Contributions from outside Routt enter council races |

Contributions from outside Routt enter council races

Bennett, Solomon receive highest percentage of local dollars

Mike Lawrence

— Ken Solomon and Kevin Bennett received the highest percentage of local contributions among candidates for Steamboat Springs City Council.

Finance reports filed Oct. 13, for campaign contributions through Oct. 8, show a total of $4,655 in contributions from outside of Routt County to candidates running for City Council – about a fifth of the $22,142 in total contributions. Those figures do not include the more than $7,000 that candidates donated to their own campaigns.

Three City Council candidates – Solomon, Bennett and Jim Engelken – who have said they are running on a similar platform, highlighted by managing growth, received higher percentages of local dollars than their opponents. The finance reports also shed light on the impact of financial contributions from the development and business communities.

In the race for the District 1 City Council seat, Bennett received $200 from outside Routt County, about 5 percent of his $4,087 in contributions. Bennett gave his campaign $1,500. His opponent, Cari Hermacinski – who is leaving the at-large seat – received $2,400 from outside the county, about 24 percent of her $10,089 in contributions. Hermacinski loaned $5,000 to her campaign.

Hermacinski said two of her largest out-of-town contributors are business partners. She received $1,000 from Henry Lubsen Jr., of Center Valley, Pa. He is the CEO of Afilias, an Internet infrastructure provider. Hermacinski received $500 from Del Gehrett, a Littleton business consultant.

She said two other out-of-county donors, who gave a total of $750, are pilots who use Steamboat Springs Airport.

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Bennett could not be reached for comment Thursday. But he has a significant supporter in the airport community, as well. John Adams, son of Bob Adams – the namesake of the airfield and Bob Adams Drive at Colorado Mountain College – contributed $1,000 to Bennett’s campaign.

“I think (Bennett) is somebody that is passionate about the well-being of our community, and I think that has been proven by his past performance as a council member,” Adams said this month.

In the race for City Council’s District 2 seat, Solomon received $30, or 1 percent of contributions, from outside the county. His opponent, Kenny Reisman, received $1,475 – 68 percent of his contributions – from outside Routt.

“My base support is young families who are trying to figure out every day where they’re going to make the next (bill) payment,” Reisman said, adding that although he has the “emotional support” of his base, “it’s really difficult for me to ask those people for their financial support, as well.”

Reisman said many of his nonlocal contributions are from family members.

Solomon said he has garnered small donations in tough economic times.

“If you look at my numbers, you see that most of my contributions have been small and from local people,” he said.

In the race for the at-large seat, Engelken received $300, or 15 percent of his contributions, from outside county lines. His opponent, Kyle Pietras, received $250 from outside Routt out of the $559 contributed, or 45 percent. Pietras gave his campaign about $1,250. Engelken gave his campaign $200.

Incumbent Walter Magill is running uncontested for the District 3 seat and received no contributions. Neither Brian Kelly nor Bill Kennedy received out-of-county dollars in their race for a Steamboat Springs School Board seat.

Business bucks

Hermacinski acknowledged Thursday that she has been labeled as a candidate largely funded by the development community. The finance reports show that she received at least $3,025 from contributors in local development, construction, real estate or related industries. Those contributions include a total of $850 from Scott and Tim Borden, of Borden Companies and Yampa Valley Bank; $250 from Mark Scully, of Green Courte Partners; a total of $400 from Tom and Sarah Fox, of Fox Construction; $100 from contractor Mark Halvorson; $75 from Realtor Ulrich Salzgeber; and more.

Bennett received at least $550 from people in similar industries.

Hermacinski said her contributions were in line with employment demographics of the community and come from longtime locals who build homes and create jobs.

The next filing deadline is Oct. 30, for the Oct. 9 to 25 period.

Outside impact

Contributions made from outside Routt County to Steamboat Springs City Council or School Board candidates

Contributions to Candidates, Out of County Contributions, Percent Out of County

Kevin Bennett: $4,087, $200, 5

Jim Engelken: $2,003, $300, 15

Cari Hermacinski: $10,089, $2,400, 24

Walter Magill: $0, $0, 0

Kyle Pietras: $559, $250, 45

Kenny Reisman: $2,175, $1,475, 68

Ken Solomon: $3,229, $30, 1

TOTAL: $22,142, $4,655, 21

* Totals do not include contributions made by candidates to their own campaigns.

** Percents are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Source: Campaign finance reports