By Catherine Ross
Special to the Mountaineer
Mayors and deputy mayors for Fort Carson’s 17 neighborhoods were sworn in during the annual Mayoral Inauguration and Luncheon at the Elkhorn Conference Center, Sept. 27.
“We’re here to honor mayors, patriots. People who have volunteered their time, their service, their energy,” said Garrison Commander Col. David Grosso, the inauguration’s guest speaker. “Thank you for what you do in terms of assimilating our most precious natural resource, our Soldiers and their Families, into this community and finding them a home.
“You’re the first line of defense for our community, for our command, here to field … significant issues of Families who have been at war for the last 10 years,” Grosso said.
The 37 incoming mayors and deputies were elected by residents in early September, and attended a daylong orientation Sept. 7. The roles are unpaid, volunteer positions through Army Community Service. The mayors serve as liaisons between residents, garrison command and Balfour Beatty Communities, said ACS Director Pat Randle.
“One of your key (responsibilities) is making Families work together to get through disputes, because you’re going to have disputes, you’re going to have friction,” Grosso said. “You’re going to have neighbors who don’t like the other person’s music. … That happens out in the civilian community, but you know what most civilian communities don’t have? They only have one mayor, and he or she is sitting in city hall. I have all of you out here …. and now that I’ve got you, I’ve realized that you’re my force multipliers.
“I appreciate what you do to encourage cooperation, to achieve community goals, and to get along,” Grosso said. “That takes a lot of patience and a lot of facilitation.”
He highlighted the success of Fort Carson’s mayoral program. More than 8,000 volunteer service hours were logged by Fort Carson’s program last year, he said, adding that this was “more than any other mayoral program.”
The inauguration also honored 33 outgoing mayors and deputy mayors.
“You have a hard, yet rewarding job ahead of you,” said outgoing Ute Hill Village Mayor Erin Shoenfeldt. “It has been a very rewarding experience for me. I learned about the community and the post.
“In my two years as mayor,” Shoenfeldt said, “I encountered a few challenges.” She advised new mayors to be supportive of Balfour Beatty, and to look to Mayoral Manager Joey Bautista, as their top resource.
Schoenfeldt’s final piece of advice for new mayors: “Be understanding of your residents. You may not be able to solve all their problems, but sometimes just having an open ear is all they need.”
Incoming Cheyenne Village Mayor Ameren Huey provided reflections on her Family’s move from Camp Humphries, South Korea, and how she was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to move into housing at Fort Carson.
“I wanted to continue to make this the ‘Best Hometown of the Army,’” Huey said, explaining why she became part of the mayor program.
“It’s an amazing experience,” said Kathleen Fry, mayor of Apache Village, serving a second year as mayor because she “loved it the first time.”
Fry, who has 158 homes in her village, said mayors attend monthly meetings, keep their residents informed via newsletters, emails and Facebook posts, and coordinate a social ball during the holiday season. She said one of the mayors’ responsibilities is nominating yards in their village every month for the “Yard of the Month” award, which provides incentives to winners such as Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift cards; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation “cash;” a yard sign; and a certificate awarded at a monthly ceremony.
After administering the oath of office to new mayors, Grosso, along with Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Steven O. Green and Randle, presented Commander’s Awards for Public Service to mayors who served at least one year and certificates of appreciation to re-elected and re-appointed mayors.
Each incoming mayor and deputy was presented with a yellow rose, which Bautista said is “a symbol of commitment to improving the quality of life in the community.”