Barbara Noseworthy, a strategic planning consultant, plans to focus on promoting job creation, jump-starting affordable housing development and addressing homelessness if elected to Durango City Council.
Noseworthy is the second candidate to announce a run for City Council in recent days ahead of the April election. She plans to make a formal announcement Wednesday.
Noseworthy also wants to address the city’s budget shortfall and infrastructure needs and prepare the community for a changing climate, she said.
“My goal is not to change our town but help prepare for the 21st century,” she said.
She moved to Durango in 2015 after visiting with her husband, Jim Cunningham, while they prepared to hike the Colorado Trail in 2014.
Noseworthy is semi-retired after a 30-year career that included experience working in the administrations of universities and international nonprofits. If elected, Noseworthy said she will close her consulting business to focus on being a city councilor.
Some of her clients included The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Food Program and U.S.-based nonprofits.
In Durango, Noseworthy serves on the Durango Independent Film Festival board, the Durango Playfest board and the Durango Public Arts Commission.
Much of her professional work has focused on determining what a community wants, how to prioritize those items and how to fund them. Durango is facing many of these same questions, she said.
“Our budget constraints are real and will require prioritization and extensive public engagement. I have managed budgets up to $38 million and teams from 20 to 160 people,” she said in a news release.
Recently, city councilors have been trying to determine what to do after voters rejected a ballot measure in November to raise property and sales taxes for general city services, such as police and road maintenance.
Noseworthy said she would like to see the city make the budget process more transparent and easier to understand.
“I do believe that the city has a responsibility to really make the case, a solid, specific case for any project that it’s requesting a tax increase for,” she said.
Homelessness has been a hot topic for the city in recent months. The city has faced criticism by the American Civil Liberties Union for unfairly targeting homeless residents and possibly being in violation of the Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the right against cruel and unusual punishment, and the 14th Amendment, which guarantees the right to due process.
For Noseworthy, homelessness is an issue she would like the city and La Plata County to work together to address because she believes everyone should be able to live with dignity, respect and free from physical harm.
“It is something we can’t back away from,” she said.
To encourage affordable housing, Noseworthy plans to support policies established in the city’s recently adopted housing plan, such as promoting infill and adopting market-friendly policies.
“I very much want to see more housing in a denser area rather than sprawl,” she said.
The city’s affordable housing plan calls for the creation of 1,000 affordable housing units by 2040, and Noseworthy said she would like to look for ways to jump-start affordable housing development.
To bolster the economy, Noseworthy would like to see the city support a diversified tourism base, so that Durango is not as reliant on just a few tourism drivers, such as the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
To address climate change, Noseworthy said she would like to work with the county on cutting methane, promote renewable energy development and plan for a diminishing water supply.
Noseworthy said she recognizes she is a newcomer to the community, and she is meeting with many people to help establish her goals.
“I am doing a lot of listening and learning,” she said.