Home-rule candidates share bios: Part 2

The Citizen asked Home Rule Charter Commission candidates who they are, why they are running for a seat and why we should vote for them. The following candidates wrote their own bios, which are listed in the order received. In our Part 2 list, please meet candidates Martin Jolley, Jane Jolley, Lisa Malde, Vern Davis, Michael Scott, Mike Whittington, Mike Harvey, Lisa Connell, Billy Carlisle, Melodee Hallett and Jan Sebastian.

The League of Women Voters Home Rule Candidate and Issue Forum is on Wed., Dec. 12, 7 to 9 p.m., in Council Chambers in the Touber Building. The forum will allow candidates to speak on the pros and cons of Salida as a home rule or statutory municipality. The forum will be live on Optimum Channel 10. http://cityofsalida.com/projects/home-rule/


Martin and Jane Jolley


Thank you for your invitation to let potential voters know a bit more about us and our intentions with respect to the Home Rule Charter Commission.

Jane and I bought our place in Salida three years ago.  We were drawn to Salida for a variety of reasons including the friendly folks, the amazing weather and, of course, the Arkansas River.
We petitioned to be part of this commission because we believe that minimally, the people of Salida would benefit from a discussion of the political system currently in place.  Not necessarily that there needs to be a change, but rather that an open discussion about what the citizens want or do not want, is a fundamental mechanism for potential reform or even maintenance of the status quo.  We would just like to have the public dialog.

We appreciate the opportunity to be part of this process.  Thank you.


Lisa Malde

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small town in Washington State, but have been living in Colorado for nearly nine years. Quality of life, a sense of community and the small town lifestyle are important to me and for the past four years, I have been happy to call Salida home. Since 2009, I have been the Director of LiveWell Chaffee County, a grant-funded program that has brought in more than half a million dollars in the past three years, and previously worked in Community Planning and Transportation Planning for more than 10 years. My education includes a Bachelor’s degree in Public Planning from Northern Arizona University and a dual Masters in Urban and Regional Planning and Urban Design from the University of Colorado at Denver.

In my free time I have served as a Salida Planning Commissioner (for the past three and a half years) and brought roller derby to Chaffee County when I founded the Ark Valley High Rollers, a 501(c)3. Through my professional experience working with a county-wide coalition and in my positions on the Planning Commission and the High Rollers, I have seen the value of teamwork and collaboration.

I am running for a seat on the Home Rule Charter Commission because I enjoy serving the residents of my community and I feel my experience on the Planning Commission has shown me what is working and where we can improve. A charter that increases transparency and includes extensive public involvement in order to best represent residents’ needs, while also addressing their concerns and is ultimately supported by them, would define success.

I think people should vote for me because I have the experience of representing our community on local matters, have worked collaboratively on critical issues and have a proven track record of implementing creative solutions. Knowing when to stand your ground and when to build consensus is a critical skill when working toward tangible results. I believe my experience and my voting record shows that I am capable of this.


Vern Davis


I worked 34 years for a major manufacturing company in Denver. I was in charge of exporting up to $60 million of product per year. I also worked part-time for H&R Block and was over the credit committee of our credit union and on the Board of Directors for nine years.

Should the citizens of Salida vote yes for home rule, I would like to represent those citizens to keep Salida a great place to live, unless you’re on a fixed income. The constant increase in taxes and fees have many on fixed incomes wondering when this constant overspending will stop.

In my 21 years in Salida I have helped many elderly people on fixed incomes because the only way they can afford to live in Salida is to have a helping hand.

The one thing the Council is counting on is collecting sales tax and auditing businesses to make certain they receive every penny. Are they calling our business owners dishonest and we need the city to check on them?

Should the citizens vote no to home rule, as I will, there still will be some major changes that need to be addressed.


Michael Scott


I am a relatively recent transplant from the Front Range. While my heart moved to Salida sometime in 2010, my body did not make the transition until February of 2012. That’s when my wife, Lacey, and I decided to throw caution to the wind, quit our careers and head for the mountains. Our family currently consists of a dog, a cat and three chickens. I spend my free time mountain biking, trying to survive river sports, skiing, hiking and hunting.

I moved to Salida, in part, because I wanted to be an active member of this community. When I learned of home rule, frankly, I didn’t really know much about it. However, the concept piqued my interest and I began to educate myself about the ins and outs of home rule. While no means an expert on home rule, I believe that putting decisions regarding the intricacies of local governance in the hands of community members, rather than leaving them in the hands of the state, will ultimately increase the ability of the citizens of Salida to address community-specific issues and allow for more flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.

