Candidate Q&A: Daniel Gerke
Editor’s note: Steamboat Pilot & Today has asked each of the local candidates in the 2021 Election on Nov. 2 to participate in a Q&A to better inform voters, asking the same questions related to each specific office. Visit SteamboatPilot.com/election for the latest election news and information.
Daniel Gerke is running for Steamboat Springs City Council District 3.
Why are you running for City Council?
I am running for City Council because I feel it is my civic duty. I am at a place in my life that allows me the necessary time and freedom to be able to work hard for Steamboat. I believe I bring a set of experiences and skills that would be useful representing and leading our community. There are many challenges and opportunities that have, are, and will present themselves to us. The areas that I want to focus on are defining a sensible approach to short-term rentals, working together to develop affordable housing, working with businesses and other organizations to find solutions for the worker shortage, advocate for our parks and trails so they have the necessary funding and support to maintain and enhance our quality of life. And, most important to me, I want to ensure the voices of our citizens are represented on their City Council.
Do you believe short-term rentals should have restrictions? If so, what specific restrictions would you support? And if not, why not?
Yes, just like any business, which short-term rentals are, there should be some rules established since the community should not be expected to cover the cost of waste for any business. When I say waste, I mean noise, trash complaints, parking, etc. We need to be thoughtful on how we approach and solve this issue and the first step is to start collecting data, which the city is doing. I would also like to exclude HOAs/covenants from city restrictions since this should be handled by their residents/members. When reviewing restrictions, I also want to understand how these restrictions may impact affordable housing for our community since it seems that short-term rentals are playing a role in the affordable housing crisis. Lastly, I believe we should register short-term rentals regardless of their HOA/covenant status so we can pass any cost these have for our community back to the owners.
In your opinion is transportation a key service the city should be providing to the community, and do you have any ideas on how the city can provide sustainable funding to continue the service at current levels or expand it?
Yes, transportation is a key service for our city and benefits all of us by reducing the need for car traffic while providing free and safe ways for our citizens and guests to get around our city. I do not think we need to break out a separate funding mechanism for this service. We will need to be prepared for the Brown Ranch development so the community should plan on seeing additional cost for these services as our city’s footprint expands. However, I think the expansion of the number homes and property taxes combined with continued growth in sales tax should be sufficient to support the transportation needs of our city. Just like any budget we will need to evaluate how we spend based on the income of the city each fiscal year.
What parts of the Climate Action Plan do you think need to be prioritized? And how can they be funded?
The climate action plan adopted by the City Council lays out a comprehensive approach and strategy to deal with the various challenges facing the world and our city. I believe the number one priority for us is reducing carbon dependency and to do this I will continue to support the following:
1) Ensure when new fleets of vehicles are purchased by the city are energy efficient and preferably electric vehicles as soon as possible. Obviously not all vehicles can be replaced with electric vehicles but let’s replace the ones that can be with electric vehicles.
2) Work to find funding to add additional electric vehicle charging stations. There are currently four that are planned: one near Elkins House and three in the new Howelsen Rodeo park.
3) Ensure new buildings are being built with solar power and energy efficient materials.
The city has a goal to diversify its revenue streams and reduce its dependence on sales tax revenue. How would you propose accomplishing this?
This is a hard one since there are not a lot of options for our city as it relates to tax revenue. At this time, we do not have an issue with revenue and the issues we did have were caused by the pandemic. One option I would like to explore is does it make sense to increase our reserves/rainy day fund in case we have another situation like the pandemic or financial crisis that reduced our tax revenue.
What steps should the city take to ensure that there is affordable housing now and into the future?
We need to examine the constraints that limit people with bad credit, low earners or middle-income earners that have incomes that exceed the thresholds that are applied for assistance in gaining affordable housing.
The city should also streamline the process for developers that are putting together developments that include affordable housing. I like the idea of tiered approach, with first tier set at 50% of units reserved for affordable housing and a second tier for development projects that have 25% of their units reserved for affordable housing. I also want to make sure the city streamlines the permitting process and supports the Brown Ranch development by getting the appropriate infrastructure in place so we can start getting homes built as soon as possible.
Council has prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion for a number of years. What steps do you think the city should take to move forward in this space?
There is currently an ad hoc committee for this with the city so I would like to see this committee turned into a permanent committee because that will go a long way in setting the tone that this is important to us as a city. We should continue to look for ways to find affordable housing so that we have a more diverse and equitable economic background of our citizens living in our city. An inclusive, diverse and equitable city is good for all of us and this is one of the committees I would like to be a part of if elected to City Council.
If elected, what would you do differently than those elected before you?
I am not a fan of going down the path of potentially stating negative things about people that have put themselves out there to sit on City Council. This is a big commitment and I want to thank those that sit on City Council now as well as those who have been on the council previously.
Words matter, so I will choose my words carefully and be thoughtful on how I approach complex problems. Some issues our community faces and will face will bring anxiety and passionate emotions so I believe in staying calm, listening and working with a sense of urgency to address the challenges and opportunities that have and will present themselves to City Council. I’m Daniel Gerke, and I’m asking you for your vote!
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Routt County voters will have the option to elect new school board members, city and town council members and choose whether or not to support three state ballot initiatives in the Nov. 2 election.