Chris Bettin – Durango City Councilor
A future with the respect for the character of our past.
It’s an honor to serve Durango as a City Councilor. When I first arrived in Durango, Colorado in the fall of 1988 to attend Fort Lewis College, I experienced a sense of belonging in this community that rivaled all of my other experiences in life. Though I would find myself living to work thereafter in the resort industry in southern California, Denver, Tampa, Palm Beach and St. Simons Island, Georgia, as I variously plied my tourism and resort management business degree in assorted capacities, it was the years away that taught me about the importance of place in our lives. And there is no place like Durango. After about a decade of long hours trying the corporate ladder, Durango beckoned and in the summer of 2000 I took a leap of faith like many do, dispensing with the “career path” in favor of the quality of life path.
Like most of us who make that decision to make Durango their home, I’ve never looked back, and never regretted having to build my own ladders made out of pieces and parts of available opportunities instead of climbing those exclusively built by others. That’s what many of us do in Durango in order to make this amazing place our home. The life path hasn’t always been an easily traveled one, but this place and the people here have rewarded me and my family at every stage with the constancy of kindness, integrity, love for the land where we live and recreate upon, and the common bonds built from a collective desire to put the quality of our lives and those of our family and friends above the lesser pursuits of the brass ring. I have greatly benefited by the countless hours many have spent volunteering in our community to keep us on course and to nurture and protect the spirt and character of our hometown. It’s time for me to do my part.
I’ve had the good fortune of watching my significant other Christina Rinderle work tirelessly as a city councilor for the last eight years. It has been inspiring to see someone whose commitment to community service is such a sustaining and meaningful presence in her life, and to understand that her efforts have genuinely impacted our collective progress as a community in such a positive way. As I’ve watched the many meetings and considered the issues over these years, I’ve realized that politics truly is local and that the issues our local government contends with are so much more impactful on the experience of our lives in our community than most of the issues we often pay more attention to on the state or national level.
As I’ve considered the many ways in which I might serve this community, as part of the time commitment I make to that part of my life, city council really loomed large as a way for me to be a part of something critical in preserving the quality of life of our amazing city. Additionally, like many of us, I’ve really had to do a lot of soul searching about the nature of the current political realities in this country and by extension in our city. I wanted to be engaged in the process instead of sitting on the sidelines, to be proactive rather than reactive. We’ve all benefitted by the many city councilors who have sacrificed their time, families and careers to sit on that dais and in the many meetings and study sessions for the benefit of us all, and I feel compelled serve our community by following the example of so many who have come before me and made that commitment.
Someone I greatly admire recently said this in one of his final speeches, “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. For those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America–and in Americans–will be confirmed.” Those words resonated with me and I’m looking to restore a little of that faith for myself, and perhaps in my own small way, for as many others as I’m able.
It’s critical that we make every effort as our community responds to change and growth to offer as many diverse housing opportunities as possible. One of the core and critical elements of Durango’s character is that it’s a “real town” with a diverse and enriching spectrum of people and socio-economic realities. Our values are inclusive and our housing opportunities need to reflect the same. Density issues, the comprehensive development plan, affordable housing initiatives, accessory dwelling units, parking requirements and other development and enforcement issues are going to be integral to shaping how our community grows, and if it provides for housing opportunities for the widest spectrum of our citizens as possible.
“The only constant is change.” Though we may wish it wasn’t so sometimes, much of the challenge and opportunity facing our community is how to grow and change without drifting off course. I want our community to strive toward a sustainable purpose, to hope to become a place where my twelve year old son, and all of our other young community members, can reasonably consider living here if they want to because there are opportunities for them to work in meaningful and rewarding careers and to have reasonable expectations to be able to afford housing and the local cost of living at every stage of their lives. This is not growth at all costs. This is growth carefully fostered and guided by the core character elements of our community as foundational.
Our evolving community is substantially impacted by the pace of growth and change. The citizens of La Plata County recently sent a clear message that they’re not currently interested in a new airport terminal or funding our roads and bridges, though we’re all faced with aging and needy infrastructure issues while tax revenues from our once robust oil and gas community decline. A safe and modern infrastructure is vital to our ability to serve the local economy, attract businesses capable of employing our citizens with higher wages, and to fuel the many economic multipliers so paramount to the health of our local economy and community. Aside from the obvious issues above, we are also faced with broadband Internet infrastructure needs as a vital productive utility. Transit funding is imperiled, but relevant to serving a broad array of our citizens and easing the burdens on transportation corridors. I’m focused on working strenuously with all of our community stakeholders and citizens on how to best manage our infrastructure issues by seeking out creative solutions and exploring best practices for overcoming our current tax funding shortfalls.
I first moved to Durango in 1988 to attend Fort Lewis College, where I would ultimately get degrees in Business Administration/Tourism and Resort Management, Philosophy and English Literature. I’m currently the co-owner of Durango Land and Homes and Premier Vacation Rentals Group. I have a twelve-year-old son, Dylan, who is the biggest basketball fanatic, besides me, who I know. I’m an avid musician, writer, skier and mountain biker. Click here for more.