The changing of the guard

Q. Kevin Bennet has been City Council president for more than six years. What differences can we expect to see in how th council functions under your leadership?

A. On of my primary goals is to lessen the importance of the president of the City Council and to increase the imporance of the City Council as a body in the decision-making process and leadership of our community. This starts with balancing the power and involvement on council by the other six members.

This also involves having individual city council members to include the president less involved in activities and meetings that staff can be in. Only when our citizens see that the decisions for our community are made by seven diverse representatives tother through active listening, dialogue and debate, will the majority of our citizens feel that they are truly represented.

It is important to me that through my leadership that more citizens feel that the city government really listens and represents them and no t the most powerful or verbal special interest group.

You can expect from me more emphasis on how to reach and communicate with our citizens and increase emphasis on opposite camps working together to solve difficult issues.

Less me, more we; less confrontation more collaboration.

Q. The results of the Nov. 6 election showed that the community is evenly divided on several issues. How can the council under your leadership address that division?

A. I do not necessarily agree that the election showed that the community is evenly divided on several issues.

What it did show me is that despite the very important issues on the ballot, despite the record amount of advertising dollars spent by opponents and special interest groups and despite the Stept. 11 tragedy and following events, only approximately 2,400 or our approximately 8,500 registered voters came to the polls.

The election did show that those who voted are more equally divided, however.

I am very concerned about the lak of involvement by many citizens. Underneath my leadership, I hope to ignite more interest and dialogue among community citizens through better and newer ways of communication with our electorate.

Tom Ross’ article was right on! Let’s be less busy as council members with being in meetings and more involved with talking with (not to) and listening to our constituents in non-confrontational settings.

I like the idea of going to the dresser more often!

Q. The Chamber Resort Association, whose mission you have supported and advocated, was a lightning rod during the election. Based on the election, do you see any changes in the relationship between city government and the chamber?

A. Yes, not just based on the election results, there has been a building momentum to focus on the deep-rooted mistrust and misunderstand by certain community members about the chambers function and importance to a healthy community.

I belive that the chamber’s open and constant communication with the city is now, more than ever, important to help presever our community’s very vulnerable economic health.

However, I believe the structure between the city and the chamber can and should be explored and changed to refelect concersn by some community citicesn that the chamber is pro-growth.

It starts with an attitude shift get rid of the word “the” let’s put faces and live onto each other it really is “we.” Good dialogue, great listening, opening our minds up will help all of us see how inter-related we are to each other’s success.

Q. Now that the 3-2-1 transportation tax has been defeated, do you see any role for the city in supporting the airline flight guarantee program at Yampa Valley Regional Airport?

A. Absolutely! “The City” needs to take an active role in partnering with “the county,” “the chamber” and “the ski corp.” to find ways to preserve the air transportation into our valley.

Good, reliable air service is vital to all diverse groups and individuals in our community. We need to work together.

The devil will be in the details as to how we accomplish this, but I believe we must.

Q. Your term as council president lasts two years. In November 2003, what do you hope that the council will have accomplished under your leadership?

A. A new attitude of our city leaders as to how we work together with citzens, business and our county partners to accomplish goals of our community;

n the completion and adoption of our community plan;

n a secure revenue source for our city budget;

n an analysis of our city services and city governement with specific action steps implemented to lessen the bureacracy and have our government be more responsive to our individual citizens;

n And, did I say affordable housing actually available in Steamboat?

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