I am an attorney by trade, having worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Colorado for six years before starting my own practice in Salida. My legal background is primarily in civil litigation. However, as a former government attorney, I also have experience with legislative bill review, which required me to determine the constitutionality of proposed legislation as well as its potential fiscal impact. These skills translate directly to the role of the home rule commission.


Mike Whittington


I’ve been a Salida resident since 1993 and am sincerely interested in creating a City Charter that best meets the needs of its citizens.  I am in favor of home rule because it will give us the opportunity to address the individual needs of the city in a directly democratic way.
If I am elected to help draft the charter, one of my main goals will be to create a process that is open and transparent and most of all, be a conduit for citizen input.
Some of my personal goals for the charter will be to ensure that the city government is responsible to the electorate and that decisions involving major expenditures and city assets are open to public debate and highly contested issues are open to referendum.  Modern technology can enable citizens to share input on almost all city decisions and I believe in a charter that will help make that possible.
I have owned Independent Whitewater rafting company in Salida since 1998 and also own Salt River Rafting, which runs in Arizona.  I am presently on the Arkansas River Outfitters Association Board of Directors and am also on the Arkansas Headwaters Rationing and Agreement Advisory Committee.  These positions have given me the opportunity to work in groups representing a variety of interests.  Please give me your vote if you are interested in keeping this process fair and democratic.


Michael (Mike) Harvey

I moved to the Upper Arkansas River Valley when I was 18, six days after graduating high school near Cleveland, Ohio, to be a raft guide. I fell in love with the Arkansas River, and almost immediately knew that I had found home. After graduating from college in 1998, my fiancée, (now wife) Hanley, and I moved to Salida on a full-time basis and have lived here ever since. We now have two children, ages 11 and nine.
I owned a small raft company based in BV while I was in college.  In 1999 I helped form the Arkansas River Trust with the idea of improving recreational access to the Arkansas River in downtown Salida. From 1999 to 2010, I helped fund, plan, permit and build the Whitewater Park in Salida. Through that experience, I met Gary Lacy and went to work for Recreation Engineering and Planning (REP), managing whitewater park planning, design and construction all over North America.

I am a certified Professional Project Manager (PMP) and I love the process of working with communities to realize a vision for their river corridor. This experience has also allowed me to witness first hand all different sizes and types of local governments in diverse communities, all over the U.S. and Canada. In 2010 I started a business with my friend Zack Hughes, designing Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boards for inland SUP, Badfish. We are now selling 10 models and sizes in shops all over the world, doing all the prototyping and design here in Salida.
I am running for the Home Rule Charter Commission because I believe the Charter Process is a unique opportunity to have a community-wide discussion about our local government. I believe strongly in the potential for the most effective government to be the most local form of government. I am intrigued by the opportunity to have an intelligent discussion with the community about what we wish our city government to look and act like.

I have been both very active in local government in Salida and with local government all around the country through my work. I believe that combination of being firmly rooted in my home with the perspective of having worked and observed a number of local governments will help me take a broad view of the Charter and the process of writing the Charter.

I have strong communication skills and work very hard at being an active listener. I am not running for the commission to forward a specific agenda, but rather to lend time and energy to a thoughtful process that produces a charter that (to the highest degree possible) reflects the desires and goals of our community. Ultimately, I believe this process is less about litigating current issues or concerns and more about envisioning the Salida we want our children to thrive in. That is a challenge that excites me very much.


Lisa Connell


Thank you for taking the time to consider my views on the important subject of Home Rule.  To give a brief background, I found Chaffee County while working on the river in 1999. In 2004 I moved to Salida full time.  For the past eight years, I have worked in the Buena Vista School District, teaching high school English.  Currently, I teach at Chaffee County High School, a small alternative school on Main Street.

My life is simple, probably much like yours.  I feel thankful for my wonderful friends and neighbors.  I love the physical beauty of this valley and I spend a lot of time outside, which keeps me healthy and content. I feel fortunate to live in a place that doesn’t force me to live a rushed life.

