City council candidates promise fresh start at candidate forum
The 11 community members running for Steamboat Springs City Council weighed in on the city’s bear problems, marijuana rules, government transparency and much more Thursday in front of a large audience at the Steamboat Grand.
While the candidates touted their diverse backgrounds, many stuck to a common theme:
“It’s time for change on the city council, and I’m going to be the one to bring it.”
All the candidates promised to bring fresh approaches to the new council, which will be tasked with hiring a new city manager and city attorney right off the bat.
They also weighed in on several other issues.
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The five community members running in District 1 were asked whether the city should allow more retail marijuana stores and change its regulations to allow the stores in busier parts of town.
Patrick Slowey said he would not support such a change.
“I guess I’m old-fashioned,” he said. “I don’t want to see it expand, quite frankly.”
All the other candidates left the door open to the idea, but some were more willing to allow growth in the industry than others.
Candidate Rich Levy said he didn’t see marijuana as being any worse than alcohol.
“It should be regulated in the same fashion,” he said.
He said the marijuana industry should be a free market enterprise.
Tim Kirkpatrick said the marijuana industry is in its infancy, and he would be reluctant to support allowing it to grow here before taking time to evaluate its impact.
Robin Crossan said the city needs to respect the business owners who want to be involved in the marijuana industry, but the city should look to the community to ask and help determine if allowing the number of stores to grow is in the city’s best interest.
And Mike Shaler said Colorado law permits the sale of marijuana, and the city needs to create a level playing field for all its businesses.
The current City Council has been satisfied with the number of marijuana stores and has not supported allowing the industry to grow beyond the three existing retail licenses.
District 3 candidates Heather Sloop and Erin Walker had different views of how to address the city’s growing bear problem.
Asked whether the city has done enough to keep bears out of trash cans and trouble, Sloop suggested it has not.
She said more tickets should be written for residents who violate trash rules, and there should be more community education in the form of a “fed bear is a dead bear” campaign.
“We are bumper sticker campaign people,” Sloop said.
Walker said it was time for more research on the issue, and as city councilwoman, she would ask city staff to evaluate the city’s response to the problem and come up with additional solutions.
District 2 candidates Jason Lacy and Michael Buccino were asked how they would work to improve the council’s effectiveness in the eyes of the community.
“As a city council, we need to make a real and sincere effort for public outreach on all issues,” Lacy said, adding he would want to do more events such as the coffee with council series started by current councilman Scott Ford. “We need to go beyond work sessions. …We also need to collaborate with our community partners in a better way.”
Buccino also stressed better communication with constituents and said he would not want to rely on a public comment system that allows only one-way communication with the council at meetings.
“I want to ask you questions,” he said.
He said he would encourage community members to call him and let him know how the council was doing.
At-large candidates Chuck McConnell and Kathi Meyer were asked about the recent controversy surrounding the city’s decision not to release reports from the recent internal police investigation.
Meyer said there was unfinished business.
“As I talk to people when I’m running, people want closure on this,” she said. “I think the city can do some sort of executive report.”
McConnell said it was was unconscionable the council has not had a chance to look at all the reports.
“I have to think there are things in that report that would have an opportunity to help us with policing policy downstream so we don’t get into the issues we got into before,” he said.
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A Steamboat Springs local for 25 years and avid bike rider for more than 40, Butch Boucher previously had only one common surgery in his lifetime, and not even any stitches, before he crashed onto…