is in my opinion the better of the Community in general, yeah. I think making decisions today to look ahead 1520 years from now, in particular in the midst of a climate crisis, is it. It’s really important to prioritize those key items. Water or air pollution and energy, et cetera, so that. We can update policies as needed. Update infrastructure is needed in a way that. Uses what we’ve got already on the ground, so as an example. Roads is a big component and we had a failed ballot initiative that was requested 1/2 percent sales tax to move Rd. maintenance ahead. Umm. But it failed. It fell by 280 votes Ohh. So for 141 people voting the other way would have passed this for. And the catch is roads are looking fine to everyone because the truth of the matter is they are. You know we had a asphalt study done recently in 60% of the road or most of the roads are scoring a 60% or better on this, on this scale that’s used to to rate them. And so they’re they’re looking fine. The catch is. The, the. The. Up on uptake of Rd. maintenance needs to begin now. So that in 20 years we’re still ahead of that curve and if we don’t? In 1520 years, roads are going to be past the point of maintenance. They’re gonna have to be tore out and rebuild and that cost 4 to 6 times as much, right? And so that’s right. Taking this kind of comprehensive view or water, we just had a recent water study done a year and a half or so ago. And I’m happy to. Share that last week our consultant now officially kicked off our water treatment plant. And. Because, yeah, we’ve got the Gunnison River right there. That’s great. And we have. Amazing water rates, historical water rates that are going to protect our citizens and any growth that might come as a result of Gunnison rising etcetera. Nonetheless, our water distribution system is really outdated. We have nine very vulnerable wells across town. And if any of them have any big contamination or or leak of sorts, we could have the state coming knocking on our door and telling us you’ve got to shut down your water supply system and start handing out water bottles and so. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. We’re taking every step that we can and precaution to ensure that it doesn’t happen, but the accidents do occur and so. Planning for the future? We’re looking at it. A water treatment plant that can siphon all of those wells into one place so that we have a secure way of routing water to where it needed and have a manifold of source so that if we need to shut off the wells by the airport, we can without affecting that population near the airport. All of that tying into the regional perspective. We’re also under 3 model land study with the journey, which is state mandate to understand where the city might grow 3 miles outside of it that he limits. And water is a big component of that. The roads are a big component of that, access to the highways a big component of that. And so the decisions that we’re making now are absolutely taking into consideration future growth, future resource needs. And and it really does bring in that collaboration with the county, with the city. And then with any citizens that warrant and and and can get engaged because their input is incredibly valuable for elected officials to make the decision for staff to understand what the challenges are or know it and then. Tying back into the Latin Latinx population. You know, as far as transportation in particular, you know. A lot of the like Members that I know use the bus to get up and down the valley, so. Making sure that we’ve got the bus stop here or there you and and working with our TA to make that happen. So it’s it’s a lot of moving parts no doubt but it certainly is for me probably mine to think right what decision was made 1530 years ago that got us to where we are now on wrote and the answer is. I think the wrong decision. Let’s keep rates low across everything. And just let everything go to waste, essentially. We’re not gonna keep anything. We’re gonna keep rates low. So I’ve had to make numerous challenging vote, though. OK, we need to offer the utility rate. So that we can update our electric right, so that we can start to maintain our water treatment plant and and it’s not easy to to have that conversation with. It was like, yeah, we’re going up 25% on utilities because we haven’t raised rates in decades, right. And everyone is falling apart. So it’s a catch up game in so many ways, but it’s really challenging to explain the intricacies behind the money or the tax revenues to individuals or. In a 5 minute conversation.

00:31:43 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yes. Especially with the external forces of inflation rising costs. It’s already an expensive exact community to live in, yeah.

00:31:51 Diego Plata
It is. We’re an island and it’s hard to get things here and get them out of here, so that adds to the caller.

00:31:57 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. But that’s an interesting point. And I think that’s probably one of those myth components or at least the things that a citizen is not necessarily thinking of or going to see. You know, for myself, I’ve known where the wells are. I haven’t known exactly how vulnerable or what the mechanics to them are, right. So it’s like, oh, yeah, pump water out of the ground. We’re good to go. I like knowing where my water is at. A lot of people maybe don’t have that question of where do you get your water. Room. And then the infrastructure that goes into that, you’re exactly right. It takes maintenance. And if we defer maintenance, then we’re just deferring a larger check down the road and it becomes more of a quote, UN quote emergency scenario versus just annual maintenance getting the oil changed in the car kind of deal. And and yeah, that’s that is a difficult um education piece.

