Story and photo by Rick Emert
The Fort Carson community welcomed its 16 housing mayors during an inauguration ceremony Sept. 24 at Elkhorn Conference Center.
Garrison Commander Col. Robert F. McLaughlin spoke of the garrison’s mission statement during remarks at the ceremony. Among other things, the mission statement promises that the garrison staff will work to limit stress on Soldiers and Families, he said.
“What a bunch of dedicated, committed volunteers that have stepped up to the plate to do things for Soldiers and Families,” he said. “You all volunteered to step up and mitigate stress on those Soldiers and Families.”
The housing village mayors act as liaisons between their residents and the garrison command, said Joey Bautista, Mayoral Program coordinator.
“Being mayor is not an easy job,” he said. “Mayors truly are the eyes and ears of the community.”
Cindy McLaughlin, a Mayoral Program adviser and wife of the garrison commander, said the mayors keep the lines of communication open between the communities and the garrison.
“I view the opportunity of their jobs is to bring issues from their community to the attention of the garrison entity, so they can improve any issues – to include the housing management – and then also to bring back information to the community that would be valuable for them to know, such as what’s going on here on post in their communities, improvements and changes that are coming down the pike and helping the different organizations to set priorities based on the needs of those communities,” she said.
The incoming mayor of Ute Hill, Lisa Chestnut, said the mayors have other roles nearly as important as acting as liaison.
“I think that being mayor is being the person that sets the tone for my neighborhood,” Chestnut said in remarks at the inauguration ceremony. “I want to create a friendly and supportive environment that residents feel safe and feel at home in. In the Army, you may not get to pick where you live, but you can choose how you live. I feel that by supporting the residents of my neighborhood, I am directly impacting their quality of life and, therefore, influencing their personal happiness and satisfaction of being in the Army. It’s my way of supporting my husband … and giving back to the community that supports me and my Family.”
A week before the mayors and deputy mayors recited the oath of office, they attended a day of training Sept. 16 at Army Community Service. The training included briefings from post directorates and organizations about the services they provide to those living in post housing.
The mayors have two meetings a month throughout their one-year terms, Cindy said.
“They have the minimayor’s meeting in the early part of the month where all of the mayors get together,” she said. “They formulate an agenda for the second meeting, which is toward the end of the month, where all of the major groups that support the housing areas come together. We discuss all the issues, and they share with us all of the programs they have, and they answer any questions that might have come up during that first meeting.”
Cindy said the Fort Carson Mayoral Program is one of the most successful programs she has seen.
“This program … is very robust. ACS manages this on behalf of the garrison. I’ve never seen it managed this way at other posts,” she said. “I’ve never seen such a concerted effort to bring a voice from those communities to the attention of the garrison where there’s that true partnership.”