Council candidates clash |

Council candidates clash

Brandon Gee

— This year’s City Council election could directly impact the future development of 700 acres west of downtown Steamboat Springs.

At a Wednesday night forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Routt County, two candidates for Steamboat Springs City Council presented clearly different views about how much city involvement and regulation should occur in the Steamboat 700 development, which could include more than 2,000 new homes in an area that likely will be incorporated into city limits, or annexed.

In the race for the four-year District 1 council seat, incumbent City Council President Susan Dellinger said the Steamboat 700 annexation would be the No. 1 task for the next City Council, and said the city needs to take a strong role in how that project moves forward.

“There is a ton of work that needs to go through to make sure the community gets what it needs,” Dellinger said.

Scott Myller, an architect and Steamboat Springs Planning Commission member who is challenging Dellinger for a District 1 seat, said the city needs to be more trusting of private developers – a theme in his comments throughout the forum.

“How much are we going to entangle this person who wants to meet our needs?” Myller asked, noting that city plans have identified the west of Steamboat area as the location for growth to occur. “Now there’s someone here who wants to do it. Let’s let them do it.”

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Dellinger said that is too lax an approach to take.

“It is an entirely new town,” Dellinger said. “I am uncomfortable that we would allow something to happen without thorough public input.”

On the issue of historic preservation, incumbent Councilwoman Karen Post – who is contesting business owner Jon Quinn for the four-year District 3 seat – defended a recent City Council moratorium banning the demolition of structures more than 50 years old. Post said that because the city’s original historic preservation ordinance was developed with no community input, council is simply asking for a “time out” to revisit the ordinance.

“I’ve heard people talk about pulling in community voices, and that’s exactly what we’re dong,” Post said. “We want the community to discuss what they want.”

Quinn, owner of Northwest Data Services, compared the “time out” to a method one would use to punish a child.

“I’d like to know what the residents of Old Town have done to deserve this punishment,” Quinn said. “We didn’t need a moratorium to have a discussion.”

In an election year that has seen many candidates claim they will be a voice for families, Quinn has made it the cornerstone of his campaign, believing the city is at risk of losing the working class families that give it character.

“I’m concerned that what we’re seeing is an erosion of the middle class in Steamboat Springs,” Quinn said. “We worry about the buildings more than the people who live in them.”

Post, who joined City Council last year to fill the seat vacated by former Councilman Kevin Kaminski, said she was charged with improving City Council processes. Post, a psychotherapist, joked that she has been the council’s “personal psychotherapist.”

“I came to help them with communication and teamwork,” Post said. “I’d like to finish what we’ve started putting into practice.”

In the other District 3 race, for a two-year term, candidates Vince Arroyo and Walter Magill also focused on different issues. Arroyo stressed the need to improve communication between government and residents to meet the increasing demands on the community. Arroyo said now is the time to solve growing traffic problems in Steamboat.

“This has been an issue for over 30 years,” Arroyo said. “It’s time to put it out to pasture and solve the problem.”

Magill expressed a general dissatisfaction with the current City Council, particularly what he described as a lack of efficiency. Magill read statistics showing that the Steamboat Springs City Council meets about twice as often as councils in other mountain communities. Magill said he thinks the massive time commitment City Council requires discourages some of the best possible candidates.

“People are afraid to get involved,” Magill said. “Hopefully people would see council as something they’d like to get involved in.”

They said it

School Board candidates’ excerpts

Jerry Kozatch (District 5) on vocational education: “It has been identified very clearly over the years that not every student wants to go to college. Our view of vocational education needs to change.”

Laura Anderson (District 5) on the School Board’s role: “As a board, it’s my view that we have one employee that’s the superintendent.”

Char Rusk (District 4) on potential growth in the school district: “I do think it’s important that as we grow, we keep our schools small.”

Mike Loomis, speaking on behalf of candidate Robin Crossan (District 4): “I’ve worked with Robin on the Education Fund Board. I’ve seen her in action, and she has my full support.”

Lisa Brown (District 2) on restoring the community’s trust: “I think the way to build trust with the community again is to have the School Board focus on what the School Board’s job is.”