It takes a vision to raise a city!
I recently spent time with visionaries in Durango, and I want to share this inspiring and uplifting experience with you.
Each year, right after the annual conference, the CML Executive Board holds a retreat to explore the past, present, and future of the League. The tradition is that CML’s president hosts the event, and Durango Mayor Pro Tem Christina Rinderle arranged a great weekend. She is a grand leader for the organization, and I am proud to work for her and the rest of the 21-member board.
We heard from Kerry Siggins on organizational leadership. She is CEO of StoneAge, a leading company in the manufacture of water hydraulic equipment based right in Durango. Kerry grew up in Montrose, went to the School of Mines, and eventually came back to the West Slope. She has been with StoneAge since 2007, and quickly rose to the top position. She was named one of Colorado’s Top 25 Most Influential Young Professionals. If you hear her speak, you quickly find out why. She has a vision for her company and for Durango. Organizational leadership is her passion and she left the board with the following tips:
- Accept feedback - “Feedback is a gift”
- Get out of the box - “Reach out in efforts to build bridges”
- Ask more questions - “Your tone is everything when you ask questions, so be mindful”
- Explore resistance - “When you are resisting something, you are always making it harder”
We also spent some time with Al Harper, owner and CEO of The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum, named by the Society of American Travel Writers as “One Of The World’s Top Ten Train Rides.” As Al told us on riding the train, “You’ve got to do this!” Meeting and spending time with Al is like being with Walt Disney. He is a true visionary. He treated the Board to a 26-mile journey through Cascade Canyon, talking to us about his business and what it means to be a good citizen of Durango. He has bought the Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton (both the hotel and the railroad were established in 1882, and ask me about the time we held a district meeting at the old Imperial in a raging early fall snowstorm, wow) and he intends to turn it back into a world class facility, where folks will be exposed to the “Old West.” It will be re-opened next year.
Like Kerry and Al, our board has a vision. They want CML to continue to be the state’s leading resource for city and town leaders. We spent a lot of time discussing that during our time in Durango. The League’s enhanced research capability is one example among many in how to achieve this.
It is not just leaders in Durango, or CML – all our cities and towns are visionaries. The following are some recent examples of this.
Pueblo’s city council just approved a new urban renewal zone for the city’s lower West Side. “A small crowd of neighborhood residents were at the council meeting to applaud the vote,” according to a report in the Pueblo Chieftain, one of the state’s best newspapers for regional and statewide news. Imagine, a group of citizens applauding their elected leaders for solving a problem, doing the right thing, and using the right tool – urban renewal.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, one of the single finest public servants I know, is heading the effort with his great city council, led by Council President Merv Bennett (and also served by President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler, a member of the CML Executive Board), to ask voters to approve a sales tax for road repairs and trail improvements. It is a vision for the city’s future. “These questions are going to determine how we move forward in the next few years,” stated Mayor Suthers to KRDO Television recently.
In Boulder, Mayor Matt Appelbaum, also a CML Executive Board member, has a vision. He was able to initially convince his council to place on this November's ballot an occupation privilege tax for transportation purposes, otherwise known as a “head tax.” Several other cities that are employment centers impose such taxes to help offset the costs of serving major employers in a community. These revenues often are earmarked for specific purposes.
Every city and town in this state has a vision for the future because of the leadership within and without. I am always interested in your plans for the future and what the League can do to support those efforts.