Welcome to Dear Fort Collins, the podcast that aims to inform and engage the residents of Fort Collins in how the city functions. This series of the podcast provides a platform for City Council candidates to share their views and aspirations and this episode, we get to hear from Julie Pignataro, the current city council representative for District Two, who is running for re-election. Julie’s passion for Fort Collins and her desire to bring positive change to local government have been the driving forces behind her decision to run for office. Let’s dive deeper into her motivations, goals, and the impact she hopes to make.
A Desire for Change
Julie’s political journey was sparked by a dissatisfaction with the state of local government. She witnessed mudslinging and vote trading, which she believed had no place in the community she called home. Inspired by the need for normalcy and integrity in politics, Julie decided to step up. She shares her initial motivations for running:
“I saw a lot in the early 2000’s that I did not like in Council. Some mudslinging, a lot of vote trading. Weird stuff that you expect at the national level, [but] we don’t want at our local level. Like many people, I was like, we need some normal people to get into office.”
Making a Difference with Ethics
During her first term as a city council representative, Julie highlights two key accomplishments: the passing of a code of conduct and the revision of ethics rules. These changes aim to create a more fair and transparent system.
“We changed the ethics rules so that if someone has an ethics complaint against a council member, instead of their other council members being the judge of that, it actually goes to an outside attorney to look at. We passed a code of conduct so that no longer the biggest bully up there wins, because that’s the way things have been for a while. These are all things that I think our local government needed to change. And I’m really excited to have been a part of it and I want to keep on going.”
Vision Zero: A Safer Future
One of the specific projects Julie is passionate about is Vision Zero, a plan aimed at eliminating deaths on Fort Collins’ roadways. This initiative, inspired by a Swiss model, seeks to make the city’s streets safer for all residents. Julie emphasizes the importance of investing resources and implementing changes, such as separated bike lanes, to address the recent tragedies on Fort Collins’ roads:
“We’ve had quite a few tragedies in the last few years here in Fort Collins, I think now is more important than ever and we need to put some resources, some money and start working this plan. On some of our more busy roadways, [this] would [mean] separated bike lanes. We’ve got bike lanes there. A lot of people don’t use them because it is still very scary.”
A Comprehensive Perspective
Having lived in the city for nearly 30 years, Julie has experienced many aspects of its community and held different roles, including renter, homeowner, working professional, and parent. Julie believes her diverse experience gives her a unique understanding of the needs and concerns of the district’s residents:
“I’ve seen all different parts of the city, and I’ve also had quite a few jobs around here. As a working mom, I bring a different perspective of working for our families to make sure that this is a great place to live for all of us.”
When asked about role models in public service, Julie mentions Joe Neguse, a federal representative who consistently shows dedication and accessibility to his constituents. However, it is Kristin Stephens, a former council member, who has had the most significant impact on Julie. Kristin’s mentorship and advocacy for aspiring politicians have been invaluable to Julie’s journey:
“When I joined council, this was the first time it was a female majority. Having someone there who’d been the only female on council for a while, it was really great to hear her perspectives, and she was a good mentor in that way, as well as helping figure out the ropes.”
The Power of Time Travel
In a lighthearted moment, Julie reveals that if she could have any superpower to help her community, it would be time travel. She envisions using this power to revisit past policies and make adjustments to mitigate unintended consequences. Additionally, she sees the value in traveling to the future to ensure that current policies are thoroughly researched and aligned with the city’s long-term goals:
“It would be awesome to be able to go back in time and look at some of the policies that have been put in place and see if there was a way to tweak them so that they [had fewer] unintended repercussions. It could be great to go to the future and make sure the policies we’re putting in place now, that were very thoroughly researched, [but] there always can be something you don’t see.”
Advice Worth Considering
Reflecting on her campaign experience, Julie shares advice she received but wishes she had taken more seriously.
“From my first run, and this was from another woman I know in Denver who ran for office. She said campaigning is like being pregnant in that everyone has advice for you. At the end of the day, you need to take only the advice that works for you. Ultimately, you just have to be able to make sure that you’re doing the right thing, treating everyone kindly, and that you can sleep at night.”
Conclusion: A Lasting Impact
As Julie nears the end of her first term, she hopes to secure re-election to continue serving District Two.
“It has been such an honor to serve this district… I’ve just gotten to love this city even deeper.”
To learn more about Julie: https://www.julieforfc.com/
This article is based on a transcript from the Dear Fort Collins podcast, featuring an interview with Julie Pignataro, a candidate for re-election in District Two of the Fort Collins City Council.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or organization. All quotes are verbatim from the original transcript.