Not all politicians keep their election promises, but Sunlight Mountain Resort’s sixth mini-mayor – Axelle Hansen, 8 – is aiming to break the mold.
After being elected to office on November 2, Axelle’s first order of business was to establish the Sunlight Safety Club, a committee tasked with providing visual aids for the safety of her constituents, the Children of the Mountain.
“I want the kids to be safe,” Axelle said in an exclusive interview with The Post Independent.
The political upstart is shaking up the status quo with the introduction of a new coloring map, which could allow children to learn the different mountain trails before hitting the trails.
“The idea sort of sprouted from the coloring rugs in restaurants,” said Alesha Marrow, campaign manager and mother of Axelle. “She colors all the time in restaurants, and she asked, ‘What if we could color the mountain?'”
Firebrand’s ambitions for a safer winter experience don’t stop with overhauling his administration’s education policy. Axelle also plans to add visual signs to each ski slope, labeling them with images of animals for users who can’t read yet.
“The easier races would have a dog on the signs, so they could follow them,” said Axelle. “And the toughest might have a wolf or something.”
While some readers might be concerned that the mayor’s new signage could be confusing for users trying to tell a dog from a wolf as they slide down the mountain, Axelle said the solution was really quite simple.
“We’re going to make the dogs sweeter,” she explained.
An avid snowboarder, Axelle learned to shred about two years ago on the slopes at her home near Rifle Falls.
“We have big hills that get covered in snow every year,” she said. “It was fun hitting the hill so I kept doing it. And I went to ski school in Sunlight.
The oldest of three, Axelle said her role as an older sister taught her that safety is more than a political slogan.
“I love snowboarding with my brothers,” she said. “I help them with things like not being afraid to get on the snowboard and learning to trust the mountains.”
The passion for winter sports is lived with the family.
Axelle’s mother learned to snowboard as a teenager, and her father builds an ice rink in the backyard every year.
“One of my favorite times of the year is winter as I snowboard and skate,” said Axelle. “Sometimes I try to skate backwards.”
For the people
Leading a popular campaign, the young mini-mayor said she could not have won the election without the support of her family.
As Axelle set out, shook hands, and explained his political platform to voters, her younger brothers hoisted their homemade signs. At home, Axelle’s mother has developed a digital marketing strategy while her father appears to be Axelle’s biggest financial backer.
“We are very proud of her,” said Alesha. “My main thing as a parent is to allow our kids to do things like this and support them if they want to. “
A longtime hunter, Axelle is a volunteer at heart, explained Alesha. When the opportunity arose to run for mayor, Axelle was quick to raise her hand.
“I wanted to run because it looked really fun,” said Axelle. “And I can open the mountain.”
Sunlight Resort has been holding mini-mayoral elections since 2015, and all but the first mayor, who was appointed to the post, are girls, said Troy Hawks, Sunlight Resort’s director of sales and marketing.
“Every day the adults are completely outnumbered by the kids at Sunlight,” Hawks said. “We knew we would be in trouble if they didn’t get a seat at the table.
Mini-mayors are responsible for representing the resort on opening day and certain public events, as well as creating policy during their first 100 days in office. Such policies can include adding items to the cafe’s menu, setting up fairy mailboxes, and organizing coat drives for underprivileged children in foreign countries, Hawks explained.
The resort encourages mini-mayors to be good stewards of their constituencies by engaging in a dialogue with other mountain children about how sunlight could improve. And, while anyone aged 12 and under can run for office, Hawks said all mayors to date have been elected locally – mostly from Rifle and Silt.
“The mini-mayor position gives a voice to young gunpowder dogs who were previously under-represented,” Hawks said.
Although Axelle only visited Sunlight once before being elected, she looks forward to using her family’s seasonal pass as much as possible this winter.
“If I could go as much as I wanted, I would go six days a week,” said Axelle. “I’m trying to learn to jump and spin on the snowboard this year.
Journalist Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at [email protected]