Interview: Sallie Clark talks priorities for military, government under new role in Colorado Springs

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4min 46sec
Colorado Springs Senior Advisor on Military and Government Affairs, Sallie Clark

Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade appointed his former political rival, Sallie Clark, as senior advisor on government and military affairs.

She's a small business owner and has worked at many levels of government, from serving as county commissioner to relaying statewide priorities as a federal appointee.

Clark started in the position in early August as part of the Office of Community Affairs, a new city department from the Mobolade administration.  

KRCC spoke with Sallie Clark about her new role.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

On the role of Military and Government Affairs Senior Advisor 

Essentially I have three different types of jobs within one role. Government affairs primarily is engaged in government policies, looking for new grant opportunities that the city may be able to receive, trying to stretch and leverage those dollars for what we collect from our local citizens.

And to provide that interconnection with the military installations with veterans and military families, as well as really look at how we can partner and be a hub for those who are transitioning out [of the military] or even just transitioning spouses who need some connectivity.

On the Office of Community Affairs

We've seen how busy he (Yemi Mobolade) is, how much he's out in the community, but he can't be everywhere. And so that's where I think the community affairs team comes in… It bridges the gap between the citizens and the mayor's office and it provides another conduit to really reach the mayor's office and to be available when citizens need help.

And that might be everything from just understanding the connectivity of neighborhoods to the faith-based community to the fact that I'm working with government policy and government affairs and then also reaching out to the military. The other component of it is cultural affairs, which handles a lot of the different cultural events that we have here in our community.

On her focus since starting the job 

I've been meeting with government folks from federal, state, down to the local level, really working with our state legislators, trying to get an idea of what things they might be working on this next legislative calendar year that starts soon and how they're preparing for that. And then additionally, getting an understanding of the military installations. 

The mayor's been visiting the military installations here in Colorado Springs and El Paso County, getting to know their leadership and who's really at the helm. And then reaching out and pulling together some different groups that have been under the city traditionally with the Military Spouse Career Coalition to see how we can help those spouses that are sort of transitioning from community to community and looking for work as well as those who are transitioning out of the military.

So the mayor has put a large focus on knowing how important our military is here to our community. Approximately a third, more than a third [of our entire population], are military families, they’re veterans in our community. 

I've just really been working every day, going from place to place and meeting lots of folks and going to a lot of meetings. But at the same time also tracking some of the things that are going to be going on that will be impacting Colorado Springs. And the Chamber (of Commerce) has been very engaged with the mayor's office. We're keeping in close contact on business issues and how the city is continuing to grow.

On keeping Space Command in Colorado Springs 

Certainly, we have made the case that Space Command Headquarters needs to be here in Colorado Springs and in El Paso County. As that relates to the discussions that continue to take place in D.C. among budget issues, among questions about why the decision was made to reverse the decision… As we go forward though, we need to definitely track that and make sure that it's all staying on track. 

I think the one thing that Colorado has going for it too is that everyone's on the same page. It doesn't matter about party affiliation or which side of the aisle you're on, everyone is moving forward hand-in-hand to say ‘it needs to stay in Colorado.’ And whether that's the Governor's office or whether that's our federal delegation, our congressional members in the Senate and House, or whether it's at the state level with our state legislators, everyone has really voiced a desire and support to keep Space Command here in Colorado Springs. So we just continue to have an optimistic viewpoint... I think that the military contractors are seeing that too by increasing job opportunities here in the Pikes Peak region, in El Paso County and Colorado Springs.

On her priorities for the future

Looking for additional grants that we can take advantage of at the local level to be able to leverage and expand the ability for us to keep up with growth. Understand what may be coming around so that we have more of an impact in not just our community, but an impact with our state legislature. As one of the discussions that goes on is about local control and who does it better. Is it better to have the state making decisions for us or do we like that at a local level? And I think the mayor has been pretty clear that local control is the best.

As it relates to my position, it's mainly keeping in contact with our state legislators. Understanding and keeping in good contact with the staff at the federal level from our senators and our congressional delegation members in the House.

And then in addition to that, policies that come forward making sure that we have a voice in what those policies look like [from] a military standpoint. It's continuing to reach out and get to know those folks on the military installations to make sure that they know that the mayor's office is supportive of our military and our military families and especially our veterans who have served our country with distinction.

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