00:32:55 Diego Plata
For sure it is, it is good that’s you know, I think it’s. Long. It’s really, yeah.

00:33:04 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It’s it’s not. It’s not sexy, right? It’s just like the infrastructure, but it’s not something I’m gonna see. It’s like the framing or the insulation behind the wall. And yeah, well, and you know.

00:33:16 Diego Plata
It’s really. It’s especially not sexy because some individuals, and and rightfully so, look at government as. An entity that is to provide the basics. Roads, electricity, water, trash pickup. The rest is. Up for her grabs, right? Yeah. But that’s not what we in our Charter. That’s not the way that this community has voted in the past to make these other things happen that are not essential. I’ll point to Parks and Recreation as an example. Our records are wrecked under last year and I heard this from Dan Balandor for a few weeks ago. They get close to 250,000 individuals coming through. 250,000 people served in one year. That’s an approximate ballpark number, but. You think about the number of kids that are in there on a daily basis. Laugh in their face off in the pool or having a great time in the gym, or falling and hurting themselves, that happens to you. But. But it, it, it is an essential part and we provide that, yeah through tax oiling. You know, a lot of the other misconceptions come around where is that money coming from and why are you using my tax dollars to, I’ll go ahead and point to it, this mural and I of park. And here’s a good myth, Buster, the city had absolutely nothing to do with the funding for that mural. That’s not even the city owned building. It’s a privately owned building that was funded by the by TAP and in its entirety. So then the question or the other myth is, well, you’re spending a lot of money. On iOS park and the renovation there. And again that was a grant that was given to the city by the state. And so you know there’s all these background conversations that and that’ll say these to like throw it in that individual space. But just to like shed light on the fact that yeah, those multi conceptions are out there and there really are to break because yeah it’s there’s so many moving pieces and parts that are. All that are hard to justify the people of why we’re spending our money there instead of here. Yeah, and then I’m not batting an eye at. You know, the $50,000 I recall cost to build that well or to paint that mural, that’s a lot of money. But I guess. When you look at it in the scope of the city’s budget, which is budgeted at $38 million, or 2023. You you gotta start picking and choosing where you really focus your energy or what you know it’s $50,000 worth this much energy from the community versus let’s look at the $1,000,000 that we that we need to fill the gap to maintain our root. So it’s. It’s hard, for sure. Yeah.

00:36:01 Matthew Kuehlhorn
No, it is, and it’s a matter of perspective. There’s awareness, there’s education. Lot of nuances in there, Diego. I know we can probably chat for a full hour, but let’s yeah, let’s put a little bow tail on here. I’ve got two final questions for you.

00:36:17 Diego Plata
Great. Yeah.

00:36:18 Matthew Kuehlhorn
With where we’re at. And where we’re going, what are you excited for over the next couple of years?

00:36:25 Diego Plata
This was the from your prompts questions. This was the Mystic challenging question to think through because I’ve I’ve got a right I think, or a number of things that I’m excited about personally and for the city. But, you know, personally for me, it’s just my girls are. Growing up and for me personally, it’s really exciting to grow my family here in the Valley, building a community with other parents. Other kiddos etcetera, all for this city. I think it’s continuing what I think and believe to be a bit of a change in a shift in mentality as growth continues and really. Having individuals at leadership levels right now across most, if not all of the entities in the valley. That are, in my opinion, collaborating quite well. They’re doing a good job in my opinion. In the North End of the valley, staying communicated with the South end of the valley and everyone in between. All of the big organizations Western, the hospital, the Community Foundation. Staying in tune with one another’s challenges and priorities so that as growth continues, we work together to tackle the challenge rather than. Mount B’s gonna do it, and we’re gonna do it. We’re just spinning our wheels. We could easily do the same thing together and maybe save some money doing it and do it in a more cohesive, own manner. The synergy. That I feel when they’ve been meetings with. Other leaders from across our community is is. I think really. Rejuvenating and some waste moving here. Only about 8 years ago I did. Immediately feel this bit of a rift and it continues. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a bit of. Crested Butte Gunnison Rift, which is, in my opinion, unfortunate, but I think if the leaders can start talking to one another and collaborating together, we can show that through our actions. You know, those fictitious walls don’t really need to be there by any means. We’re all in this together. And COVID, I think, was a really. A bit of a a good ground to test that on and then start building that that momentum.

