Mother, Physician, Advocate For ALL Kids

Election Day is November 2, 2021.

Why I Want Your Vote

            As a doctor, a lifelong advocate for public health, a passionate believer in public-school education, and the mother of three children, I bring a unique skill set to my candidacy for the Aspen School Board.

            On my fortieth birthday in January 2016, I received a cold call from Dr. Kim Scheuer of Aspen Medical Care asking if I knew anyone who might want to work as a doctor in Aspen. My husband and I, who are both board-certified internal-medicine physicians and the parents of three young boys, almost immediately said yes. The biggest draw was the Aspen school system, which is rightly regarded as one of the best in the state and the country.

            And yet the system is at a crossroads: Covid continues to challenge us as a community, our children are at varying levels of education due to the disruptions of the last year and a half, and we have had recent changes in school administration at both the superintendent and school principal levels. The past eighteen months have brought stress and often fostered divisions between health-care workers and citizens, and between parents, administrators, and teachers. I believe my skills and experiences make me well-suited to bridge these divides. As someone who is at home in these disparate worlds—public health, educational, and parental—I can forge the necessary compromises so we can better address these challenges.

            As the co-chairman of the Aspen school district’s District Accountability Committee, a position I have held since 2018, I actively pushed to expand the International Baccalaureate program into the elementary and middle school years, thus creating a unified curriculum for kindergarten through twelfth grade. This plan has now been implemented by the current school. I served on the facilities committee that developed the strategy and implementation plans for the $93.4 million bond issue that was passed last election to pay for new staff housing and upgrades to campus facilities. Through introducing open meetings and inviting key stake holders from the district to attend, I helped foster better communication between the school and the community, an area that had been consistently identified as falling short.

            When the Covid pandemic complicated the return to schools across the country in the fall of 2020, I cooperated with several like-minded advocates to work at the local, county, and state levels to secure free weekly Covid testing at the school for all staff members—the first that was available in our entire county. Through regular testing, we accomplished our goal of having students attend in-class school full-time, which made Aspen one of the few schools in the state to realize this goal. My work convinced me to join the Pitkin County Board of Health, where, in my current role as vice president, I continue to advocate for Covid mitigation strategies to keep our schools open for as many students as much as possible. Separately, as a primary care physician with the Veterans’ Administration, I successfully started a face-to-face primary-care clinic for veterans in Glenwood Springs, ensuring that our veterans can get medical care closer to where they live.

            As we enter a new school year, we face the continuing challenge of managing the Covid epidemic as well as the fact that students are returning to school at varying levels and abilities due to the disruptions of the past eighteen months. As a member of the school board, my goals would be to:

– Advocate for ALL students at all levels of ability to receive the support and enrichment they need—whether they are gifted and talented, require special education services, or occupy the space in between where it is easy to be overlooked;

– Continue to work on strategic allocation of the bond and tax measures passed last fall;

– Pursue policies based on science that will keep the members of our school community both physically and mentally healthy;

– Prioritize investments in housing and other programs so that our excellent teachers can continue to live and work in our community;

– Ensure that we are recruiting the best and brightest teachers to our schools and the valley, in order to ensure the long-term success of our schools

– Foster a climate of compromise and inclusivity so that, working together, we can begin to heal our community and move forward.

            I am a product of public-school education. I grew up attending public schools in small-town Wyoming and Colorado, and it was through the help and encouragement of my teachers that I realized that my dream of going to medical school was even possible. Our children deserve the same opportunities to pursue their dreams, whatever their socioeconomic backgrounds and starting points. I will work hard to make that so.

All campaign materials are prepared and paid for by Christa Gieszl.