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Palisade Trustee Candidate Sarah Matchett Shares Thoughts, Views, Opinions Before Electoral Contest

Sarah Matchett

The Palisade Post sent questionnaires to all the candidates running for office in the upcoming municipal election. Sarah has responded to our questions, and we are happy to publish them here, before the upcoming “Meet the Candidates” Forum hosted by the Palisade Chamber of Commerce on February 28.

We will publish all candidate responses as they are received, before February 28, 2024.

The Palisade Post would love to see everyone in Palisade be well informed about their local candidate choices, and we encourage everyone to vote on April 2, 2024.

The Palisade Post: How long have you lived in Palisade? Tell us how you came to live here. Can you give us some insight about yourself as a person, your interests, hobbies, family/friends?

Sarah Matchett: Palisade has been our home since 2020 and I’m also a Grand Valley native. I enjoy being outdoors, hiking, skiing, cycling, and playing pickleball. You can find me almost every morning walking my dogs, Pick and Pan at Riverbend Park.

The Palisade Post: Can you tell us about occupations you’ve had?

Sarah Matchett: I have primarily worked in education and athletics. For the last 20 years I have worked as a professional cycling coach. During the 15 years preceding our move I owned a cycling studio in Davidson, North Carolina. In Palisade, I continue to coach private clients across the U.S. online.

The Palisade Post: What are some things you think Palisade does well? Why do you like living here?

Sarah Matchett: The town has done a good job identifying and working to update aging and neglected infrastructure to ensure the safety and quality of life for our community. Most notable improvements include the new health clinic, the refurbishment of the Palisade gym, and the sidewalk improvements along Highway 6. I am also really enjoying my new recycling bin and my fast fiber internet. I also appreciate the smiles and waves I get from the parks and recreation staff when I walk my dogs in the morning, or when I pop into town hall to pay my utility bill.

The Palisade Post: Why are you running for a position on the Town Board?

Sarah Matchett: I believe that good neighbors know each other’s names, help each other when they need it, and collaboratively work towards common ground. I am running so I can know my neighbors better, build new relationships, and serve my community in a meaningful way.

Professional coaching requires strong communication skills to effectively convey instructions, motivate athletes, and resolve conflicts. These skills will help me in engaging with residents, collaborating with other trustees, and conveying complex ideas to the community. I have also spent years analyzing data to help athletes set realistic goals and develop long term plans for achieving them. I have earned the trust and contributed to the success of countless athletes. I will work hard to do the same for our community.

The Palisade Post: What do you think are the big issues or challenges Palisade is presently facing?

Sarah Matchett: Some of our most notable challenges include maintaining and improving our current infrastructure, and managing the impacts of tourism growth on our community. We also need to continue to work on the town’s ability to communicate effectively with our residents. I’ve been surprised to find that so many of my neighbors were unaware of our current sewer issues until they saw the proposed rate increase. We need to continue to improve the effectiveness and reach of our municipal communications in order to further build and maintain trust with the public.

The Palisade Post: What things do you think would promote economic development in Palisade?

Sarah Matchett: Continued investment in our infrastructure will improve the quality of life for our current residents, help our businesses grow and thrive, and make us more attractive to new business and visitors to the town. There is also potential in creating more unique family friendly recreation areas in town. If we can offer our Grand Valley neighbors some opportunities to spend a day outside with their kids we can draw more locals to our town. There is going to be an opportunity in the future to do something with our current sewage lagoons and this may be an area where we can create a destination park for families with younger children.

The Palisade Post: What intrigues you about Palisade’s history? How does it apply to Palisade’s future?

Sarah Matchett: As the granddaughter of a Grand Junction cattle rancher, I am intrigued by the town’s agricultural heritage and its role in the development of the Western Slope of Colorado. These farming roots contribute to our unique identity and play a vital role in our economy as well as the economy of the larger valley.

Looking to the future, Palisade can continue to draw on this agricultural history to influence our development and growth. Preserving and celebrating our agricultural roots will differentiate us from other communities in the valley, and attract visitors and residents alike.

The Palisade Post: What do you see (or would you like to see) in Palisade’s future? What would you do to guide/direct it?

Sarah Matchett: I would like to see a balanced approach to growth and development that preserves the town’s character, supports economic prosperity, and enhances the quality of life for residents. First and foremost we must improve the condition of our utilities. Once this has been achieved, I would love to see continued investment in our parks and community spaces as I believe that this will foster a sense of community pride, attract visitors, help drive economic growth.

The Palisade Post: Some would suggest there is a housing shortage or lack of affordable housing in and around Palisade? What are your thoughts about housing?

Sarah Matchett: Housing in Palisade is always going to be limited as we are only 1.2 square miles in size and increasing housing density will dramatically alter the character of the town. We already have a fairly robust number of affordable units in town and it is not the job of our government to produce more. I would, however, be open to exploring policies that help ensure our current housing stock is owned and occupied by residents of the town and not by real estate investors using our town to expand their portfolios.

As we work to update Palisade’s Land Use Code in the next year there may be opportunities to
incentivize a diversity of housing options. Before codifying any policy changes, it is essential that we have community participation in this process as our first priority is to our current residents.

The Palisade Post: A prominent Palisade resident once said, “In the west, when you touch water, you touch everything.” What are your thoughts on both municipal and irrigation water in and around Palisade?

Sarah Matchett: Palisade made some great choices in the past by securing municipal water rights independent of the Colorado River. However, due to lack of funding, our water infrastructure has been sorely neglected and I would make the conservation of our springs and the development of a long term maintenance plan a priority. We also need to review our rate structure to ensure we can provide a safe and reliable water supply for our residents for years to come.

The Palisade Post: Can you share your thoughts about the ongoing costs and challenges of maintaining municipal infrastructure?

Sarah Matchett: One of the main challenges of maintaining municipal infrastructure is funding. Infrastructure maintenance requires ongoing investment, but like all small towns we face budget constraints and competing priorities. Another challenge we face is the aging of our infrastructure. Much of it is reaching the end of its useful life and requires significant repairs or replacement. Addressing these challenges involves developing long-term infrastructure plans, prioritizing maintenance and repairs, along with exploring available grant opportunities and innovative funding options, such as public-private partnerships.

The Palisade Post: What are the options for increasing the amount of revenue available for the town budget? What do you think are the best ways to grow town revenue?

Sarah Matchett: The most effective approach involves prioritizing the budgeted needs of the town and clearly identifying the available sources of revenue to meet them. A combination of strategies that includes a focus on economic development, tourism promotion, increasing fees for municipal services, and continuing to identify grants that provide funding opportunities is probably going to be most effective. We also must consider the impact of any revenue-generating measures on residents and businesses, and ensure that they are clearly communicated in advance and are incremental so as not to place an undue burden on our residents.