Candidacy: District 3 San Miguel County Commissioner, Green, Incumbent
Education: B.A. in English, San Francisco State Univ. / Lifetime Calif. Teaching Credential with emphasis in Pre-School Education (U.C. Berkeley Extension)
Occupation: Poet, Spud Farmer, Elected Official
Family: Wife, five children; lives in Norwood
Prior Government Experience: 16 years, San Miguel County Commissioner
Incumbent District 3 Commissioner Art Goodtimes believes election year is report card time: If you don’t believe the incumbent has done a good job, the electorate will vote you out of office. If you’ve done a good job, keep them in office.
Together with his fellow commissioners Elaine Fischer and Joan May, Goodtimes believes the board has led the county through challenging years and has kept the county in strong financial shape in spite of the severe economic downturn.
“The county is in great fiscal shape given how bad the downturn was,” Goodtimes said, adding that many other small governments in the region were forced to lay off employees during this period, but that did not happen in San Miguel County. “We made cuts and put a hiring freeze that reduced our workforce. We worked hard with our budget reduction plan, and I have been really happy with what we’ve done.”
Besides his work as being a commissioner for the past 16 years, Goodtimes said he’s gained experience and knowledge of San Miguel County through working as a reporter, editor and managing editor that gives him a unique perspective on not only the history of the county but on where it’s going and on what issues its residents are facing.
“I saw the county from the outside for 15 years, and now I have been doing it from the inside,” he said. “I think we have done great, and people want me to do it again.”
What has Goodtimes learned about governing at the county level?
“The job of a commissioner is not so much about leading than working with a team,” Goodtimes said. “I think that is something that gets lost. People will tell you they are running for this seat because they are a businessperson, and that they can make things right. In a company, the CEO makes all the decisions. In county government, it’s not like that. You have to work together with your department heads and other elected officials.”
Besides taking a slow approach to downsizing the county’s budget if revenues continue to decline, Goodtimes said, he wants to keep San Miguel County “socially responsible, politically progressive and environmentally wise.”
One of the most difficult questions the county struggles with is how to keep the middle class from being priced out of the county. Even though the county, along with the Town of Telluride, has made home ownership possibilities a reality, that doesn’t always work. Middle class families still struggle to make a living in the county.
“We have seen people go upside down even though they were in affordable housing, and it’s really sad,” Goodtime said. “How do we deal with that? I think in the long term, we need to continue to work even more collaboratively with other governments.”
Besides more collaboration on affordable housing, Goodtimes says creating a regional transportation authority is an important key to the county’s future, even if it has to start small. The important thing, Goodtimes believes, is that it starts.
“We need to start talking and planning to make this all work,” he said.
And while the county must continue to work to solve social issues, Goodtimes believes the county must also continue to be inventive and a leader in new progressive movements that could bring benefits, both environmentally and economically.
For example, a new idea surfacing is the idea of a carbon ranch, where rotating cattle in combination with organic farming can increase the amount of carbon sequestered in the soil. Goodtimes explains that this is just a theory right now, but that with a fellowship for researching the project, the county could become a leader, setting an example for how a process like this could work.
“Ranchers can offset our carbon use and at the same time ranchers will stay in business,” Goodtimes said. “This could be a global model for what can happen. It’s a really exciting project. This new agrarianism focuses on food, how it’s produced and how we can offset our carbon use as we grow it.”
While Goodtimes says he has ideas on how to move the county forward, he always places his ability to listen first.
“Wearing this hat as a county commissioner, the main job is to build bridges and make things happen,” he says. “It’s not about standing on high moral ground. In the real world of action and government, you have to work to compromise if people want to move forward.”