Fort Collins is a dynamic and flourishing community renowned for its parks and quality of life. As an engaged community member, I recognize the importance of citizen participation in local governance. This inspired me to create the podcast “Dear Fort Collins,” which offered a space for City Council candidates to express their vision and connect with their neighbors. In this series, I focus on candidates in the November 2023 elections, allowing them to convey their enthusiasm for Fort Collins and their reasons for pursuing office.
This episode features Shirley Peel, the current representative for District Four, who has served for two and a half years and is in the running for re-election.
Passion for Fort Collins and Motivation for Running
Shirley’s passion for Fort Collins stems from her experience raising her four children in the city. She recognizes the incredible opportunities and support the community has provided for her family. In a heartfelt moment during a Parks and Rec meeting, she realized the extent to which the city’s programs and staff had helped her in raising her children. This realization fueled her desire to give back to the community that had given her so much.
“I wanted to give back to the community. And when all four of your children grow up and leave home, you have to find something else to do. And so I thought this was just a way I could give back to this community.”
Tackling District-Specific Issues
As the representative for District Four, Shirley has identified several specific issues that she aims to tackle if re-elected. One of her primary focuses is addressing the aftermath of the South College and south Fort Collins annexation, which left several problems unattended.
She is working towards undergrounding the electric lines in her district, particularly in light of the recent Marshall Fire, which highlighted the vulnerability of above-ground lines in natural areas.
“I’m working on that because this has become especially important in wake of the Marshall Fire, because my district has quite a bit of natural areas and quite a few of our electric lines are still above ground.”
Shirley is also working to bring certain roads in her district up to the city’s maintenance and upkeep standards. Additionally, she is passionate about helping businesses in the South College area create a distinct identity, similar to the established business districts in other parts of Fort Collins.
“I really want to help the businesses on that end of town create a South College identity, just like they did in Old Town, in Midtown, and even in North Fort Collins.”
Bridge Building and Peacemaking
Shirley Peel believes her balanced approach and consistent effort to engage with her constituents through various interactions make her an effective representative. She has made a concerted effort to connect with her constituents through listening sessions, neighborhood walks, and personal interactions. This has allowed her to gain a deep understanding of the unique needs of District Four and work towards finding solutions.
“I’ve been able to dig into those issues and start coming up with solutions. And also, I think just with my personality, I tell people when you’re a middle child, you learn how to be a bridge builder, a peacemaker, a moderator.”
Role Models in Public Service
When asked about her role models in public service, Shirley recalls her stepfather, Ellsworth Greer. He was a community activist who dedicated his life to making a difference in small towns. His passion for volunteer fire departments and his ability to initiate change inspired Shirley to follow in his footsteps.
“One thing that he became very passionate about was volunteer fire departments. And so he created [one] because little towns don’t usually have a big budget for fire departments. So not only did he create a volunteer fire department in the little town he lived in, he went to surrounding towns. He helped them organize theirs.”
The Superpower of Healing
If Shirley could have any superpower to help her community, she would choose healing. She is deeply concerned about political divisions and believes healing is essential for progress. Shirley believes that by fostering respect, listening, and compromise, communities can overcome their differences and work towards a brighter future.
“I am so concerned about the divide at the national level, at the state level, and then even the divide that I see here in our community. Honestly, if we can’t figure out how to respect each other, listen to each other, and compromise with each other, I’m afraid we’re not going to make it. So my superpower would be healing.”
Advice Received and Lessons Learned
Shirley shares a valuable piece of advice she received from Mayor Jeni Arndt, which has helped her immensely in her role as a council member. Jeni advised Shirley to remember that “All decisions can be undone.”
This advice alleviated Shirley’s anxiety about making the right decisions and empowered her to take action, knowing that adjustments can always be made if needed. “If we see [decisions are] not working, then we can revisit it and tweak it or undo it. So that was such a relief to me because, like I said, I’m not an expert in a lot of things.”
Conclusion: Taking Action, Making a Difference
As Shirley seeks re-election, she hopes to continue working towards solutions for affordable housing, transit, and homelessness. She is focused on addressing the specific needs of her district, such as undergrounding electric lines, improving roads, and fostering a distinct identity for businesses in the South College area. She aspires to continue finding solutions for prevalent concerns such as affordable housing, transit, and homelessness, while also focusing on district-specific needs.
Learn more about Shirley Peel at: VoteShirleyPeel.com
Note: This article is based on a podcast interview with Shirley Peel, a candidate for District Four City Council in Fort Collins. All quotes are verbatim from the transcript of the podcast episode.
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.