Today we’re sitting down with Trinidad City Council candidate, Erin Ogletree.
Ogletree is a retired attorney who moved to Trinidad in 2015 and since has served on several civic boards, leading her to believe her questioning and research skills can best be utilized on Trinidad’s City Council.
If elected, Ogletree promises to “ask the hard questions,” do the long research and use her strengths to lead the city to making the best possible decisions. Ogletree fell in love with Trinidad in part to it’s welcoming atmosphere and she promises to guard that sentiment as Trinidad grows and attracts more people wanting to make Trinidad home
Here is the rest of our interview with candidate Erin Ogletree:
The Chronicle-News: How long have you lived in Trinidad?
Erin Ogletree: I have lived here since the beginning of 2015. We started our process of moving to Trinidad in July of 2014 and it took about six months to find our house and where we wanted to live and moved in in January of 2015.
Both of us, my partner and I, had come to Trinidad separately from each other and had stopped here on the way to other places. I stopped here to go to McDonalds and got out of the car and I was like ‘What is this?’ and I was just fascinated by the architecture and put in the back of my mind ‘I would like to visit this place sometime and see what it’s all about.’
The same thing had happened with (my partner) Liz so we came out on a road trip and were only going to spend one night in Trinidad and we ended up spending four nights here and looking for real estate. We met a lot of people that were incredibly welcoming and for a small town, we never felt like we were intruding, everyone was happy we were here and we were just impressed with that.
TCN: Why have you decided to run for office?
Erin Ogletree: I have been serving on the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and I have been serving on the Creative District board now. I have served HPC for three years and the other one for two.
As a result of that, I have been able to see some of the internal workings of the city and how decisions are made and I’ve enjoyed my service on both of those boards and commissions and I have thought my strengths are serving in those types of roles: studying issues and asking hard questions and trying to help that body make the best decision possible, so that’s why.
TCN: What are some of the challenges you see our town facing and how will you address them?
Erin Ogletree: I’ve spent the last few weeks and I will continue this up to the election, talking with people who are representative of various groups around the city to find out what their concerns are.
A lot of things you hear is that there are concerns about the people being drawn into town, the homelessness population, there is a lot of concern about that, a lot of concern about diversifying the economy, not being so reliant on marijuana. So those are things that I have heard that also concern me. I think our city council has done a very good job of managing this ‘Green Boom’ and managing expectations about what it means for Trinidad and also managing the money well. They have been transparent about that and I admire that about them.
As far as the economy, a lot of people have talked to me about the idea of making Trinidad more focal in regard to hemp production and processing and I think that is a great idea. Colorado as a whole needs to use this attention it’s gotten from legalizing recreational marijuana to focus on those kind of products.
What I’ve been doing, in terms of talking to people, is to talk to people that own small businesses and ask them how the city can help them grow their business. How can the city help support you better than it is [already]?
And that I’m still gathering input on that, but one of the things that we can do a better job with is making sure that people from out of town knows what is here and can spend more time here, rather than just buying something and leaving. I’d like them to stay longer and help the businesses draw in new ones.
Because of everything that is going on with Space to Create and Artspace and Fisher’s Peak now being a state park, which is fantastic, the city council is going to face more attention from people saying ‘I want to bring a business here.’ What is in our control. is to be a professional city that they can deal with. We can be responsive, we can be helpful, to draw them here.
One thing I would love to see is additional business; clean manufacturing that will employ 25-50 people and will support those workers to raise a family.
I love it when families move here. It makes me so happy. Before we came here I did a lot of research about Trinidad and what you find when you learn about the history of Trinidad is that it has been a bustling city full of people and families and deep and long relationships that have been built over the years. I would like to help Trinidad restore that. But I think the only way we can do that is to go forward. And that means new people coming into town and welcoming them.
TCN: How will you work to maintain a positive relationship between the city and county?
Erin Ogletree: A couple things: I think there should be some kind of city liaison to the county and vice versa, so they are aware of each other and what they are doing.
Our economies are interdependent. Trinidad has been growing and right now Las Animas County is declining in population, so whatever Trinidad can do to help that, Trinidad should do.
I think whatever barriers there are to working together can be overcome, because we need each other.
There are several hemp facilities that operate in the county and those people may work in the county, but live in the city, so they are going to have a say on what happens here. And then there have been those people that say ‘I can’t vote for you, because I live in the county.’ And I don’t really care about that, because you do your work here, or you do your shopping here. This is the center of our civic society. We need to hear about what you want out of your city too.
It’s important to get that input from people that live in the county. We’ve changed our ordinances so people that live in the county can serve on city boards, not all of them, but some and that’s a great thing, because they are invested and they want to see Trinidad thrive just as much as we do.
TCN: Why should the public vote for you?
Erin Ogletree: I love Trinidad. That’s why I’m here. I am devoted and I am devoted to helping it become everything it can be.
I’m someone who is not afraid to ask hard questions and my goal on city council would be to ask the questions that will lead us to the best decisions.
I am a retired attorney. By trade, I am used to dealing with hard situations and working through situations to find the best resolution to them. So, that’s why I am hoping to be elected. I would look forward to that service very much.