CMC student elected to Steamboat Springs City Council
It was election night and CMC Steamboat Springs student Dakotah McGinlay was following the returns closely, anxiously waiting to see if she had won a seat on Steamboat Springs City Council.
“There was a lot of energy and excitement, but uncertainty as the results were very close for a few hours,” recalled McGinlay, who will graduate this fall with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability studies.
“When it was official, I got really emotional because I began to think of all the people who supported me and believed in me along the way.”
McGinlay’s foray into politics started as a result of a call to action in her local newspaper, which solicited more diverse candidates in age, race, gender and economics for city council.
“The lightbulb went off in my head,” said McGinlay. “I thought, maybe I should throw my name out there.”
Finding her passion at Colorado Mountain College
Born in Colorado Springs, McGinlay, 26, grew up in a military family and moved around the state before landing in Steamboat Springs about five years ago.
It didn’t take long for her to find Colorado Mountain College. McGinlay said she immediately took an interest in the CMC Steamboat Springs Beekeeping Club, which quickly grew to a passion in environmental science.
“I really was trying to find a way to channel my passion into some type of meaningful action,” said McGinlay. “So, I’ll always have a love and gratitude toward CMC. It’s changed my life in so many ways.”
McGinlay said another big draw was CMC’s affordability. She said the low cost provides increased accessibility to someone who may not have the means to do it all by themselves.
“Dakotah’s experience at CMC has been a great time of leadership growth,” said Dr. Tina Evans, professor of sustainability studies at CMC Steamboat Springs. “It has helped her understand the importance of place, community, relationships and service.”
Local impact in her community
McGinlay was sworn in as a city councilwoman on Nov. 9. She sees the next four years as getting a “master’s degree in everything Steamboat Springs.”
“I took on a big responsibility, but I know where I can make the biggest impact on things is right here in my local community, making local change,” McGinlay said.
She hopes to foster sustainability efforts on a local level through the Routt County Climate Action Plan and by supporting local businesses.
“During my campaign, I couldn’t help but grow a tremendous appreciation for our community,” she said. “This is a unique community and we have challenges but I bring a valuable perspective as a younger resident.”