Today, The Coloradoan ran a profile on each of the District 4 City Council candidates. After spending the last two months representing southwest Fort Collins on Council, I am sure I am the right woman for the job. I am proud of and humbled by this opportunity and hope to be able to carry on with this important work for years to come. Here is a link to the article:
And for those of you who are not subscribers, here is the text from the section about me:
Melanie Potyondy: 'We're ripe for change'
Melanie Potyondy thinks a lot about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs when she’s deliberating city issues. “If folks’ basic needs aren't met, and they're not psychologically healthy because of factors in our community, then they're not able to fully realize their potential as residents of Fort Collins,” said the Rocky Mountain High School psychologist and District 4 appointee.
"I think a big goal is for us to be very vigilant in connecting people to the right services, the right funding sources to just keep them afloat.”
She said she’s been applying that lens to her work on council for the last two months, always coming back to the question of “what needs aren’t being met?”
In her time on council so far, she’s voted in favor of putting a proposed plastic bag ban on the ballot, voted against appealing judicial decisions related to enforcement of the city’s camping ban and the wording of the Hughes Stadium ballot measure and expressed support for a proposed immigration legal defense fund. She said her guiding principles in those actions and others have been equity, access and environmental stewardship.
Potyondy said she’s been gearing up for a local leadership position for a few years by getting involved with the Poudre Education Association, becoming a member of the Colorado Education Association’s Mental Health Advisory Committee, serving on the city's Women's Commission and working with her elected representatives.
Her two young sons and the high schoolers she works with are a big part of why she decided to run for council.
“I've noticed so many of their struggles when it's time to graduate,” she said of her students. “They're so excited to move into their independent lives, and they’re running into obstacles when it comes to finding an apartment that they can afford, finding a job that's fulfilling and maximizes their skills. So (being on council) really is just an opportunity for me to make substantial changes and good decisions that help ensure that these young people that I care about have a great place to live.”
The clearest unmet need in the community is housing, Potyondy said. She likes that the city has moved toward a “housing first” model and, if she’s elected, said she’ll push for a tactical approach that pursues all angles detailed in the city’s Housing Strategic Plan. Those include increased mixed-use development, more variety in housing types and working more with developers to ensure that new development includes affordably priced units.
“We really need to be hitting it really hard with every source of funding that's out there, and every incentive program we have, we need to be taking advantage of, because our housing issue is pressing,” she said. “I'm really interested in being a little more assertive with developers … and I would love to learn more about what options we have to compel developers to build the kinds of commercial and residential communities that we actually need. I'm very opposed to the idea of just ‘build more houses, any kind of houses.’ We need to be strategic.”
In terms of housing and other complex challenges, like the city’s goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and zero waste by 2030, she said she’ll push for more detailed planning conducted with an urgency that meets the moment.
“We're at a real turning point in this community, where I think we're ripe for change,” she said. “I'm seeing a real high level of energy for people wanting to be change agents, nationwide and in Fort Collins, and they're ready to have hard conversations. I think we need to strike while the iron is hot, and say, ‘COVID forced our hand, and it's really laid bare where we're struggling as a community, and let's go for it.’ ”