Bayfield Board of Trustees candidates emphasized the local economy, recreation and activities for children in the weeks leading up to the April 7 municipal elections.
Residents who live within town limits will choose three of four candidates to fill the open board seats and lead the town for the next four years. Candidates are relying on word of mouth, social media and a League of Women Voters candidates forum April 2 to show why they are the right choice for Bayfield.
Two newcomers, Aaron Wamsley and Lori Zazzaro, and two incumbents, David Black and Kristin Dallison, are running for the three open board seats. Only one candidate, Ashleigh Tarkington, is running for mayor to replace Matt Salka.
“Being a Town Board member is an oddball thing,” said Black, who joined the board again in 2018 after serving in the 2000s. “It really is where state government hits the pavement in so many ways.”
The Board of Trustees makes decisions that affect the local economy, infrastructure and budget. Trustees decide how to invest town funds and which projects to prioritize. They represent the town in local, regional and state organizations.
Tarkington, owner of the Billy Goat Saloon and a Bayfield resident since 2003, will appear as the only choice for mayor on the ballot.
Her top priorities for the town are hiring a permanent town manager, the small business economy, downtown revitalization and recreation, she said.
Kayaks and splash padsThe newcomer and incumbent trustee candidates turned their attention to recreation in the almost 3,000-person town.
Bayfield is centrally located between the Vallecito Reservoir, Pagosa Springs, Ignacio and Durango, with easy access to the Los Pinos River and San Juan National Forest.
Wamsley, a Bayfield Primary School teacher, thinks the town isn’t focusing on its recreation economy enough.
“Bayfield is underutilizing the Los Pinos River,” he said. “It’s like it doesn’t exist in this town.”
Wamsley, who moved to Bayfield in 2018, is a former electrician, raft guide and woodworker. Recreation is his top priority as a candidate. The Los Pinos could be a premiere fishing destination, and it could have a river walk and a kayak/raft take-out next to Mill Street, helping to spur the downtown economy, he said.
The other newcomer candidate, Zazzaro, also is focused on recreation and youth activities in addition to high-speed internet, downtown revitalization and spurring the small business economy.
Zazzaro, a Bayfield resident since 2015, is an emergency manager for San Juan Basin Public Health. She also holds leadership roles with four organizations, including the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and the Southwest Colorado Medical Reserve Corps.
She wants to develop more businesses and activities in town to keep local money local, she said. “Anytime I’m part of something, even in my community, I always take a leadership role,” Zazzaro said. “What do you need? I’m there to do it.”
The incumbentsIncumbent candidates Black and Dallison highlighted parks and recreation opportunities and the town’s parks and recreation plan.
Black, born in La Plata County and a Bayfield resident for 25 years, prioritized infrastructure projects and hiring a quality town manager.
Black is a substitute teacher with the Bayfield School District. He retired as the owner of Blue Ribbon Woodworks in the 2010s. He represents the town with the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments and the San Juan Resources and Development Council.
He said he provides institutional memory on the board and sees it as a way to stay involved in the community.
“I care,” Black said. “I’m judicious with their resources. I care about most everybody in the community.”
Dallison, raised in Bayfield and a board member since 2016, focused on continuing maintenance and infrastructure projects.
Dallison represents the town on the Pine River Senior Center board. She is a stay-at-home mother of two young children and formerly worked in customer service.
She said the town should increase its law enforcement capacity as the town’s population increases. She also wants to see a local hotel or motel in the future.
Running for the board is a big decision, she said. There are not many people who are willing to run for a board position, and the community needs it.
“I really care about this community,” Dallison said. “I just felt like it was still my need, my calling, to do it again.”