Trustee-elect May Soricelli seeks to improve communication, build trust with Berthoud community

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

The decision to seek elected office is not one to be taken lightly. For May Soricelli, now a Berthoud Trustee-elect, it was one that was reached after much contemplation, prayer and input from trusted friends and colleagues.

Soricelli, who currently serves as the Public Information Officer for the Berthoud Fire Protection District (BFPD), explained during a discussion with the Surveyor Tuesday, Feb. 25, that her decision to seek a spot on the Berthoud Board of Trustees was only reached after she concluded serving on the board would not affect her position with the BFPD.

“Could it be a conflict of interest with the fire department because that’s my No. 1 priority?” Soricelli said was the question she asked herself during the decision-making process. “I truly believe that what I do at the fire department is benefiting the community; I didn’t want to throw in for trustee and have it compromise the fire department.”

Soricelli explained that she was approached by multiple people, including Mayor Will Karspeck, who implored her to run. She said her final step was to speak with the BFPD board about the idea of serving as a town trustee and all five members gave her an emphatic endorsement.

“Everything that I do as a trustee is not a reflection of the fire department, I have to separate those two, I have personal feelings about the fire department because of how amazing they are but my decisions will not be a reflection of the fire chief or Berthoud fire, they’re strictly my feelings,” Soricelli explained.

Soricelli said that, while she believes the current iteration of the board does a lot of good work, and singled out Karspeck in particular in that regard, that there is ample room for improvement with communication and public engagement, which she believes she is uniquely qualified to help improve. Soricelli understands, especially as a married mother of three, how busy people’s lives are; few people have the time to sit through lengthy board meetings.

 “I don’t see the current town board really connecting, I think there’s more they can do, it’s not saying they’re doing something wrong, just maybe they don’t have the avenues to reach or know how to reach the community,” she said. “For me, anyway we can improve communication with the public, be able to not only communicate with them but then listen. I’d like to see the town build public trust, because transparency and information builds public trust and that builds a relationship that is more amiable.”

Soricelli outlined how she will bring fresh, new ideas to the board, particularly in the areas of communication and public engagement, drawing on her experience at the BFPD. “Creative solutions, creative ideas, that’s what I do at the fire department is find ways to bridge to the community about what we’re doing at the fire service, there are so many ways we can do that in the digital age that I don’t think the board is currently utilizing.”

She explained that the board’s decision to use Certificates of Participation (COPs) to fund the Waggener Farm Park development after the voters rejected a similar bond measure was handled poorly by the town. “I think what happened with the COP issue was a real clear indicator that the town board isn’t listening,” Soricelli said and added that the decision, which she described as “extremely unethical”  did “significant damage” to the public trust on the board. “If people feel like what they say or what they vote on doesn’t matter, that someone, somewhere will override it, it’s a very defeating place to be as a citizen or as a voter.”

“I think sometimes the issues get pushed fast because they’re afraid that people will push back, and to me that should be a red flag; if there’s push back we need to push pause,” Soricelli said. “The vote no on the rec center bond should have been a push pause moment; let’s push pause and ask why people are voting yes on the sales tax but not on the rec center bond, there’s probably a reason.” Bringing enhanced transparency and more effective communication with the citizens, Soricelli explained, can help repair some of the broken trust.

Soricelli outlined that she believes the town is benefiting from the growth but that it is very important that the board work to preserve the current character of the town saying, “Like a lot of people who moved here we moved here for the small, rural, sleepy town and I love that about Berthoud but I also know there’s the big picture, the 30,000-foot view that says you sustain life here and give people the best quality of life and part of that involves growth because you need the funding,” she explained, adding that the growth has helped bring forth the funding necessary for improvements that would have otherwise been impossible.

“I think fast and heavy growth can be scary for most people, so I want to be conscientious that development fits the character of Berthoud,” Soricelli said. “My vision for Berthoud’s future is really a picture of Berthoud’s history. Our history and culture is so rich in Berthoud. The garden spot’s roots go very deep. I learned this from my time served on the Historical Society Board. If we can craft our future development and vision around preservation, conservation, and Berthoud’s specific character, then I think we stand a chance at maintaining the things that make Berthoud special.”

“If I can serve on the town board with the same tenacity for justice, equality, safety, and provision for all people living in Berthoud, it would be my honor,” Soricelli said.

Soricelli and the rest of the new town board will be sworn in this April.

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