Commissioner Shriver seeks third term

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — “I want to continue to serve the residents of Rio Grande County,” said Karla Shriver announcing her candidacy for a third term as commissioner for District 2.  “I would be both humbled and honored if the people of Rio Grande County would see fit to elect me to this position again.” 

She explained, “My interest in running for a third term is to build upon key initiatives and provide steady leadership for the time ahead. I believe it is very important right now for there to be stability for Rio Grande County’s local government, to benefit all of our citizens.”

Over many years of extensive public service background, Shriver has served on numerous boards and commissions at the local, state, and national levels. She strives to serve a wide range of economic development and quality of life efforts for Rio Grande County and the San Luis Valley as a whole, through her involvement in and deep knowledge of many key aspects of community needs, from water issues to agriculture to county administration and financial stability. 

In addition to her core duties as a commissioner, she currently is a leader for the SLV Great Outdoors initiative, serves on the boards of the SLV Development Resources Group, the Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Team (RWEACT), the SLV Water Conservancy District, the SLV Federal Bank, the El Pomar SLV Regional Council, TSJC Advisory Council, and the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project.  Shriver’s past service includes 10 years on the Ski Hi Stampede Committee.

On a state level, she served on the Board of the Colorado Great Outdoors (GOCO).  She is presently serving on the National Association of Counties Telecommunication and Technology Committee, on the leadership team at Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) as the Vice President of the General Government Steering Committee, and on the board of County Technical Services (CTSI) for the County Health Pool.

Given her many years of serving the citizens of Rio Grande County, the San Luis Valley, and beyond, Shriver brings her experience and pragmatic views to the search for solutions to complex problems, many of which require funds and resources beyond the county’s financial capacity. She has long sought collaborative approaches that can leverage limited local funds, and works with the other SLV communities and state level entities to achieve lasting improvements. 

“I realize there are times where I am just unable to please everyone with the decisions we must make given our limited funds and massive challenges,” said Shriver, “but we are committed to doing the best we can with the information and resources we have and to address the situations at hand. I always welcome input from county residents and ideas for how to develop our economy, deliver services, and meet not only current needs, but also ways to position our county for a better future. I feel it is extremely important that the commissioners provide a visionary role for communities.”

Some of the initiatives Shriver would like to pursue in her third term as county commissioner include continuing the collaborative discussion between the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and Rio Grande County on moving the Summitville project forward. Rio Grande County obtained ownership of the super-fund Summitville site by default in 1996 as part of a settlement in a major lawsuit. Shriver would like to continue working to move this “county-owned, non-working asset” to a “working one” for the county. 

“Working on a vision for this project is exciting,” said Shriver. “It’s a chance to turn a past liability into an asset for our community, by perhaps defining the area better and making some areas accessible to the public. One other idea is collaborating with educators to study geology and history at the site, as well.  This will be a public process, and the commissioners will welcome public input when the appropriate time comes.”

Another challenge Shriver would like to help address for the county is to develop both senior and affordable housing. She notes that there is need for several of the existing facilities to be updated and for additional capacity through new construction. Shriver views a private/public partnership as a possible means to help achieve these goals and has been researching models in other communities to help move this idea forward.

Shriver has long worked for collaborative approaches to addressing community needs. “We have some excellent team approaches to accomplishing goals,” she noted. Among these are the updated County/Monte Vista/Del Norte/South Fork Master Plans, the Veterans Waste Water Treatment Plant that the County raised funds for a feasibility study for the City of Monte Vista. The county can help with continuing support for the Del Norte River Project as well as collaborating with Mineral County, the Town of South Fork, and Town of Creede for due diligence on viable alternatives for economic development.

“I would like to continue to bring my experience and knowledge to those efforts and serve in a leadership role as these initiatives move forward,” said Shriver. 

In particular, Shriver is deeply concerned about the personal, social, and financial costs to Rio Grande County and the overall SLV community of opioid and other drug addiction issues, from the impacts to families, schools, law enforcement, courts, and more.  She seeks to work with the other Valley counties, state entities and any willing partners to address these issues in new and cost effective ways that can truly benefit the affected people and the community as a whole.

During her two terms as Rio Grande County Commissioner, Shriver has achieved a great deal for Rio Grande County. A few of her successful efforts include: securing funding for and finalizing the pavilion building at Ski-Hi Park Complex; completing and implementing the San Luis Valley Great Outdoors Master Plan that guides Valley-wide planning for trails, recreation and outdoor tourism; securing funding to finalize the shade pavilion and interpretive signs at Summitville to enhance tourism in the county; securing funding for and promoting completion of the County Hydrology study that informs decisions and county regulations to protect water quality in the event of potential oil and gas drilling on public lands; drafting  and collaborating on the county OHV ordinance, and working with RWEACT on the county “shop local” project. 

“We have excellent collaborative efforts across Rio Grande County and with our neighboring counties that have accomplished real progress toward shared goals,” said Shriver.  “And I would like to continue to be on those teams and serve in a leadership role to help move these and new innovative ideas forward.”

In addition to developing new initiatives, county commissioners are responsible for running the complex administrative, budgetary and policy-making functions of the county. Shriver has worked closely with the other elected officials and county staff to make local government as efficient, transparent and effective as possible. 

“I would like to thank all the Rio Grande County employees for their dedication to service of the community. Our employees are the greatest asset we have, and Rio Grande County has some excellent ones,” said Shriver. “While there is always work to do to improve our services, I appreciate the dedication and skills they bring to the service of the county, and the great work they all strive to do.”

Among her many community service efforts of late, Shriver has also been active on other community projects throughout the Valley which include the renovation of Ski Hi Park, developing new facilities for both the Kids Connection in Monte Vista and the High Valley Community in Del Norte, the renovation of the Homelake church, and supporting conservation efforts that help to sustain the beauty of our open space, agriculture, wildlife habitat and the rural qualities of the San Luis Valley that are valued by the citizens of Rio Grande County.

“As a county commissioner, I am proud of my accomplishments over two terms,” said Shriver. “I’ve worked to bring in outside supplemental funds through grants and collaborative efforts. As for the core operations for the county, we worked hard with staff and fellow commissioners in late 2015 and early 2016 to keep the county moving forward when it did not have a county administrator. And we continue to work with our neighboring counties and municipalities on economic development projects to benefit Rio Grande County and the Valley as a whole. If we all work together, we can be creative and find funding for projects from many sources to move projects forward, leveraging scarce county dollars and finding other sources to achieve our shared goals.”

In addition to her role as commissioner and extensive community service over several decades, Shriver operates her family farm east of Monte Vista, where she raises potatoes, small grains, and hay crops. She has lived in the Valley for more than 32 years and has an extensive background and knowledge in finance, real estate, agriculture and water, all of which are important in her role as county commissioner.

For more information about county issues and her campaign for a third term in service to Rio Grande County, contact Karla Shriver at 719-850-5808 or at [email protected]. Keep in touch and learn more on Facebook at Karla Shriver for Rio Grande County Commissioner. Please feel free to call her at any time (before 9 p.m.) as she welcomes all ideas and will gladly engage in productive conversations that can benefit Rio Grande County.