Bayfield Mayor Matt Salka is running for county commissioner in District 3, which includes the Bayfield, Ignacio and Vallecito areas, in November 2020.
He said he never expected to run for office, but discovered community work is what he loves doing most. “I found a calling. I really enjoy serving the people,” he said.
Salka was elected mayor in 2016 and his term is up in 2020. He owns information technology and pest control businesses, which he said he finds himself participating in less and less despite the fact that they are what pays the bills. Being elected to commissioner would allow him to move on from his businesses and focus more on his passion.
Before running for mayor, Salka was on the town board. He is also currently the secretary for the La Plata County Development for Economic Alliance and on the town planning commission.
Salka is running on the Democratic ticket, which might be a hurdle in the conservative district.
“Bayfield is more Republican dominant, but I think I proved I am there for everyone,” he said. “I don’t have an agenda. My agenda is, what is best for the county? I’m here to reach across the table and hear everyone about the problems they are facing.”
As mayor, he said he’s developed relationships with the county, towns and city. He said he knows how to work on a tight budget, which would be an asset to the county and to help figure out budget revenue shortfalls. His goals are to keep tasks in-house, and retain and attract new businesses to the area to keep up with future growth.
Salka’s father was a commander in the U.S. Navy for 25 years, so he moved around a lot. He says he’s not from anywhere, though he went to Fort Lewis College and moved to Bayfield 19 years ago.
“This is home for me,” he said.
The family of his wife, Veronica, who is on the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s board, has been in the area since 1896. The Salkas have a 14-year-old son, Caden, who will be going to Bayfield High School next year.
No one else has announced they are running, but it’s still early. Current Commissioner Julie Westendorff’s term is up in January 2021. Salka said he is closely following the commissioners on what they are doing this year and will be updating issues that need to be addressed during his campaign. He plans on speaking to residents to discover what services people expect from the county and what services could potentially be cut.
But for now, he is focused on his current job.
“My No. 1 priority is to take care of the town as mayor,” he said. “At the end of my term, I will ramp up campaigning.”