Keith Baker, incumbent Democratic candidate for Chaffee County Commissioner Dist. 1, said there are three things he strives for as county commissioner; building community, preserving heritage and preparing for the future.
Baker said growing up in the south and starting work young, as well as his 23 years in the U.S. Navy, gave him a solid work ethic and a focus on purpose driven leadership.
“I’m not interested in running for a higher office,” Baker said. “This, to me, is the crowning achievement.”
Q What do you see as positives and negatives of the comprehensive plan the county is working on?
A “I don’t see any negatives,” Baker said. “We have to have an optimistic but realistic expectation.
“There are going to be people who see it negatively affecting them, but that’s not a motivation for denying it.
“As I said, we need to prepare for the future, preserve our heritage and build community.
“If people are more engaged and given a bigger contribution, they would take more ownership.
“We need a way to communicate with people looking to relocate here, or start a business, a way for the community to identify what their plan for future growth is, and that’s what the plan does.”
Q What are your thoughts to updating the land use code after the comprehensive plan is finished?
A “I don’t think we are going to go right into making changes to the land use code, once the comprehensive plan is finished,” Baker said.
“There will be a bit of pause. We will have to apply for a DOLA (Colorado Department of Local Affairs) grant.
“It’s about looking at the big picture, identifying areas in the county, but adjacent to the municipalities, to focus new growth.
“We also need to do things as a county, in terms of density and encouraging good growth, like higher density and multi-family developments, easing transportation.
“I would also like to see more things being approved through administration approval, rather then having to go through the planning commission or county commissioners.
“Let’s create incentives and make it easier to build what we want.”
Q What are some steps that can be taken to help the planning commission, with COVID-19 and the difficulty with public hearings?
A “I would like to see more compensation for the planning commission,” Baker said.
“The applications, I believe, are only going to continue to grow, so we need to look at ways to increase the compensation for the time the planning commission puts in.
“Also, if we make the application process easier, and finish the comprehensive plan, they wouldn’t have as big of a burden on them.
“I think we need to encourage communication and collaboration between the county and the municipalities.”
Q What are some ways you think we can encourage business and tourism in the county?
A “Much of the economy in the county is tourism based, and I’d like to see us looking at ways to diversify, so we aren’t so dependant on it,” Baker said.
“We also need to continue to stress the Chaffee County way of tourism; low impact, leave no trace, be a responsible outdoor tourist, trail courtesy and fire protection.
“Chaffee Common Ground are working on recreation mitigation impact, and are finding ways to improve the trails and trailheads, including information there for education.
“I think we also need more pit toilets at many of the major trailheads. Some don’t have any at all and it’s creating a mess.”