What It's Like To Be A Climber On City Council

"I am not a person who will sit by the sidelines for long," says Dawn Glanc. You may have seen her win at the Ouray Ice Festival competition. Or, out guiding in the mountains. Or putting up a first ascent. But when she talks about sidelines, she's talking about politics, not climbing. 

"I don't like conflict, but I am willing to stand for what I believe is right," she says. That's why she went to the effort of running for local office—and now sits on the Ouray City Council. And she's got some advice for the rest of us outdoors people: "If you find that you have a feeling of helplessness, then participate in the world around you. Showing up is the first step." 

We hit up Dawn for some inspiration and advice for those of us looking to make positive change in our communities. Here's what she said.

When you were young, did you ever picture yourself a politician?

I thought about being president when I was young. Now I envision myself as a senator or congress person. 

Do you think most people kind of overlook the idea of getting involved in politics at a local level?

Yes. The biggest impact you can have is at a local level. I don't know what stops people from stepping up. I know you cannot complain or make change if you are not part of the process. 

How much time per week do you think the job of city councilor in in Ouray takes from you?

City council in Ouray is a low time-commitment position. I attend two council meetings a month that last one to two hours. We also have one or two work sessions a month which are also one to two hours long. This does not include the extra hours of talking with citizens. It's all time well spent when you see the positive impacts you can have on the community. 

Did you have any fears or concerns about it when you were running?

Ouray is a small town. I knew that I would not be able to see eye to eye with everyone. I have to hope that people can be opened minded and agree to disagree. The last thing I want is an enemy because I have a particular belief. 

What's the hardest part of the job so far?

The hardest part of council has been finding time in my schedule to attend meetings and work sessions. As a traveling guide, I still find this to be the hardest part of the job. 

Are there any changes you've been able to make as a city councilor that you're particularly proud of? Or, anything you're working on currently?

I helped Ouray become the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado. Now every day the city will work to improve the existing resources and add new facilities that will boost the outdoor rec economy in our area. I'm helping the city figure out the Ice Park management transition that will occur in Oct 2017, and I'm also working with Eco Action partners to help homes and businesses become more energy efficient. 

What's the most difficult thing about being on city council?

I don't find the position to be difficult. I enjoy the high-level problem solving that we have to complete. I also enjoy working with others to accomplish large-scale goals. 

What's your advice to other people who might be considering running for something like city council?

If you are passionate about your town and/or the local school system, get involved. Don't wait for an invitation, take the initiative and make the change you want to see.