Welcome to another episode of Dear Fort Collins, where we dive deep into the issues that matter to our community. Being informed and engaged in the electoral process is essential for good outcomes. By familiarizing ourselves with the candidates’ perspectives, we can make informed decisions that resonate with our understanding of the community’s needs. Engaging in the democratic process helps ensure the community’s diverse perspectives are considered.
In this episode, we speak with Jeni Arndt, the current Mayor of Fort Collins and a candidate for re-election. Jeni brings a wealth of experience and a passion for serving her community. In this interview, we’ll explore her background, her motivations for running for office, and the key issues she hopes to tackle if re-elected.
Passion for Fort Collins
Jeni’s love for Fort Collins stems from her upbringing in an entrepreneurial and open-minded family. She believes that Fort Collins offers a unique opportunity for individuals to be themselves and pursue their dreams. She shares a story about a chance encounter with a server at the Silver Grill who also happened to be an organic pet food maker. This interaction exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that thrives in Fort Collins. Jeni is passionate about preserving this environment and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
“I’m passionate about Fort Collins because it offers people that opportunity. I am convinced it’s a place where you can be what you want to be. I’m passionate about keeping it that way, helping people be included to have that freedom of thought and expression and support.”
Motivation to Run for Office
When asked about her motivation to run for office, Jeni reflects on the encouragement she received from her former mentors and community members who recognized her dedication to public service. Initially hesitant, she realized that running for office was a natural extension of the work she had done her entire life. Jeni’s experience serving on school boards, working in the Peace Corps, and advocating for her community prepared her for the role of a public servant. She sees running for office as an opportunity to ask the community if they would like her to serve in that capacity.
“I had to make the leap in my mind that running for office was exactly the extension of things I’d been doing my whole life, from serving my community to Peace Corps. These sorts of things are just an extension of that. And then I realized that an election is just the opportunity to ask the community if they would like you to serve in that role. That’s all it is.”
Tackling Housing Affordability
One of the key issues that Jeni is passionate about is housing affordability. She highlights the impact of the lack of affordable housing on young families in Fort Collins: schools are closing and consolidating because families cannot live in the city affordably with their young children. This leads to unequal enrollments and raises concerns about the community’s long-term health. Jeni recognizes the urgency of addressing this issue and is committed to finding solutions that ensure everyone can afford to live and thrive in Fort Collins.
“We just heard yesterday schools are closing. They’re consolidating here but they’re growing in Timnath, in Wellington, because young families aren’t able to afford to live here with their young children. They’re having to choose neighboring communities within our school district. So now we’re having unequal enrollments and that is a very worrying thing to me in terms of a healthy community.”
Qualifications for Office
When asked about her qualifications for office, Jeni humbly acknowledges that it is ultimately up to the voters to decide. However, she believes that her hard work and dedication set her apart. She is known for her ability to dig deep into complex issues and approach them with detail and nuance. While some politicians tend toward flashy press conferences, Jeni prefers to immerse herself in the intricacies of policy and governance. Her commitment to thorough research and understanding allows her to make informed decisions that benefit the community.
“I strive to dig down into an issue because the headline is not what it is. And I look really deeply into elections, good governance, and then the nitty-gritty of the policy. Deep dives into rather complicated, sometimes boring nonfiction documents; I would say I’m pretty good at that.”
Role Models in Public Service
Jeni draws inspiration from Nelson Mandela, particularly his ability to unite a divided country after the end of apartheid in South Africa. She admires his commitment to finding common ground and his emphasis on trust and goodwill. Mandela’s example serves as a reminder of the power of unity and the importance of building trust within a community.
“He chose to unite the country and not divide it. And that is kind of a miracle – he of anyone in the world had a reason to be angry, bitter, divisive, and start a civil war.”
Superpower for the Community
If Jeni could have any superpower to help her community, she would choose to restore trust and faith in one another. She believes that trust is essential for fostering collaboration and reducing bureaucracy. By restoring trust, she envisions a community where people can work together towards common goals, knowing they have each other’s best interests at heart.
“If we could just trust each other more, I think that things would we’d have less bureaucracy.”
Advice Not Taken
Jeni shares a personal anecdote about advice she received but didn’t take. She was offered an entry-level position in an office she liked but chose to pursue a higher-level position elsewhere. In hindsight, she realizes that it’s not about the status of the job but rather the people you work with. She advises her own children and others to prioritize the people they work with and find fulfillment in their relationships, regardless of the job title.
“Don’t worry about the status of the job. It’s always about the people.”
Connecting with the Community
Jeni emphasizes her accessibility and openness to the community. She provides her personal cell phone number and encourages people to contact her with any questions or concerns. She believes in the power of dialogue and is always willing to engage with constituents, even if they disagree with her. Jeni understands that building trust and understanding requires active communication and a willingness to listen.
“Call me. If you think you disagree with me, call me twice.”
Conclusion: A Passion For Fort Collins
Jeni Arndt has a history of involvement and public service in Fort Collins, focusing on topics such as housing affordability, the complexities of water rights, and the importance of inclusivity during her tenure. She has addressed complex issues and has emphasized collaboration throughout her service.
To learn more about Jeni Arndt’s campaign, visit her website at Jeni4Mayor.com.
Note: This article is based on a podcast interview with Jeni Arndt, a candidate for Mayor 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.