As part of our “Conversations with the Candidate-elect” interviews, Ark Valley Voice spoke with Alisa Pappenfort, the Salida City council-elect representing Ward 3. The five Salida candidate-elects, who ran unopposed, will take their positions following the Nov. 5 general election.
Pappenfort has worn many different hats in roles all across Chaffee County. She is currently serving as treasurer for the City of Salida after she was appointed to fill the city treasurer vacancy by the Salida City Council members in February. At the time, she was serving as the Salida City Clerk. Pappenfort said she is confident that her diverse background and work ethic will allow her to be a contributing voice to the Salida City Council.
- What is your favorite part about Salida?
“The small-town feel is what brought me here. I feel like it is a very safe community and a great place to raise kids. I’m on my second generation of doing that. And of course, the beautiful views.”
- What has been your role in the community (jobs/occupations, volunteer positions, committees, etc.)
“I have worked in lots of different places. Just like the majority of the workforce, volunteering was not something I had time to do, working multiple jobs at one time. In the 80s, I did domestic violence work, and I was a volunteer on-call taking my turn on the pager. We helped women with safe places and lots of things that go around domestic violence issues. It was very eye-opening about how people were living in so much fear in the places we feel we should be the safest — at home. I became the director of that for a couple of years, and then I went back to more regular work. It’s a high burnout type of work, as you can imagine. Seeing some of the things that you see are difficult to see.
“I have worked in publishing for a self-publisher. We helped people create their own books. I worked in a manufacturing plant. Right now, I work at the Boys and Girls Club. I’ve been there for 10 years as their financial administrator, which means I do more things than just finance. I worked at the county, where I recorded land descriptions. I worked at a title company posting land descriptions in longhand. I’ve waited tables. I feel like my diverse background is one of my strengths. I know what it is like to be a single mom working multiple jobs — having very little time to spend with your family because you’re working so much. That’s what I have been doing here since I was 20 years old. Trying to hold it all together in lots of places.”
- What do you hope your new role (or continuing in your role) will do for the community?
“Well, I am hoping to bring common sense to the council, which is what I try to bring into everything that I do. I am not one of the über-wealthy. I’ve been here a long time, but I’m not a native, even though I hang out with lots of them. I think I have the capacity to understand lots of different points of view and bring a lot of empathy to that. What I hope is just to continue being me.”
- The Envision survey highlighted community desires. Please pick one (housing, workforce, short-term rentals) and tell us about your ideas and strategies to better resolve the issue in the community.
“I think that council is on the right track with affordable housing: making it a requirement for building whatever development you’re going to build. Twelve-and-a-half percent of it has to be at 80 percent area median income (AMI), or better if you can do better. People are providing this. I am hoping to see this fund build up so we can buy land because buying land would be the best way to keep the [housing] cost down. We know the cost of land is the huge primary driver.”
- Also, from the Envision survey was the topic of newcomers. What are your thoughts on welcoming newcomers, and how can you connect them to the City of Salida’s history?
“One of the projects council is taking on now is a communications project. I am very excited about that because we do need to find ways people wanted to be communicated [with]. Then try to reach them the way they want to be contacted. Most of us would probably prefer that city council come to our door and just asked us our opinion on a dozen things. Which is why we have a representative government because it’s just not realistic to do that.
“We do have lots of people taking surveys to try and gauge where people are coming from. So that’s exciting, and it will be great to see what the communication experts come up with because they have a lot more experience [in this] than we do. You often hear it’s the same 10 people who are going to everything. So while we do the surveys, we are looking to see if it is just the same people over and over again and how can we expand that.”
- What does collaboration mean to you?
“Collaboration means hearing all the different viewpoints and then trying to come up with a compromise that does the most good for the most people. I think that when you’re looking at the fringes, the people who always say “no”, the people who always say “yes”, you’re never going to please those people. I expect that if everybody is a little bit mad at you all the time, that means that you’re successful with compromise.”
- What keeps you up at night?
“It’s much larger things than the city that keep me up at night. With local government, we have such an opportunity to be influential and to have our voices heard and to be able to make the difference. I think we are in a really good space. It’s very global for me, for what keeps me up at night.”
For previous Conversations with the Salida Candidates-elect: