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Wednesday July 17th 2019

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That's what she said

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Tim Plass, Last four years serving on council have been his highlight in Boulder


Boulder City Councilman Tim Plass is pictured with his black Lab Molly at Dog Dayz, an end-of-season event at Scott Carpenter Pool (photo courtesy Tim Plass)

Tim Plass is an enthusiastic backyard gardener.

The Boulder City Councilman grows a bounty of heirloom tomatoes and Japanese eggplant in the back yard of his Mapleton Hill neighborhood. His garden’s scarlet runner beans, which have edible red and orange flowers, attract hummingbirds and he likes to give the plant’s seeds away as gifts throughout the holiday season.

Plass, 52, also enjoys cooking, especially Moroccan and Thai dishes. And, one of his favorite spots in Boulder is the Chautauqua Dining Hall, which, he says, is reminiscent of a New England camp atmosphere.

Plass’ passion for gardening and food has translated, in a political sense, to his advocacy for local food and sustainable agriculture. Promoting local food is good for the Boulder economy, he says, and reduces the carbon footprint of the city’s food supply. Local, nutritious fresh food also has the potential to connect citizens.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to step up our game,” says Plass.

Plass, who is seeking re-election this year, championed a newly enacted “cottage foods” ordinance that allows home gardeners and beekeepers to sell products like fresh produce, honey and eggs from their homes.

He is also a founding member of Making Local Food Work, which brings together the city, school district, county government, University of Colorado, farmer’s markets and other groups to boost the production and consumption of local food.

Plass has lived in Boulder for 30 years, and he says the last four, in which he has served on the council, have been the greatest because of the opportunity to serve and be involved with cutting-edge legislation, such as utility municipalization.

Plass’ first introduction to the city was during a detour he took returning from a ski trip. At the time, he was a senior studying at Harvard University and had come to Colorado in late-March to ski at Vail. He had some extra time before his flight and visited Boulder before heading to the airport.

“I was blown away by Boulder Canyon,” he says. “When I got into the city, it was so green and I was impressed by Pearl Street. I said to myself ‘I gotta get back here some time.’”

After graduating from Harvard, where he had worked as a photographer on The Harvard Crimson newspaper, he started working as a photojournalist for a small newspaper in Golden, Colorado. On the side, he was selling ski posters. He then attended law school at the University of Denver and, for a short while, practiced environmental law.

Prior to being elected to the City Council in 2011, he served on the Boulder Planning Board and the Landmarks Board. His interest in city politics was piqued by his involvement as a neighborhood activist.

Plass says that he goes into council meetings, oftentimes, not knowing how he is going to vote on an issue and waits to hear the public testimony.

Brian Coppom, executive director of Boulder County Farmers’ Market, says Plass is a great leader because he ensures that everybody involved in a discussion or decision-making process is engaged.

“I have certainly found Tim to be open to other viewpoints and he’s a good listener who cares about what somebody has to say,” says Coppom, who has worked with Plass through Making Local Food Work. “I’ve always found him to very fair and measured.”

Plass, in his free time, enjoys spending time with his black lab, Molly, catch-and-release fly fishing in South Boulder Creek and strolling around in Boulder’s alleys, snapping photographs.

“I’m a big alley fan,” he says. “It’s a very rich experience to see what’s in alleys—everything is so prim and proper in the front and the alleys tell their own stories.”

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