Andy Farr, president of the UHNA and I sat down recently with Diane Young at a local restaurant to better understand what City Council can do for all of us. Candid, accessible, and engaging, Diane shed a lot of light on some practical aspects of the appropriate interactions between constituents and the Council. The following is an excerpt from that conversation.
|Q:||What can/can’t City Council assist constituents with?|
|A:||City Council can help with streets, parks, safety, traffic and paving issues.
“You are our eyes and ears,” Diane stated.
The best way to submit an issue is an email with a photograph.
City Council cannot help with traffic tickets or state issues.
|Q:||What is the number one complaint you get?|
|A:||Traffic. Speeding in neighborhoods. Followed by number of cars per resident at a single property. Denver zoning laws dictate that only one vehicle per licensed driver, plus one additional vehicle per household are allowed in residential zone districts.|
|Q:||What is the strangest call you’ve received?|
|A:||A gentleman called to say that the Denver Post was “missing the mark” by putting his paper at the end of the driveway instead of on the porch as agreed. Diane called The Post and remedied this for him. While this anecdote is charming, it is not representative of an appropriate use of City Council.|
Dialing 311 is a way for the citizen to be heard by and/or receive information from the government in Denver. Examples of when to call 311 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org:
Potholes – repair, locations
Animal Control – strays, cruelty, disturbances
Missed trash collection
City service inquiry
Zoning and permits
Snow removal – report areas in need
311 Online has a comprehensive list of all items:
Diane Zinn Young was born in Washington, DC, but grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She earned her degree in sociology with a minor in political science and psychology from the University of New Mexico. Diane met Greg Young, now her husband of almost 50 years while in high school. After they married she was employed as a social worker in New Mexico and then in San Diego where Greg was in the Navy. In 1970 when Greg took a job with Samsonite they moved to Denver and started a family. Together they raised two sons in Denver’s Southmoor Park East neighborhood, where the boys attended public schools. Their sons have gone on to college, have families and work in media production, one in New York and one here in Denver.
Shortly after arriving in Denver, Diane became a volunteer with the Denver League of Women Voters. What started as volunteer work became a career. Diane spent eight years on the Denver League board, two of them as President of the local chapter. She eventually became Executive Director of the Colorado League, a position she held for 17 years. Beyond her work with the League of Women Voters, Diane has been involved in civil service and public education. Diane was always involved with school matters, volunteering and serving on various boards while her sons attended Fairmont and Southmoor Elementary Schools, Cole Middle and Thomas Jefferson High School. More recently, Diane served for four years on the Bradley International School Collaborative School Committee as the community representative.
It was through her work with the League of Women Voters, however, that Diane met her friend and future employer, City Councilwoman Peggy Lehmann. Since 2003, Diane has been an Assistant to the Councilwoman, and is often the first point of contact when constituents call for help or information. In the past dozen years Diane has helped hundreds of Southeast Denver residents with issues as simple as traffic or road condition complaints up to the complexities of zoning and public works funding. At times Diane has even worked beyond the limits of city government to connect local citizens with the correct person at the appropriate State or Federal Agency. Although stretching beyond the office of a city councilperson, one of Diane’s memorable successes was helping a desperate man resolve his legal immigration case by working with Colorado’s Congressional delegation. Her work was life changing for this person. She is most proud of working with the University Hills Neighborhood to help them form what is now the University Hills Neighborhood Association.
Diane decided to use the defined term-limited period for Councilwoman Lehmann as her own personal term limit. This June, she too will retire from a long career in public service, but plans to remain busy. Her neighbors may see her more often around the Southmoor Park East neighborhood with her husband, children, and four grandkids. Diane plans to travel more frequently, including trips to the Canadian Maritimes and the British Isles. Diane plans to continue volunteering for and will remain the Chairman of Outreach for the Denver Commission on Aging.
When asked if she could “leave it behind” when she retires, Diane expressed full confidence that the new councilwoman and her staff are well-prepared for the job moving forward. She will be taking many of the friendships she made along the way with her and will never forget the many wonderful people she had the pleasure to work for.
The UHNA congratulates Diane Young on her long career in civil service and thanks her the many years of help and assistance to Councilwoman Peggy Lehmann and the residents of Southeast Denver.
KT Hastie with Andy Farr