Candidate Q&A: David Baldinger Jr.
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.
David Baldinger Jr. is running for Steamboat Springs City Council District 1.
Why are you running for City Council?
I am a leader with experience for Steamboat Springs’ future. I was raised in Steamboat and am a product of Steamboat’s pre-K through 12th grade school system. I am also a graduate of Dartmouth College with degrees in environmental studies and English and hold a certificate from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. I was instrumental in the formation of the Steamboat Ski Base Area Redevelopment Authority. I hold the distinction of serving the city of Steamboat as an appointed official for the past 21 years in a row, as a URRAC commissioner or City Planning commissioner. As a former alpine ski racer and coach with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and U.S. Skiing, I passionately support the sport. Currently, I serve on the SSWSC Foundation board, the City Planning Commission and numerous other community organizations. I am willing to listen and make Steamboat better, with your help.
Do you believe short-term rentals should have restrictions? If so, what specific restrictions would you support? And if not, why not?
Yes. Short-term rentals and vacation-home rentals need increased regulation. The community, City Council, planning commission and planning staff are currently attempting to formulate a comprehensive plan through the public process for the regulation of nightly rentals in general. I believe the solution to this issue will be threefold:
1) Establish new, clear policies, regulations, permits and licensing that are well managed and include strict enforcement.
2) I favor the concept of an overlay map, which takes into account historical uses, current zoning and clear regulation for short-term rentals and vacation home rentals. City planning staff is on the right track so far by customizing different levels of regulation to the diverse characteristics of Steamboat’s multiple neighborhoods.
3) Any plan that is agreed upon and implemented by City Council should be data driven, well explained and defensible to all property 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?
The city’s Climate Action Plan and the Transportation and Mobility Plan, if implemented on the recommended timelines, can and will make a significant dent in our carbon footprint as a community. I support them both, starting with the “low hanging fruit” recommended by community members in the City Transportation and Mobility Plan already adopted.
Examples are carpooling, complete streets (sidewalks and trails built adjacent to streets), increased pedestrian and bike mobility and circulation routes, and elimination of unnecessary parent drop-offs by encouraging children to travel to and from schools by bus. Seeing hundreds of redundant cars each morning and afternoon driving in circles to schools is not efficient. Sustainable funding, which we already have, is not necessarily the problem.
Transformation of habits is the problem. In short, multimodal transport in the form of less car trips, more bus rides and trails for bikes and pedestrians will provide this solution.
What parts of the Climate Action Plan do you think need to be prioritized? And how can they be funded?
I think all of the six sectors of the Climate Action Plan need to work in concert with each other to ultimately complete the strategies and actions, so prioritization is a difficult challenge for our community. Citizens need to read this plan and weigh in. I promise to listen. The plan is complex but achievable. All sectors of the plan are interdependent on each other to achieve the goals and will have to work in parallel. The city and citizens have a role and responsibility in all six sectors of the Climate Action Plan, which I support.
Funding for the Climate Action plan will need to come from a variety of different sources, and having the plan in place positions the city, county and private-sector partners well to pursue external funding sources, such as state and federal grants.
The city has a goal to diversify its revenue streams and reduce its dependence on sales tax revenue. How would you propose accomplishing this?
I am not sure if there is clear community consensus on whether additional tax revenue sources, such as property taxes, should be actively pursued to diversify the city’s current tax revenues and structure. Looking for money from taxpayers is only popular when a defined purpose is identified. City Council can put a measure on the ballot, but, ultimately, the citizen voters will decide.
Past city tax committees commissioned by City Council have identified and predicted that citizens will support new taxes only if they have a defined, limited and specific purpose. A good past example is the 2A Accommodations Tax, which has been used for several different purposes and was widely supported. It is also my suspicion that, if polled, many community members would support further taxes only for affordable and workforce housing, which is clearly the most serious issue currently facing the community.
What steps should the city take to ensure that there is affordable housing now and into the future?
Affordable workforce/local housing is the most pressing challenge that faces our community. Now, and in the future, the city of Steamboat needs to be the key partner with the Yampa Valley Housing Authority to tackle and eventually solve this growing problem that is at a crisis point. The most obvious opportunity for our city is the recent gift of the over-500-acre Brown Ranch Property adjacent to the current city limits in west Steamboat that needs to be planned and annexed as soon as possible.
With the Brown property now in the capable hands of the Housing Authority, the next City Council will need to take a hands-on, proactive approach to streamlining the path through the city approval process to hopefully deliver a variety of housing types 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?
I support the current City Council’s vision statement: “To preserve our past while assuring an economically, culturally and environmentally sustainable future.” And to promote the mission that “we plan, partner and provide superior services and a safe environment in our thriving, authentic community.” I support the same values that the current City Council affirmed in 2020: “Friendliness, Integrity, Respect, Stewardship, Teamwork.” In the diversity, equity and inclusion space, I also support a more racially, nonbiased and diverse Steamboat.
Many of us want more diversity but are unsure how to achieve our goals. I think equality in housing opportunity equity is the fastest path to equality and inclusion in mountain communities, especially in Steamboat. In short, our community should encourage policies that do not discriminate or consider ethnicity, age, national origin, sexual orientation, cultural identity, assigned sex, gender identity or other labels.
If elected, what would you do differently than those elected before you?
Let’s be honest about what a City Council member should be. Most importantly, they should be qualified and experienced. They next need to understand and become teammates with their fellow elected officials. They then have to listen to the pulse of their community on the issues.
Finance and budget, community direction and character, housing, planning, transportation, public health and safety, public works, parks, recreation, trails, new development proposals, historic preservation, long-term planning, relations with state, county and utility providers, special districts, new and older taxes, and the like. I am one of those that think that my local experience and service can make a difference for you, your family and our community.
My difference from others is that I might take a different path than those elected before me but only by listening, having concern and then building consensus for Steamboat.
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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.