2011

30 March 2011: Kerry Ann McHugh is living the G-town dream

Kerry Ann McHugh is living the G-town dream

A few columns back I wrote about the disappearing American dream, even wondering if it were nothing more than a myth, a hook to keep us vested in a promise of America. But after visiting with Georgetown mayoralty candidate Kerry Ann McHugh, I’ve reconsidered, wondering if there might be substance to it.

Kerry Ann and husband Jeff arrived in Clear Creek in 1992 and settled in Georgetown in 1993. Like many others across the county, they fell in love with it all and said, “This is it.” They built a house, started a family, and immersed themselves into the community.

Kerry Ann, Jeff, and I talked at length after hours in Ed’s Café after a presentation by the Clear Creek Economic Development Corporation to the Board of Selectmen that revealed very distressing news about the Georgetown economy.

Kerry Ann focused primarily on the future of Georgetown not only from a business and economic perspective but also as a place for families with children. She pointed to the how the community rallied to save Georgetown Elementary, which now operates under a charter, an event seared in my memory having been the Board of Education representative at that time.

“We were all on the same page. It didn’t matter how we differed on other issues. Our school was the most important before us because no community can be sustainable without its school.

“So it’s about community in every sense of the word, a vibrant community that fosters a business friendly attitude, which in turn fosters infrastructure and public needs.”

From her point of view, the town has a role to play in business development.

“We could post links on the town’s website for prospective businesses to help them navigate the process, to make them aware of the resources available to them. We could post suggestions about types of businesses that might fill a need in the town.”

As a long-term member of the Planning Commission with firsthand experience with all the hoops potential start-ups face, Kerry Ann suggests a complete review of them, especially for the Gateway District.

Two problems to which she points are the excessive license fee, over three times—$251 versus $75—that of Idaho Springs, and the town not getting visitors to pull off I-70.

“We could consider waving the first year’s license fee just like how big cities give new business tax breaks. And we need to congeal our efforts in getting people to come to come to Georgetown.”

We reminisced about Georgetown history from the election and recall of former mayor Kolleen Brooks to Snowgate and the campaign that forced the founders and operators of the Georgetown Loop Railroad out.

“We need to keep moving forward, to embrace it,” she said about the Loop. “Mark Graybill is doing a great job bringing back riders, and many of the old crew has returned. But we need to keep asking the Colorado Historical Society, ‘Where is the new stock?’”

As to the campaign waged by her opponent Matt Skeen in comparison to hers, Kerry Ann insists she has stuck to the issues while he hasn’t.

“He doesn’t have anything positive, so he has to resort to negative tactics,” she maintains.

That caused me to recall Matt associating Kerry Ann with Kolleen, whom he describes as “a most colorful Police Judge.”

“[Kolleen] had an assistant and a bunch of advisors,” writes Matt, who “want another chance to take over the government of our town.” But now Matt boasts of the endorsement he claims he’s gotten from our former most colorful Police Judge.

You got to love Georgetown politics. If nothing else, it gives evidence to Charles Dudley Warner’s aphorism “politics makes strange bedfellows.”

In the end, this race is about two distinct visions for Georgetown, but arguably something greater is at stake: The ability of people, especially younger ones, to follow their dream, to build, to risk, to dare, unencumbered by strictures and roadblocks placed upon and in front of them by elders, who have had the chance to live theirs. It’s a generational battle, between one energetic as the noon sun and another riding into the sunset.

Wrapping up, Kerry Ann took the high road.

“We don’t have to agree. We just have to acknowledge we all love Georgetown and from there, we can move on.”

On April 4, we’ll learn if the dream lives on in Georgetown.

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