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  • Dylan Anderson

High cost of living, exodus of young professionals, top issues for Routt Commissioner candidate

Angelica Salinas, who currently works with the Steamboat Springs Chamber, says her goal is to ensure young families like hers can see a future for themselves in the Yampa Valley.

Angelica Salinas has been contemplating public service in the form of running for elected office for a long time, but the housing uncertainty that is common for young people in the Yampa Valley has always been a tripping point.


She’s lived in Steamboat and in Stagecoach two different times in her seven years in the valley, meaning what positions she would be eligible to run for based on where she lived was changing more frequently than these roles come to the ballot.


“Why don’t more young people run for office? Well, they don’t know where they’re going to be, and how long they are going to be there,” Salinas said. “You never know what district you’re going to be in or what office you can run for. … Once I had housing security and was settled here in South Routt, I really started looking at (County) Commissioner.”


Salinas, who has lived in the Yampa Valley for seven years and currently works for the Steamboat Springs Chamber as Director of Membership and Community Engagement, announced her candidacy for Routt County Commissioner on Wednesday, an election that will be held in November 2024. Addressing high cost of living locally that is forcing young professionals is Salinas’ top issue.


“As someone who is trying to build a family here, I’m living through the issues our county is facing. We’re losing residents in their 30s and 40s and there is a lack of economic mobility in our community,” said Salinas, who is 32 years old. “That issue is really close to my heart, the ability for young professionals and families to save and to build and improve their life. … My hope for the future is that people like me … can see a future here that so many others were once able to see for themselves.”

The district one seat Salinas is pursuing, which largely covers South Routt County, is currently held by Commissioner Tim Corrigan, who announced last month he would not pursue another term. The district two seat, which encompasses much of West and North Routt and is currently held by Commissioner Tim Redmond, is also on the ballot in 2024.


Salinas said she is proud of her work for the Chamber focused on economic development and supporting small business. This role has required advocating for businesses on both the local and state level, she said. This level of advocacy is part of why running for commissioner seemed like a logical next step.


In her role at the Chamber, Salinas said she has worked closely with the county commissioners, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when she was helping businesses sift through all the various restrictions put in place locally and at the state level.


The commissioner role is really split into three different buckets in Salinas mind. First is administrative, focusing on the county budget and ensuring operations are fiscally sound. Second is in that advocacy role, being vocal on a state level about the county’s needs, whether that be for land use, housing, child care, open space or water.


The third bucket, Salinas said, is really about connecting.


“How are we forming partnerships both locally and on the state level?” Salinas said. “The county can’t do everything, but we can advocate and help boost up the people who are experts in their areas.”


Other issues Salinas said are important to her are affordable and attainable housing and child care and environmental resilience. She said the county needs to be proactive when looking at growth, ensuring that it is balanced with preserving agricultural heritage, community character and the environment.


As she has considered a run for commissioner, Salinas said she has met with a wide variety of community members, including local legislators Meghan Lukens and Dylan Roberts, current Commissioner Corrigan and former Commissioner Beth Melton, among others. Melton and Lukens have endorsed Salinas’ commissioner campaign.


With the election more than a year away, Salinas said she is focused on having one on one conversations across the community and is encouraging residents to reach out to her. She has set up a website for her campaign at angelicasalinas.com.


“I want to be able to raise a family here, I want to be able to retire here. I want to be able to give back here,” Salinas said. “That is becoming such an impossibility for so many young families. … Being able to bring my own lived experience and be a voice for this new generation is really key.”


Top Photo Caption: Angelica Salinas, a candidate for the district one seat for Routt County Commissioner in 2024. (Angelica Salinas/Courtesy)

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