Just like everywhere I go most people’s first question to me in Boulder is always “how tall are you?” “6’6” is the answer. Other than that, my story is probably like a lot of people’s who have lived in Boulder.
I moved here from Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2006 to go to CU’s Leeds School of Business. Like most people I remember that first time coming down the hill on 36, with Boulder resting up against the Flatirons like something out of a dream. Once I got to walk around the Pearl Street Mall, down the Boulder Creek Path, and through CU’s campus, I knew I loved this place.
I spent my four years at CU getting a degree in Marketing, working a job at the brand-new Boulder Best Buy to help pay for college expenses. Even more important to me than class was my dedication to CU’s rowing team. Despite the six days a week of 5:00am wakeups and two-a-day workouts, nothing could keep me from working together toward a shared goal with my teammates. However, through that shared commitment we became a top-10 club rowing team, and I was chosen to be a team captain my junior and senior year. After I graduated in 2010, I felt it was important to give back to the rowing team. I had already been coaching Boulder’s high school rowing team, Colorado Junior Crew, but I knew I had to help maintain the CU’s program so more people could get the experience I received. Soon after I started as an assistant our Head Coach moved away, making me the new Head Coach of CU Crew. As a 23-year-old suddenly in charge of the safety and success of dozens of college kids the pressure was on, but I gained great experience as a leader in that tough situation.
At the time I’d just gotten my first major job out of school, working for an open source hardware company called SparkFun Electronics doing marketing. I’ve been working at least two jobs ever since so I could continue to live in Boulder. After I was done coaching four years later, I needed a new second job. Luckily, I had an in to be a door guy at the Walrus, so I spent the next four years trading 5am wakeups for 2am bar closings. Working in the service industry taught me a lot about having a thick skin and de-escalating tense situations, but more than anything I’m thankful to have met some of the best people I know.
In 2016 I got my first major dose of politics. Like so many people in Boulder I got fired up by Bernie Sanders’ campaign. I went to my first caucus ever, and ended up as a delegate for the Sanders campaign at the county level. After the results of the 2016 election, I felt like I had to do more. I looked around at my own city and saw the levels of inequality were growing greater. It was harder and harder to pay rent over 10 years. All of my friends from college had moved away to buy a house and start a family. My service industry friends were working a few jobs a piece and still couldn’t afford to live in Boulder. Had I not saved all the money I could to buy a one-bedroom condo in 2016, I would have been just another person living in one of the surrounding L-cities. I couldn’t believe that the growing inequality and monetization of Boulder was going push out all these people who were helping to make it such a unique place. That’s why I decided to run for City Council in 2017.
My time on the Housing Advisory Board has given me in-depth knowledge about Boulder’s housing systems and policies. I have been able to interact with staff and residents to tackle major projects and find solutions to housing concerns. I serve on the board’s Engagement Committee which is responsible for improving our outreach and engagement process surrounding housing issues. We have created a new format for engagement by introducing listening sessions that bring in specific communities we don’t hear from frequently. Our very first session was about the affordable housing experience. This gave us great insight into the benefits and challenges of our permanently affordable housing programs. As chair of the board I’ve had the opportunity to lead our board through tough issues utilizing Robert’s Rules of Order. All of these experiences on a City Board have given me a level of knowledge about city processes and housing issues that only a handful in Boulder possess.
Recently I’ve left my main job of eight years and taken a part-time job at a local honey company called Björn’s Colorado Honey. I’m extremely excited to help my two friends grow their small business while still being able to consult for my former company. This also frees up time for my next step in life. After walking this winding road of education, employment, and local politics, I’ve decided to run for a City Council seat again. I believe I now possess the ability and insight to serve as a Council member that will help me reduce our city’s inequalities while preserving the things that we love. We can come together to address our housing affordability crisis, our climate change impacts, and our transportation issues. We can form a city-wide engagement process that helps us build community, not tear it apart. This vision is possible, and I’m willing to fight for it. I want to stand tall for you, and stand tall for Boulder.