Candidacy: District 3 San Miguel County Commissioner; Democrat
Education: B.A. University of Colorado, 1976
Occupation: Owner, Porcupine Signs
Family: Married, two adult children; lives in Placerville
Government Experience: 20-year firefighter with Placerville Volunteer Fire Department, nine- year volunteer EMT on Placerville Ambulance
Prior to his decision to run for the District 3 San Miguel County Commissioner seat, Dan Chancellor said he was concerned that the county commissioners were losing touch with their constituents. Now, after making the decision to run and speaking with a large number of residents while canvassing, he says a large number of other people share his concern.
“I have talked with a lot of people and my concerns have been verified,” Chancellor said. “My opponent is out of touch with the county. A lot of people in the county feel they don’t know what’s going on in the county [government] and, at the same time, they feel like the commissioners don’t know what residents are facing either.”
To fight this suggested disconnect, Chancellor would like to increase public awareness by bringing live-streaming of commissioner meetings to the public via the Internet and by establishing a two-way email communication system with “as wide of a cross section” of residents as possible. For instance, he said, after each meeting, he would like to send out an email to constituents letting them know what occurred at the meeting, and be available to discuss people’s concerns and questions.
Chancellor believes better communication with the public will both inform and open up possibilities for solving issues facing the county. Perhaps the biggest facing San Miguel County right now, he said, is the declining revenues that supply its general fund. During the economic downturn, the county has cut the number of employees through attrition, and has so far survived without significantly cutting the number of services it provides.
But economic forecasts for the next five years suggest a continued decline in revenues and even more tough budget decisions lie ahead. Rather than having to cut services or county employees, Chancellor said he would seek out opportunities to boost the county’s revenues, which are mainly driven by property taxes.
“I am open minded to anything that will help stimulate the economy and create jobs,” Chancellor said. “I want to emphasize that it must be sustainable, though.”
First, he said, San Miguel County needs to take better advantage of what it already has: Tourism.
Chancellor said that Telluride, Mountain Village, and the Telluride Ski Area have done a good job promoting the area as a unique visitor destination, but suggested that the county could promote the area as well.
“The county, to my knowledge, has made no attempt to promote tourism,” Chancellor said. “When you go to their website, there is nothing there that encourages people to come to San Miguel County. We need to initially focus on tourism – it’s the low hanging fruit – but then we need to be moving on to finding sustainable industries or businesses that can work well in this county.”
Chancellor suggested, as a start, that the county could work with the Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning to find suitable industries and then attracting them to the county.
Of course, he said, if revenues do not improve, tough decisions must be made regarding expenditures. So far, Chancellor credits county staff and the work they’ve done for allowing the county to get to this point, but if revenues don’t improve, he said, a reduction in staff may become a reality.
“What people need to realize is that if you reduce staff, it’s not just the staff that is sacrificed,” Chancellor said. “All of us sacrifice, because a reduced staff means a reduced level of service. I hope we don’t have to reduce staff, but I find that to be a much better alternative than going to the public for a tax increase. Times are tough. We don’t need a tax increase. I will avoid that.”
As a private business owner and operator, Chancellor said he empathizes with the working class in San Miguel County, adding that improving the county’s transportation system would be a priority, because that is a priority for the working class.
Chancellor said he has been an activist for all of his adult life, and has always stood up for what he believes in, and that he is not a person who’s afraid to speak the truth, regardless of consequences.
“Probably the most important quality I bring is, as a communications minor in college, I learned the most important part of communication is the ability to listen,” Chancellor said. “I am a person who knows how to listen and as commissioner I will listen to the concerns of everyone and I will act upon them.”