Jeffri Pruyn is the second woman to be mayor of La Junta

Recently the people of La Junta elected their second woman mayor, Jeffri Pruyn. Pruyn and her husband, Mike; son, Jake; and mother, Susan Elliott; have worked tirelessly for the City of La Junta since they moved here, mainly for Mike’s health. She has taken the reins of the job energetically, following in the footsteps of a very progressive mayor, Lynn Horner. She works hand in hand with City Manager Rick Klein, who is our own Energizer Bunny. Most recent project is the clearing of Anderson Arroyo in preparation for the trail from 10th Street to the river. Another is cleaning up the derelict properties around the city, and yet another dear to Pruyn is the doable art projects such as the new trash containers downtown and at the park.

Pruyn and Klein have a common goal - clean up the town, make it attractive and develop a healthy lifestyle for its citizens. Revitalize the downtown, making it a happening place with apartments suitable for young people above the stores and a lively downtown activity level. Pruyn comes from being a council member to being a mayor by a similar path to that of our former female mayor, Ardeth Sneath. Sneath had been editor of the La Junta Tribune-Democrat and also worked at Colorado Bank & Trust before and during the time she was mayor. Her civic concern caused her to run for City Council.

Sneath decided to put her name up for mayor while she was serving in the City Council - it was during the time both the Santa Fe Railroad offices pulled out and Nibco moved its operation to Mexico. One of the other council members asked her whom she preferred for mayor, and she said, “Myself, because I just might run.” She continued, “I went out and lined up my votes.” That time the other council members put her in office, but the people of La Junta followed suit for the next 14 years. “I went out when they term-limited me,” she said.

At one point, then City Manager Dan Noller said to her, “I don’t know how much longer I can stand you as mayor - you keep losing jobs for us.” Joking, of course. Together, and with the help of many others, including Economic Development Director Allison Cortner, they managed to bring four new industries into town. Among these were DeBourgh Manufacturing and Lewis Bolt & Nut. “It takes a community to build a community,” said Sneath. “We had a group of people in La Junta Economic Development that worked tirelessly.”

About her first city manager, Dan Noller, Sneath said, “He was a character, all right.” She said she really enjoyed being mayor, even though it was a challenge. When Noller retired, Rick Klein was appointed city manager. “It was a good deal so far as I’m concerned. Dan Noller was very cautious with money - guarded it as if it was his. Then when Rick came in, it was a new era. I love him as if he were one of my own kids. I had a nice time during those years, and was glad I undertook the job. It was a challenge, but I enjoyed it.”

La Junta is lucky to have and to have had a couple of dynamic ladies who see a bright future for La Junta. They share a tireless work ethic and the belief that people in La Junta, working together, can get things done. “It wouldn’t have worked if we had not worked well together,” said Sneath. “I am proud of the people who brought those companies here, to keep things going and bring things back into town.”

Pruyn agrees with Sneath when it comes to working together. "It's like a perfect storm, with a new mayor, a lot of new faces on council and a new economic developer, Cynthia Nieb," said Pruyn. "Our vision is to bring back La Junta's downtown pride by providing assistance to new and existing entrepreneur businesses and provide living spaces for those wanting to live in an exciting active downtown."