KFFR producer announces run for District 3 County Commissioner
District 3 County Commissioner Kris Manguso is retiring from the role this year, and the seat is up for the November election. Commissioners handle Grand County’s administration and budget, and sit as the Grand County Housing Authority Board, Board of Human Services and Board of Health. This month, Steve Skinner stepped up as the democratic candidate. Most are familiar with Skinner as the “voice” of KFFR 88.3 FM. He produces the station and is its community liaison. After years of working in journalism and radio, he is now turning towards a role in public service. He is up against Republican candidate Randy George, who Sky-Hi interviewed in March. Voters can cast their ballots for either candidate Nov. 8. The Sky-Hi caught up with him about his decision to run, and how he wants to help the people of Grand County.
How long have you lived in Grand County, and why did you decide to make Grand your home?
I started living and working in Fraser in 2018. I was invited to help foster Colorado’s newest non-commercial radio station, KFFR. I moved here from Redstone, Colorado.
Why did you choose to run for the county commissioner position?
Representation. I attended a Planning and Zoning Committee meeting about a large second-home development. The experience felt futile, and I saw that the voices of the locals in the room were ignored and not taken seriously. That made me want to represent local workers, single moms, single people, the local workforce, youth, retirees and people who have committed themselves to making a living here. I was approached by the Grand County Democratic Party and decided to go for it.
How do your work experience and skills relate to the county commissioner position?
I have dedicated most of my life to community service and communications. My career choices have always been based on this principal. How can I make a difference? As a public radio station manager, I have always bucked current trends, to great success. I have always believed that empowering local people, including youth, to serve the community through broadcasting is much more rewarding than programming a radio station to hook the most listeners. I believe that providing community access is more important than winning the numbers game. That’s why you hear dozens of local amateur voices on KFFR, including kids. My volunteer experience has also informed my life. In Glenwood Springs, I trained to be an advocate and answered the domestic abuse hot line. Here in Grand County, I just finished training to become a hospice volunteer. If I can help someone in trouble or lift someone’s spirits, I want to do it.
What are the most pressing issues the county faces, and how will you tackle them?
The county is diverse and generates unique issues that run from resort pressures on one end to water, housing and social issues on the other. People cannot afford childcare. Kids are our future and I’d like to see them have the chance to thrive and become lasting locals. We all deserve a healthy environment, whether you want to catch fish, hunt deer or ride the trails. The healthier the environment, the more resilient our community will be when it comes to fire, drought and other considerations. I don’t feel like we need to lure every tourist in the world here to exploit our resources. Balance is key.
We need affordable housing county wide. I’d like to work on that. Pitkin County has more than 3,200 affordable housing units. How can we learn from the success of other communities that are in the same position as us, but have had significant success? I’d like to look at the county’s energy use and see if we can improve our resilience there. New development needs to contribute to our communities and environment, not just drain the water and our resources, and pack the roads.
How will you ensure county positions are filled by qualified employees?
I’d like to be an advocate for Grand County employees. Everything is connected. If there are few places to live, it will always be a challenge to fill open positions, especially if wages offered are moderate. How can anyone come work for Grand County if they can’t find a place to live or affordable childcare? The Grand County employees who are already here doing good work deserve a work environment that is supportive. I find that most people like a job that offers fun, freedom and flexibility. I’m interested in fostering a positive work environment with county employees. If you feel like you are part of a team working toward something good, then you will be a more dedicated employee. People need to be empowered to do their best work and be appreciated when they do it.
What is your experience with budgets and accounting, and what are your goals for the county’s budget?
I have run successful non-profits for nearly 20 years, keeping things realistic and in the black. I am fiscally conservative and mindful of wasteful spending. There are ways to pay for the amenities we require without over-reaching.
Grand is growing quickly; how will you manage building, infrastructure and development of both businesses and affordable housing?
I’d like to encourage locally-owned businesses and help them to thrive. Again, all things are connected. Owning a small business here is challenging when you can’t fill open positions because of the cost of living and raising a family. Development for development’s sake is not working for everyone. We need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to approving large-scale second home developments because as long as it’s legal, someone is going to do it. Any development decision needs to consider where the water is coming from to flush those toilets, what kind of energy is heating those homes and where the affordable units are for locals. Who benefits from the development? This is our community and we can decide how we want it to grow.
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