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Jonson Kuhn | North Forty News
Loveland Mayor Jacki Marsh has been winning for quite some time now, having first taken the seat for mayor back in 2017, though she wasn’t necessarily the favored candidate expected to win; she’s been elected for a total of three consecutive terms, but winning three mayor elections has by no means been her first taste of victory against the odds.
In the early 2000’s Jacki was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition to the point that her doctor gave her roughly two years to live. Around the same time, she was blessed with the birth of her granddaughter whose life she was determined to be a part of, so Jacki made the decision to follow her from California to Utah to Northern Colorado, despite the doctor’s warning of her race against time. 18 years later, her granddaughter is now preparing to graduate from high school in Fort Collins.
Jacki first arrived in Colorado roughly in 2013 after caring for her mother who was ill with pancreatic cancer. After the passing of her mother, Jacki bought a mixed-use building in downtown Loveland where she lived upstairs and had a gallery on the ground level on 4th street across from the Rialto Theater. Up to that point, she had been making her living by designing and selling her own eclectic African and Tibetan-inspired jewelry all across the country. A year into her gallery being open, she was invited to attend a business owner’s meeting downtown where plans were being discussed for the future of downtown Loveland.
Seeing it as a chance to meet other business owners from the area, she happily attended but was quickly concerned with how as a business owner, this meeting was the first time she was hearing about any future plans for the city. The response to her concerns was “if you went to city council meetings, you’d know.” And thus, the seed was planted. As she started to steadily attend council meetings, one thing she immediately noticed was the fact that there weren’t a lot of small local business owners (such as herself) that were being heard by the council and more attention and focus seemed to be going to large developers and big business.
“Esh’s Market who came in shortly after Sprouts weren’t treated the same Sprouts was, local business owners were treated differently,” Jacki said. “I started looking into metro districts and I saw it as I still see it to this day, taxation without representation[…]As a local business owner, downtown resident, and property owner, I didn’t feel as though my point of view was being represented.”
So, after attending meetings and being present for three years, by 2017 she finally decided it was time to make her presence more known by running for office. By that point, she says she had “made a pain in the butt of herself,” primarily amongst metro districts.
In November of 2017, she ended up winning her first Mayor race, despite odds and against some council expectations. In all three of her elections, she’s been outspent on her campaign budget by her opponents but that only speaks volumes about how popular she is with the public and voters.
“I try to be a voice for everyday people. I try to be transparent and accountable,” said Jacki. “Whether you agree with me or not, you trust that I’m telling you what I think the truth is. I’m not representing big developers at the expense of everyday citizens[…]I ran because I didn’t feel I was being heard, I think people vote for me because they feel they’ll be heard.”
Within her time as mayor, there have been a number of focus points but one, in particular, has been affordable housing. “When you’re at a point where the median household income cannot afford a median house price, obviously there are barriers there that need to be addressed,” Jacki said. “The goal would be that the people who work here can also live here. It’s going to take a variety of solutions, including taking a look at zoning issues.”
Another important issue to Jacki is climate change. “I’ve lived here (Northern Colorado) since 2012 and I can see the change in climate just in the time that I’ve been here, that’s really frightening; have we gone past the point of no return, I think it’s a legitimate question.” Her goal is to hopefully see Northern Colorado as being carbon-free or as close to it as possible by 2030.
When asked whether or not she has intentions of running for a fourth term, she simply states, “I don’t know; by the end of this term I will have been in for six years, I’m going to be 68 this year, I’m very grateful to be on this side; it’s a lot longer than I expected, but I don’t know if I’m running again.”
It was the feeling of not being represented that inspired her to initially run in the first place, but she says if someone ran for mayor that she could support, then she’d be happy to step aside. From beating her health diagnoses to beating favored mayor candidates, one thing you can definitely say about Jacki is she’s a winner. When asked to reflect on her accomplishments, she humbly replies, “I’ve lived a good life.” Along those lines, she’ll be heading to New York in June for the 50th Anniversary of the World’s First Women’s 6-Mile Race, a race she won at the age of 17, just as she has with every other “race” she’s run against throughout her life.