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As NACo president, Sallie Clark works to 'impact national policy changes'

      
Sallie Clark, as president of the National Association of Counties, speaks at a Congressional hearing on the Waters of the United States initiative by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Courtesy of National Association of Counties
Over halfway through her year as president of the National Association of Counties (NACo), Westside resident and El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark believes she is making a difference on the larger stage.
       “I've been able to help NACo be more effective in its mission,” she said in an e-mail as part of a recent interview. “I've been able to learn from other counties around the country and I've been able to raise the national awareness of El Paso County and all of our region's many unique features and characteristics that are relevant from a national perspective. I hope that through my participation and position, I am working to impact national policy changes that reduce regulations and keep government in check.”
       NACo offers advocacy, information and opportunities to unite on common issues for approximately 3,000 counties nationwide.
       Clark is the first NaCo president from Colorado. She has been active with the organization since her first term as a commissioner started in 2005. There is no remuneration for her work, although NACo does cover applicable travel expenses, Clark noted.
       Running from last July to this July, her top spot with NACo caps Clark's career as District 3 county commissioner. Term-limited, she is now in her 12th and final year on the board. She has been involved with NACo throughout that time, serving as a vice president the previous two years.
       Clark estimated that she spends 10 to 30 hours a week on NACo affairs. Her efforts include conference calls, e-mails, speaking engagements and even testifying at legislative and White House meetings.
       “It is a great honor to serve as NACo president because I understand how much counties matter, how much counties are really the 'boots on
County Commissioner Sallie Clark participated in the ceremonial sledgehammer work to kick off the Express Inn demolition Nov. 24, 2014. Taking down the former hotel was necessary work to start on the new Cimarron/I-25 interchange, a project for which Clark has been a strong advocate for many years.
Westside Pioneer file photo
the ground' when it comes to critical government services,” Clark elaborated in her e-mail. “I was motivated to seek the NACo presidency because I believe that the work NACo is doing in Washington and throughout counties all across the country is extremely important. It also allows me to use my years of experience gained through participation on everything from transportation to criminal justice, public health to preventing child abuse, stormwater management to disaster recovery and other areas, to explain the critical nature of county services and help citizens understand more about the services on which they rely or may need at some time.”
       Her main thrust with NACo this year is her three-pronged Safe and Secure Counties Initiative. “Protecting public safety,” which she describes as her life-long “passion,” is the top prong.
       Others are “Preserving public health and well-being” and “Promoting local economies.” Counties across the United States annually invest $165 billion into these three areas combined. “The inititiative is aimed at helping counties “anticipate and adapt to all types of [related] challenges and changes,” its wording states.
       Because of her leadership in NACo, Clark said, “El Paso County residents have a stronger voice at the national level when it comes to programs and services that impact them every day.”
       She listed the following examples:
       - FEMA flood insurance.
       - Disaster recovery.
       - Opposing “unfunded mandates from Washington,” including Waters of the United States by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and “other onerous regulations that would burden taxpayers.”
       - Staving off threats to tax-exempt status of municipal bonds, “which if, repealed, would make infrastructure costs for Colorado, the county and taxpayers more expensive.”
       - Securing additional federal investments and strengthening local decision-making in transportation through the FAST Act.
       - Seeking answers to “the opioid epidemic plaguing our communities.”
       Asked if she has any political plans after her county commissioner term ends in December, Clark said she has not yet decided. She and her husband Welling - himself active in neighborhood advocacy as president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) - continue to run their Holden House Bed & Breakfast, which they started in 1986.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 2/24/16; Politics: (City/County)

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