At least three vying for Engelken’s council seat |

At least three vying for Engelken’s council seat

Kaminski, Levy, Pietras apply for Jim Engelken’s at-large spot

Mike Lawrence

— Three familiar faces offering a range of views on local issues have applied for a soon-to-be-vacant Steamboat Springs City Council seat.

Steamboat Springs City Clerk Julie Franklin said former City Councilman Kevin Kaminski, former City Council candidate Kyle Pietras and Steamboat Springs Planning Commission member Rich Levy have applied for the seat to be vacated July 6 by Jim Engelken, who is moving to the Front Range with his family.

Engelken announced his resignation June 15. The City Council meeting July 6 will be his last. City attorney Tony Lettunich said Engelken's resignation means the remaining six City Council members will have 30 days from the time of vacancy to elect a new member by majority vote. That vote likely will occur Aug. 3. Engelken's two-year, at-large seat is open to applicants citywide. His replacement will serve the remainder of his term through the November 2011 election.

Kaminski was elected to the City Council in November 2005, representing District 3, which includes areas south of Walton Creek Road. He resigned in September 2006, however, after purchasing a home with his family on Steamboat Boulevard, outside that district. The City Charter requires council members to live in the district they are elected to represent.

At the time of his resignation, Kaminski said he was hesitant to leave because of concerns his replacement wouldn't share his pro-business, pro-Triple Crown views. Kaminski is an owner of B & K Distributing in Steamboat Springs. He couldn't be reached Monday.

In a December 2009 letter to the Steamboat Today, Kaminski expressed his support for the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation, which city voters rejected in March.

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"I support the annexation because Steamboat 700 is a responsible approach to managing growth for the Yampa Valley," Kaminski wrote. "This annexation is a key part in the long-term health and vitality of this community, and Steamboat Springs needs the ability to control our own destiny when it comes to the issue of regional growth."

Community voice

Levy indicated Monday that his decisions likely would come from a different perspective than Kaminski's.

"I just feel the community needs a voice for the community, really, not just someone who's for the business interests," Levy said, citing a need to maintain community character as described in area planning documents and Vision 2030.

Levy has served three years on the Planning Commission. He's been a member of an affordable housing board and the Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Committee, which guides re­­development at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. He's vice president of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley and chairman of the board of directors for the regional Sierra Club group.

He noted in his application for the City Council seat that those positions could create a perception — and only that — of conflict of interest. The Community Alliance has been an active voice on local issues in recent years, including advocating against growth that it feels "does not meet the intent of the community's stated goals … codified in the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan and created though extensive public participation," according to an August 2009 letter Levy wrote to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Levy said Monday that he would have no conflict of interest on City Council because he does not benefit financially from his service with the Community Alliance.

"We have nothing to gain by the work we do, as individuals, so there's no legal conflict of interest," he said. "You can't have a conflict of philosophy."

Levy, 51, is a self-employed massage therapist who has lived in Steamboat since 1993. He ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 1997.

"That interest never left," he said.

Back in the mix

Pietras, 40, owns a landscaping business and lives in the Brooklyn neighborhood with his family. In the fall, he took his first foray into city politics in an unsuccessful campaign against Engelken for the at-large City Council seat. Engelken collected 1,787 votes to Pietras' 1,382, or about 56 and 44 percent, respectively.

Pietras said he applied for Engelken's seat with the same mindset he had when running against him in the fall.

"Same reasons I had before," Pietras said. "I just want to be involved. I'm a small-business owner and a family man in town and I just want to help represent my population."

Pietras said the city could have done a better job handling the downtown paving project, conducted by the Colorado Department of Transportation and Scott Contracting, to lessen its impact on downtown businesses and on local workers trying to get across town and losing money while idling in traffic, he said.

"We could have worked with CDOT and the construction company a little better for communication of the (detour) routes and things like that," he said.

Engelken's move

Engelken said in April that he and his family were considering a move to the Front Range. His wife, Nancy, left her position as the city's community housing coordinator at the end of last year. She became the executive director of Housing Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing services statewide.

Engelken previously served on City Council from 1995 to 2001. He was re-elected in November 2009 after running a campaign that criticized the previous City Council, which he called "very aggressively pro-growth."

Those interested in his council seat can pick up an application at City Hall on 10th Street or on the Web at

Franklin can be reached at 970-871-8248.

To apply

Applications for the soon-to-be-vacant, at-large Steamboat Springs City Council seat are available at City Hall on 10th Street and the document with this story.

The deadline to apply is July 15.

The at-large seat is open to applicants citywide and will serve the remainder of departing City Councilman Jim Engelken’s term, through the November 2011 election.

Call Steamboat Springs City Clerk Julie Franklin at 970-871-8248 for more information.