Q&A with new Rangely mayor Paula Davis

Editor’s note: Paula Davis was elected mayor in the town election April 6, replacing Ann Brady, who was term-limited. After nearly three months in her new role, Davis responded to questions about the state of the town.
“It’s been 85 days since I was sworn in; the president gets 100 days before his first State of the Union address,” she said, jokingly.

Question: What would you identify as the most pressing issues facing the town?
Answer: “As always, that would be money. There is a lot of uncertainty as to how revenues will be affected for the 2011 budget. Our summer projects have been somewhat delayed by the weather. There is a lot to do and maybe not enough time and hands to get it done before fall.
“We have met with the parks and recreation board to look at past agreements between the town and the WRBM. This hasn’t been done in several years and it is nice to talk about what our responsibilities are to each other.
“We also took a tour of town facilities this past week. We toured the Town Hall, water plant, gas department, animal shelter, and White River Village. As we go into next year’s budget, it is good to have those pictures in our minds.
“It would be great to make these things annual events. We should consider meeting at least once a year with each of the other entities such as the school board, hospital board, the chamber of commerce, the county commissioners and the library board. Cooperation and collaboration are what will keep us all serving the public as efficiently as possible.”
Q: What has been the biggest surprise — either positive and/or negative — that you’ve encountered since taking office?
A: “I have been pleased with attendance at council meetings. Sometimes people come because of public hearings or they have public input. But others come just to sit and listen to what is going on with the town. I really like to see the public take an interest in their town government — appreciate all the people that have called or come to see me with congratulations and well wishes. They come to talk about their problems and their successes, their concerns and their excitement about their community. I feel so fortunate to be in this position of public trust.”

Q: Since taking office, how have your priorities changed from when you were campaigning?
A: “I think my priorities are the same. Accountability to the citizens, courteous customer service, good stewardship of the finances and cooperation among all the entities of government.”

Q: How would you summarize the state of the town, especially in light of the economy?
A: “Our town is in excellent financial condition. As we get into the 2011 budget, there will be some tough decisions as to how we will get the work done and maintain that financial stability.
“We have a town manager who is always networking and looking for source of funding for projects and improvements. Grants are highly competitive in Colorado right now with everyone vying for a limited amount of money.
“Peter (Brixius) also sets a tone of respect and dignity, which I think is important to maintain cordial relationships with those we serve and those with which the town does business.
“The town council has been very amenable to our two new faces (mine and Lisa Hatch). Anytime there is a change in people, in any group, there is the time it takes to build trust and relationships. It seems we just rolled up our sleeves and went to work with hardly a blip on the radar, which has been very nice.”

Q: If you were to take the pulse of the community, how would you describe people’s mood these days?
A: “I see a lot of excitement about the new Family Dollar store and the new Kum ’N’ Go. Many of our existing businesses have expanded their services to meet needs in the community.
“I think people are optimistic that our economy is turning around. Seeing businesses invest in Rangely makes them hopeful. Many have been able to go back to work. Many of the housing vacancies are once again occupied. There is renewed interest in participating in local government. The Rangely Development Agency and Rangely Development Corporation are meeting with some new members added. To me, when people aren’t so worried about their personal day-to-day survival, they get involved in activities in the community.
“The landscaping project at the east end of town just warms everyone’s heart. The flamingos have been so much fun. People drive by there every day just to see what is going on. It is so beautiful and such an addition to our community. Knowing that people like Bud and June (Striegel) believe in the sustainability of our town brings hope to everyone.
“The community garden plans are coming along. I know some are frustrated that they haven’t planted anything yet, but a project of this size takes some time to organize.”