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Introduction

At the core of elective public service is the trust that citizens express when they vote for a candidate.  Having held elective office on Woodland Park City Council for seven years, I understand the special obligations that trust places on me.

A vital part of a Commissioner's responsibilities is managing the county's budget.  In my 35 year career in health care administration I successfully managed several multi-million dollar budgets.  Besides ensuring full compliance, my goals were to reduce expenses, which means leveraging operational efficiencies, eliminating redundancies, being cost-conscious, and drafting short- and long-term strategic plans.

I want to bring those demonstrated capabilities and skills to the county's budget process, to ensure your taxes are as low as possible, and to keep government lean and efficient.

I will ensure that the principles and values I campaign on will be unfailingly applied to the issues I am charged to address as your County Commissioner.  My principles can best be described as Constitutional conservatism, which means I will test each issue and decision to determine whether it is within our Constitutional framework.  If it is, I will apply conservative principles in my decision-making process.

In practical terms, it means I will advance the virtue of limited government, of an efficient and conscientious use of finite taxpayer resources to meet the needs of our county’s citizens.

We often hear of people who pledge to be responsive to the citizens but once elected those well-intended pledges are forgotten.  As someone who has acutely felt that frustration dealing with politicians over the years, when I was a City Councilman, I responded to people’s concerns and applied my principles of limited government with my guarantee of complete transparency.  That is the pledge I make to you if you honor me with your vote.

Now, we’ll discuss the issues that I will focus on as your County Commissioner.

Transportation

Since May 2018, when I registered my candidacy with the Secretary of State’s office, I’ve heard residents express serious concerns about our transportation infrastructure.

In particular, with the current demographic trends of significantly higher population projected to continue, they’re concerned about Highways 24 and 67.  The decades-long discussion of a reliever route for Highway 24 is at center of many of these concerns.

Because I share these concerns, since May 2019 when I stopped working, I began attending the meetings of Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG).  This is an organization comprised of sixteen counties and municipalities that provides a forum for local governments to discuss cross-boundary issues, identify shared opportunities and challenges, and develop collaborative strategies for action.

They include areas of transportation, aging, the environment, and military issues.  I’ve connected with elected officials in El Paso county and Colorado Springs, as well as members of CDOT.  My goal is to become as knowledgeable as possible on the key issues with a special focus on transportation.

I’ve learned that a reliever route is on PPACG's long-term strategic plan, which dates to 2045.  A PEL (Planning and Environment Linkage) study is scheduled, which will focus planning efforts and begin to define on this important project.

In addition, PPACG is planning a three-county plan to develop a comprehensive transportation study (Teller, El Paso, Park), a MMOF—Multimodal Opportunity Fund, funded by the state at $6M, and the reliever route would be incorporated into this effort.

Because this is a core focus, in December 2019 I met with Woodland Park City Manager, Darrin Tangeman and Planning Director, Sally Riley.  It was an instructive and constructive discussion that dovetailed well with my engagement at PPACG. 

Mr. Tangeman is on PPACG's Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), and Ms. Riley is his alternate.  This committee is charged with developing the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), and the reliever route is part of that effort.

My goal is to be fully engaged in this work which is why I have begun the process of becoming conversant and knowledgeable very early in the process.  If elected, I will be well positioned to step into the role currently filled by Commissioner Norm Steen.

Wildfire Management and Mitigation

Because wildfire is a constant threat to our county, this is another key issue I’ve been focusing on.  In January 2019 I began attending meetings of the Teller County Wildfire Committee, which is facilitated by Commissioner Marc Detternieder.

The committee is comprised of leaders from the US Forest Service, the Colorado Forest Service, Colorado Springs Utilities, CUSP (Coalition of the Upper-South Platte), and members of municipal and county emergency services and fire districts.

The goal is to coordinate these resources to prioritize vulnerable areas within the county, develop strategic plans to mitigate wildfire risks, and provide targeted education to our citizens. 

Our December 2019 meeting included Johnathan Bruno, a leader with the Community Mitigation Assistance Team (CMAT).  Funded by the US Forest Service, CMAT is a national interagency resource designed to help communities build sustainable local capacity for community wildfire mitigation with high-risk areas, before, during, and after wildfires.

I have been and will continue to be an active participant in these important meetings

Budget and Financial Management

One of the central functions of a County Commissioner is the management of the budget.  Having held management positions in proprietary companies, including United HealthCare, UCHealth, Mountain View Medical Group, as well as physician practices, I have decades of experience in financial management.  This includes expertise in financial analysis and projections, Balance Sheet, P & L, General Ledger, and AP. 

During my seven years on Woodland Park City Council, I was responsible for budget development and planning, and oversight.  I worked hard to ensure the city’s finances were responsibly handled, with a strong focus on eliminating inefficiencies, with the overarching vision of limited government.

I would apply this experience and expertise to the county’s budget, working collaboratively with fellow Commissioners, the County Administrator, department directors, and staff, to ensure we achieve a responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

Working with Colorado Counties, Inc.

CCI is the counties’ lobbying entity, and I would be an active member, pressing the goals of limited government, and pushing back against the encroachments of legislation that is deemed adverse to our county.

Developing constructive relationships with Commissioners from other counties is the key to leveraging strength in this vital area.  I have worked collaboratively with fellow leaders in business and on city council, and I would use those skills to build trust and work in concert with like-minded Commissioners on shared goals.

Conclusion

I will be revisiting these areas of focus, revising them as appropriate as my campaign evolves.  If you have questions or suggestions concerning these issues, I would be pleased to hear from you.  You can contact me by clicking on the button on the main page.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Philip Mella
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