I decided to run for the commission for a few reasons.  First of all, the thought of participating in the democratic process on such an intimate level intrigues me.  Democracy only works if we show up, so I’m trying to do just that. I’m also interested because I understand that our system is not foolproof. It would be possible, in a situation like this, to join a committee in order to put forth your own personal agenda and ensure that a charter is written to make your ideals and goals easier to achieve. This concerns me, and rather than wait to see what kind of charter is created and possibly be unhappy with it later, I’ve chosen to run for the commission.

I have little political experience, but I bring other skills to the table. My daily work involves much reading and writing. I feel that I can express myself well on paper and I am not intimidated by reading dense, dry material or following long, drawn-out lines of reasoning.  I also served on the board of a local nonprofit for three years, preparing me for the fact that group decision making, despite its tremendous importance, is often quite tedious.

I understand why some people are against Home Rule.  If our charter is not written properly, and, particularly, if it is written by those with a personal agenda, it could harm Salida rather than help.  I myself believe in the power of local control and think that flexibility will help us solve our unique problems ourselves, rather than waiting for the state to do it for us.

However, we should not ignore points that those in opposition bring up. By keeping our charter free from self-interest, we help make democracy accessible to everyone.  If you choose to vote for me, I will do everything in my power to ensure that Home Rule will help our town, not harm it.  Thank you for your consideration.


Billy Carlisle

I moved to Salida seven years ago with my wife, Sydd, and my daughter, Pidge. My wife and I visited a friend who was performing at Bongo Billy’s in Salida. It was a lark, a spur of the moment visit with an old friend. We fell in love with Salida and the rest is history. Sydd and I work recruiting physicians and dentists nationwide, and our tools are the telephone and internet. Since we can work anywhere these basic services are available, we were able to settle in Salida and continue working in our chosen career path.

We decided to live in Salida because we found an interesting mix of people where we felt comfortable. We have found Salida to be a loving community with a strong civic conscience. We enjoy volunteering in our church and at the Lighthouse soup kitchen. We have met a lot of high caliber civic-minded citizens in this community and feel our lives have been enriched by those associations. The climate and scenery in Salida is the best mix I have ever seen. I cannot think of a place I would rather live.

I am very strongly against home rule and I hope the ballot measure for forming a Home Rule Charter Committee fails. I know this is confusing, but I am running to be on the committee should the yes vote prevail. I think if the measure passes we will need folks on the committee who will want to keep the growth of our city government under control and advocate strongly for the rights of citizens. I would be that voice on the committee.

These are things I think should be included in a Home Rule Charter should one be developed: keep our current governmental structure of two council members representing each of the three wards.  One mayor elected at large, with a leadership role, more than an executive role. Adopt the Sunshine Act and strengthen it. We should have voter approval before disposal of city-owned land. The ordinance adoption procedures and time tables should be the same as is current in our statutory city structure. Petition, referendum and recall should remain the same as under our current statutory rules. Require a council appointed commission for all city enterprises, including the water and sewer enterprise. Require voter approval before adoption of improvement districts, new fees and city collection of sales tax. Require voter approval of any proposed city created nonprofit corporations.

Almost all Home Rule charters grant more flexible authority to the city government, and I think this is a very bad idea. Taxation is the most problematic area. Most Home Rule communities have higher sales taxes than statutory cities like Salida. Many Home Rule communities add special new service area sales taxes. These taxes are frequently used to support high end recreational opportunities for the affluent citizens in the communities. Things like spa grade pools, and bigger golf courses. These are fine amenities to have, but funding them through sales taxes is grotesquely unfair to seniors on fixed incomes and working families with median income or lower income. Why should seniors and lower income folks be forced to subsidize luxuries for the wealthy? Why should they finance recreation opportunities for the wealthy, that they have neither the time or money to partake in them? Lower income citizens pay a higher percentage of their income on sales taxes than do middle and upper income families. Why would we want to push higher sales taxes onto seniors with fixed incomes when we have already more than doubled their water bills over the past five years?

Home Rule charters open the door for many regulations and rules that will put additional administrative costs and fees on small shops and businesses. Self-collection of sales taxes is a big priority for Home Rule cities. This is a layer of bureaucracy and administrative activity that will be a burden on small businesses. Typically, Home Rule communities have more involved and more expensive business licensing rules. The current city government wants to add a building department, which will be another costly city bureau.  How much more bureaucratic red tape should we put on small businesses that are struggling already?

Others things a Home Rule charter can provide is more ways to impose fees on citizens and small businesses. Most Home Rule communities have many new fees associated with rentals of items ranging from skis to ATVs. Most Home Rule communities have the ability to require new and more complicated business licenses (another fee). They could impose head taxes/fees on employees. Why would we want to raise fees on citizens and businesses in these tough economic times?  Fees are taxes by another name and should be subject to Tabor, like rules requiring a vote of the people. Home Rule municipalities give a lot of leeway to the council and administration in assessing fees. This is a bad idea.

I would have some significant experience to offer the committee in the area of business development and  zoning. Between 1981 and 1990, I was involved in site selection, design and construction of light industrial factories. I was responsible for $7 million annual construction budgets for each year of those seven years. This activity was coast to coast and I built plants in more than 20 cities. From 1989 to 2005, I helped my wife in a rental property business, as part owner and a worker in that business. This involved principally renovating, maintaining and renting apartments and houses. These business activities have given me the citizen’s and business owner’s perspective on dealing with building departments, zoning and planning. I have seen the best and the worst environments to try to establish and operate a business. I hope that Home Rule does not become a reality, but I could bring a business person’s perspective to a Home Rule Charter drafting committee.


Melodee Hallett

I am Melodee Hallett and, currently, a licensed massage therapist,  I have had a series 6 securities license, and held multiple insurance licenses since 1985. I have been in and around the medical/dental fields, alternative health, in sales, and working with the public.  I achieved over 500 interviews with many notable people who have various and as-sundry backgrounds because I am curious and want to go to the source/experts for answers to my questions. I did this as a volunteer via KHEN radio for five and a half years and  the Oracle Broadcasting Network the last the last two years. Like many people who have settled in the area of Salida, having three or four jobs at once introduced me to the new job paradigm so  prevalent today.

I have lived and worked in and around Salida since 1976 and I  am a Denver transplant with the rest of my family. We came here desiring to be involved with change to improve Salida, and it has taken almost 40 years for many of the changes to happen. I am not so sure it has all been positive, but the art community and revitalization of our downtown with the incorporation of the river into the process is very much appreciated. I miss a lot of the old flavor, as well. Salida has been a boom-and-bust community, which brought the likes of many here because it provided opportunities to get a start in the mountain lifestyle if one could weather the struggles that meant.

When Theresa Cortese started asking questions on the water rates, I became curious and decided to re-establish visiting various governmental meetings. One question led to another and then home rule was thrown in the mix.  Since the city decided to make an ordinance to begin the home rule process to add to all the other issues that a group of us concerned citizens were looking at, we jumped in to make sure input from a different perspective will be in the process if home is passed.

I have not been for home rule, not so much as from what it could be, but by how it is being implemented. This is a big deal and to create a limited time frame seems somewhat irrational. Many of the proponents of home rule keep telling me what home rule will bring to our community. I have to wonder how much of those statements come from a lack of knowledge of the state constitution and statutes?

I hear talking points with little proof of advantages of home rule over statutory government. Bring in cold hard facts of what the city can do with home rule they can not do with statutory that makes it worth going to the expense, time and effort to override a form of government that was designed by our forefathers as a back up to a federal government failure.

Two-hundred seventy possible home rule charters erode the effectiveness of our state constitution. If it is a matter of change for change sake . . . what can I say. If need be, I would prefer to be involved in the home charter process to not just make a charter, but an exemplary charter setting precedents other cities could only hope to attain.


Jan Sebastian


I was one of many who left the city left and moved to Salida in the early seventies for a better way of life. Out of the rat race of the city.  Social droputs, so to speak. Salida was quite a deferent place then. We came, bought property, fixed up our property and felt no need to change Salida into what we left.

Over the years, Salida has been discovered. As new people came, they brought their own ideas of what Salida should be. Many entered politics. Most with little or no knowledge of the job but with over active egos,

The result of this is now we have two Salidas. The city, the Mayor, Council, Administration, staff, employees and so on.

On the other hand, the people of the city, the citizens. The city, it seams is completely unconcerned with the interests of the people.

Home rule is being pushed on us by many of the Councilmen. It is not in the best interests of the people. I believe that bottom line is more money and power for the city.

If the first ballot issue passes and a committee is formed, I believe that it is important that there are people on the committee that will represent tee people and limit the power of the administration.


The Citizen is happy to provide a forum for comments and discussion. Please be civil, truthful, and relevant. Please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Real names are appreciated.

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