00:38:46 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. Yeah. That momentum has been building over the years and we’ve seen different organizations blend and and collaborate and. And I love that and I think also it’s, it’s definitely improved and will likely continue improving with the players that are in play in this perspective of shift. And it’s certainly important like when we talk about we haven’t touched it in this conversation, this would be another hour long conversation, but affordable housing and you know when it’s coming to water, when it’s coming to the utilities, the infrastructure, the only way to create some of the solutions for these problems is through that collaboration and that’s just critical across the board. O. Love that. For a business owner, for a community member, let’s put a pitch out there. How do people get involved and and where specifically would folks find information? Is that the city’s website? How much you encourage somebody to? Show up to a meeting or at least get the minutes. Or, you know, take some more action as far as involvement goes.

00:39:51 Diego Plata
Yeah, well, I’m gonna, I’ll come right back to that. I’m gonna go back to the last question and just say something man. I really appreciate hearing from you and much longer time local who’s been involved in quasi governmental. Entities and running your own business now for some time to hear that perspective around the collaboration happening. Improving because I I I really think that that’s. That’s where the money is. That’s where the goal is for us. That’s where the break teacher is. So thanks for sharing though. As far as individuals, businesses, nonprofits, et cetera, how to get involved, that’s almost just as challenging as figuring out the budget. I’ll admit the truth is I have heard from so many community Members, there’s just too many things going on. And and you know, what a wonderful issue to have in some ways because there will be, you know, laser tag at Fred Field and at the same time, there’s a Community Foundation meeting to discuss health benefits. Their public health insurance and then at the same time the city’s running a learn about your roads meetings, so there’s just a lot of overlap in. Entities and meetings and topics. I think it speaks to the. There’s a number of challenges that we have, even though we’re a very small community. I think and I speak I guess from where I’m where I’m sitting, as far as find your passion and and and really understand what it is that you think would be of most value to you. To get involved in because I mean, I personally I. I’m not very good at man, so I’m not gonna go to the math meeting because while I might learn something, my my personal value and energy may not be best spent there. But if you’re all. You know, worried about what your kid you’re going to be doing over the weekend and there happens to be a GC set meeting. I’m willing to bet there’s a. Posted information about that on the county’s website.

00:41:52 Matthew Kuehlhorn
For the first.

00:41:53 Diego Plata
As a city representative to speak on behalf of the city, yes, absolutely. The city’s website would be a good place to always check in to find out information about an upcoming meeting on any myriad of topics. But I would also point you to if you’re on Facebook, the city of Gunnison’s Facebook page is often updated with all sorts of messaging and and scheduled meetings or upcoming events. And I’ll, I think we have about 3 days for submissions to end, but we do have a name your snowplow competition going on right now. So if you haven’t got your name in. Girl these website and find the link and submit a name for one of our seven snow plows. Awesome. Or reach out to me directly. I’m happy to share my phone number, e-mail. And I’m always happy to direct people. I think that’s been another enjoyable part of this role is directing traffic in a sense, just pointing people to the right resource and that’s just, you know, a 2 minute conversation or 10 min. But yeah, on online everything is pretty readily available.

00:42:55 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Awesome. Well, we’ll include some of those details in our show, notes Diego. And encourage people to reach out, get engaged. I think it’s incredibly important. It is a challenge with time and juggling all the other responsibilities. And yet it’s it is our environment, it’s our community and. Any kind of input and engagement strengthens the community in in multiples. So again, Diego, I really appreciate you for a taking a stand and stepping into public service. And for your time this morning, I I love it. It’s one of the longer conversations recorded to date. I’m sure we could go longer, but we’ll end it here for now and maybe circle back again.

00:43:41 Diego Plata
It’s like getting close. I can talk all day. But I want a good beer. Fake promise. No thanks so much for the opportunity. I’ve been looking forward to this and. Yeah, let me know how else I can help.

00:43:53 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Sounds good, Diego, we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you so much.

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