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Saturday December 14th 2019

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That's what she said

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Suzanne Jones, social activism, appreciation for outdoors have shaped City Council member


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Council member Suzanne Jones is pictured in James Peak Wilderness. As the previous Colorado Regional Director of The Wilderness Society, Jones has helped pass several conservation bills through Congress, including bills to establish the James Peak Wilderness. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Jones)

Council member Suzanne Jones is pictured in James Peak Wilderness. As the previous Colorado Regional Director of The Wilderness Society, Jones has helped pass several conservation bills through Congress, including bills to establish the James Peak Wilderness. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Jones)

Boulder City Council candidate Suzanne Jones views public service as a relay race.

“I’ll take the baton and run a lap or two and hand it off to the next person,” says Jones, 51, the executive director of Eco-Cycle who is running for a second term on Boulder City Council. “It’s an honor to be a part of that tradition.”

The sports metaphor is a fitting one for Jones, who played more than 20 years of competitive ultimate Frisbee on nationally ranked teams. The lifelong athlete and avid outdoorswoman was 30 years older than anyone on her most recent team, Jack Wagon. She’s also a runner, mountain biker, skier and backpacker.

Jones has a background in environmental science and policy, earning her master’s degree at the University of Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University. She was initially motivated to run for City Council because she believes that climate change needs to be addressed at the local level, with cities taking a lead.

Jones’ appreciation for the outdoors and commitment to the environment can be linked back to her childhood. She grew up in inner city Kansas City, Missouri. Her parents would pack up a VW bus and take Jones and her sisters to Colorado each summer.

“I grew up with the mix of an urban setting and the wilderness and both formed who I am,” Jones says.

Her parents, who were educators, were involved in social justice issues, including the civil rights movement. Her mother was also involved in the women’s liberation movement and was raising five, strong-willed daughters. (Jones has a twin sister, County Commissioner Elise Jones, who is 15 minutes older than Suzanne.)

Learning to appreciate the outdoors, coupled with her family’s activism, has largely shaped who Jones is today.

“Those are the two bookends that inform a lot of my positions,” she says.

In January 2014, Jones was hired to be executive director of Eco-Cycle, a community non-profit that originated four decades ago and promotes recycling, composting and zero-waste efforts across Boulder County.

Previously, she was the Colorado Regional Director for The Wilderness Society, where she helped pass several conservation bills through Congress. Among the bills were those to establish the James Peak Wilderness, which is near Nederland, and safeguard the majority of Rocky Mountain National Park. She was also a part of a coalition that passed Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard that requires investor-owned utilities draw 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Jones, earlier in her career, worked for the National Wildlife Federation as an endangered species legislative representative and as a congressional staff member for the Fisheries & Wildlife Subcommittee with the U.S. House of Representatives.

Jones says that she is seeking a second term because the council is in the midst of some important work that she’d like to see through.

Those issues, she says, include municipalization, setting a pace for post-recession growth and development and growing Boulder’s affordable housing stock.

Former Boulder Mayor Susan Osborne is among those endorsing Jones and says she appreciates the candidate’s even temperament, consistency and ability to come up with collaborative solutions.

“She has this quiet and intense way of listening to people,” Osborne says.

Osborne also describes Jones as an athlete who is youthful and committed to the environment, which, she says, are important traits in a city like Boulder that values the outdoors.

Jones, who lives near 6th street and College Avenue, enjoys Boulder’s unique landmarks. She likes to run up to Panorama Point on Flagstaff Road, dunk herself in Boulder Creek on a hot summer day, read over council packets at Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Pearl Street and visit the Boulder Farmer’s Market on the weekends. The market, she says, “represents the heart of Boulder and what we’re all about.”

Jones also enjoys listening to all types of live music, but especially bluegrass. She recently began taking up banjo lessons herself.

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