November ballot shapes up |

November ballot shapes up

School Board, City Council seats on ballot with rec center

Mike McCollum

— Voters will have plenty of candidates and initiatives to consider this fall despite a local group’s failure to put the recall of School Board member John DeVincentis on the November ballot.

A proposal to build a $34 million recreation center at Ski Town Fields, three Steamboat Springs School Board seats and five Steamboat Springs City Council offices currently are on the ballot. City Clerk Julie Jordan said there still is time for initiatives to be added and candidates to declare for office.

“Things have been floating about, but time is starting to run out if you want something on the ballot,” said Jordan, who noted initiatives need two readings before the city council for inclusion on the ballot. “The drop-dead would be the third Tuesday (August 21) to get a first reading.”

The finalized ballot must be certified by September 7 by the Municipal Clerk, while October 9 is the last day to register to vote.

Recreation center

The proposed recreation center already has triggered debate since the City Council voted, 3-2, Tuesday night to select the Pine Grove Road site, near The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and the Wildhorse Meadows Development, as the potential location for the facility.

“Gym space is maxed out all the time in Steamboat,” said Shannon Lukens, who shuttles her three children among basketball, swimming and lacrosse practices. “We need to have a place where little kids can go, where adults can go, where seniors can go. In the winter, it’s cold and snowy, and you can’t always be outside.”

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If approved by voters, the facility would include space for youth and teen programs, an indoor playground, a large gymnasium, a fitness center and aquatic features, including a six-lane lap pool, diving well and leisure pool.

Pat Carney, director of the Old Town Hot Springs, told the City Council on Tuesday that a recreation center at Ski Town Fields with water and fitness facilities would be “very detrimental” to the Old Town Hot Springs.

“I feel like we’re going to be fighting it out for members,” she said.

Council, board seats

Jordan said candidates for City Council must collect signatures from at least 25 registered electors by August 27 to qualify for the election. As of Friday, only two City Council members, T. Susan Dellinger and Karen Post, have announced they intend to run for re-election. No challengers have filed with the City Clerk’s office, Jordan said.

The failure to recall DeVincentis still leaves three of the five School Board seats up for grabs. School Board Vice President Jeff Troeger’s four-year term is completed, while board members Jerry Kozatch’s and Char Rusk’s appointed terms are up.

Kozatch, who was appointed to finish the term vacated when Tom Miller-Freutel resigned in September 2006, said Thursday he plans to run for election. Rusk and Troeger were unavailable for comment about whether they plan to run.

“I have decided in the last few weeks that we have so many projects that I have put time and energy into that I’d like to see to some of those in the future,” Kozatch said.

Brad Kindred, Steamboat Springs Education Association president, said Friday that no teachers have expressed intent in running for the School Board. In June, board members changed School Board policy to allow school district employees to be on the board.

“The School Board is a thankless job, lots of hours, with a big target on their back,” said Kindred, who noted that, in his opinion, teachers have always had the right to serve on the board. “We could have run somebody before to challenge the policy, but we couldn’t find anybody to do it. Teachers are busy creatures.”

Kindred added he doubts any teacher would step forward to challenge anyone on the board.

“This particular School Board has a great deal of trust and respect from the staff,” he said. “They’ve taken a lot of hits lately for a lot of reasons, but the School Board has the full support of their staff.”

Half-cent sales tax

The Education Fund Board declined to push for an extension this November of the city’s half-cent sales tax for education, which expires Dec. 31, 2009.

“We didn’t feel this year is the year to go for it,” said Fund Board President Robin Crossan, who noted the sales tax most likely will be included on the November 2009 ballot.

“One reason was because, when people in the community have a poor view of city council, which was what they had when we conducted the survey early this year, they also typically have a negative response in their schools,” she said.

Crossan added that the Fund Board also didn’t want to compete with the potential recall of DeVincentis or the proposed recreation center.

“It might have been a little too much for voters to chew on,” she said.