Meet Joella West
“I’m Running for City Council!”
When I tell people that, the response is about evenly divided between “Thank you for doing that” and “Are you crazy?” Well, that’s not exactly true. There’s way more of the latter than the former. And that’s too bad, because it makes pretty clear that a high percentage of people who live in Steamboat don’t hold their City Council in the highest esteem. What a shame. I am not crazy and I would very much like to have a seat on a Council that will be respected for what it does. That doesn’t mean taking only the most popular positions, or avoiding taking a position at all. Some hard choices must be made, and right now the clock is running on some of those choices. The Council will look very different after November 2 – will you elect 4 new members who will commit to finishing the work, who are willing to not simply the victors in a popularity contest, who are not tied to special interests, who bring to the table relevant experience but no attachment to the way things were always done, and who are to put in the countless hours that will be required to make the right choices for our City?
What Am I Doing Here?
I didn’t grow up here, although I learned about Steamboat Springs as a nine-year-old, when Charlotte Perry was my first drama teacher in Monterey, California. Fast forward to 2001, when my son moved to Steamboat. My first visit here was when we celebrated his 21st birthday with dinner at Antares. That was when The Curse of the Yampa Valley began its work. By 2003, I was investing in ski condos. By 2007, my husband and I had a summer place in North Routt. And in 2015, we cut the cord, left California, and moved to Steamboat full time.
I quickly learned that in Steamboat, everyone reads The Paper. So I did too. The coverage of the City in general and the Council in particular seemed…not very good. When I read the announcement that City 101 would be open to the public for the first time, I thought it would be interesting to learn and hopefully understand more about what was really happening. Now I am a member of the first “civilian” class of 2016.
Since then, I’ve been involved in volunteer opportunities. When the 2016 Community Housing Steering Committee was formed, I served on the working group for Low Income Housing. I served on the 2017 Accommodations Tax Reserve Committee, and in 2019 on the Fire/Emergency Services Funding Committee. While all of this doesn’t make me an expert in city government, it certainly represents a big step up in the learning curve.
I also worked as an election judge in the 2020 primary and general election, and I’m just starting my second year on the Board of Adjustment.
Steamboat has abundant non-profit organizations doing amazing work. In 2011 I began volunteering each summer as a weekly pet visitor at the Doak Walker Care Center, and continued with that work at Casey’s Pond, from the time it opened until March 2020.
I just retired as President of Har Mishpacha, the Jewish Congregation of Steamboat Springs, and as Chair of Seminars at Steamboat. I continue to serve on the Executive Committee of the Community Agriculture Alliance.
Not too long after we purchased our North Routt property, my husband and I volunteered for North Routt Fire Rescue. We saw that there was a significant shortage of EMT’s, so when we returned to California for the winter, we completed an accelerated course at the UCLA Center for Pre-Hospital Care, and came back to North Routt to serve as EMT’s until we moved into town full time.
And Before Steamboat??
I grew up in Carmel-by-the-Sea, graduated from UC Berkeley, and several years later from Mid-Valley College of Law in Van Nuys, CA.
I worked in retail beginning at age 11, starting by helping my parents in their pet shop, and then in music stores. When I realized there was no future for a woman in the music business, I enrolled in night law school. For 4 years I worked as the advertising manager of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, went to evening and weekend classes, and raised my daughter as a single parent.
That was a hard time, but worth it. I spent 40 years as a lawyer in the entertainment business in Los Angeles and New York, working for television production companies, networks, and cable companies, including as General Counsel at Comedy Central. A lot of the work was transactional—making hundreds and hundreds of deals, and unravelling a few of them under rather tricky circumstances (see under “Dave Chappelle”). I also spent a good deal of time interacting with the industry labor unions, and protecting my employers’ intellectual property rights. My “symbols of office”, which I kept behind my desk, were a crystal ball, a fireman’s hat, and a pair of tap shoes. As you can see, I do comedy, not drama. How does all that translate into being on City Council? 40 years of negotiations—with talent, agents, networks, unions. Sitting at the table with angry people, with people with all kinds of motives and undisclosed interests. Understanding when I had the power, and when I didn’t, when I had to close the deal and when I could play for time. And knowing how to be respectful in both success and failure.
Now that I have retired from the practice of law, I manage the literary estate of a famous author, and I consult for a few specialized entertainment industry companies on labor issues.
- Election Judge in the 2020 primary and general election
- Second year on the Board of Adjustment
- Since 2011 summer weekly pet visitor at the Doak Walker Care Center and then Casey’s Pond from opening until March 2020
- Recently retired President of Har Mishpacha
- Recently retired Chair Seminars at Steamboat
- Executive Committee Board Member Community Agriculture Alliance
- Former Volunteer EMT, North Routt Fire Rescue
- 2019 Fire/Emergency Services Funding Committee
- 2017 Accommodations Tax Reserve Committee
- 2016 Community Housing Steering Committee group for low income housing
Mid-Valley College of Law
40 years as a lawyer in the entertainment business in Los Angeles and New York, working for television production companies, networks, and cable companies, including as General Counsel at Comedy Central.