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Your Vote Can Make a Difference: City Council Members, Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem

Your Vote Can Make a Difference: City Council Members, Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem

By Breana Talamante-Benavidez

Saturday, March 03, 2018 | Number of views (158)

Durango city council is involved with the county and Fort Lewis College.


The mayor, the city and county managers, the president and vice president of FLC and other representatives of the city, county and college meet regularly to discuss what is happening in each department that could affect the others, Mayor Dick White said.


City Council Functionality and Positions


Sweetie Marbury is the current mayor pro tem, but will be appointed mayor in April 2018 and Melissa Youssef will be appointed mayor pro tem, Youssef said.


The mayor pro tem goes to functions the mayor is not able to attend, Marbury said.


The mayor goes to many functions, performs ribbon cutting ceremonies, delivers welcoming speeches and signs documents for the city that are binding in law, Marbury said.


Two new city council members will be elected in 2019 and Youssef will become Mayor. A new mayor pro tem will also be appointed, Youssef said.


City council consists of five members. The members are term limited. One term is four years and members can serve two terms as a city council member, Marbury said.

City elections are held every two years, on odd years, Amy Phillips, city clerk, said.


The elections are staggered so that new members serve with members who have already served for at least half a term.


The mayor position is a revolving position each year based on the highest vote getter, Youssef said.


City council meetings are conducted by the mayor, Marbury said.


City council meetings are affected by the open meeting requirements of the Colorado Sunshine Law. This law does not allow city council members to have policy meetings outside of the regular public meeting times, White said.  


City council is in charge of the budget for the city and how much each department will receive, Youssef said.


The budget must remain within the amount the council has approved. Within the budget, an emergency fund is accounted for, in case of a disaster, White said.


“As difficult as it is, you have to learn how to live within your budget,” Marbury said.


City council members with different backgrounds offer more opportunities for issues to come to light, Marbury said.


Diversity among council members is important. Having members of differing race and age helps to add different perspectives, Youssef said.  


City council members deal with many issues presented to them by everyday citizens, Marbury said.


Community involvement is welcomed. There will be an opportunity this year for members of the community to help rank priorities for the budget, Youssef said.


Some of these priorities will be, public transportation, affordable housing, parking, street maintenance, crime, job growth, success of Fort Lewis College and a possible conference center, Youssef said.


The members of the city council in Durango serve on many boards and commissions, such as La Plata Economic Alliance Board, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board and Durango Planning Commission, Youssef said.


Council members can also propose initiatives that the council will consider, Youssef said.


Working Toward Affordable Housing


Housing is a challenging issue that has been ongoing, White said.


The city council continues to try to combat this issue. A new housing plan has been developed to address the challenge, White said.


One example of an attempt to combat the housing issue is the city council approved apartments at Three Springs and the Rocket Drive In, Marbury said.


City council is currently creating a new housing plan. “The new housing plan could help kids that are living maybe five in a house to eventually have a place where they can live by themselves,” Marbury said. “Those are called accessory dwelling units.”


Accessory dwelling units are units on existing property. They provide additional space, but do not make a lot of economic sense because they have not provided a lot of additional units in the community, Youssef said.


Rules for these units are affected by the neighborhood because members of those neighborhoods have a say in what the neighborhood looks like, she said.


Public Transportation and FLC


The city is also involved with transportation. The city arranged for bus services to be direct to FLC. Students pay for transit in some of their fees. City council wanted to make sure they were a good partner with FLC to provide convenient transportation, Marbury said.


The city’s transportation budget has been significantly decreased, by around 800,000 dollars, White said.


This has caused many routes for the Transit to have to be cut because they are not sustainable, Youssef said.


The Transit has teamed up with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Road Runner Transit, to provide riders of some of the cut routes with another public transportation option, White said.


The city council approved propositions from the city staff to protect public transportation, Marbury said.


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