Good to the last drop: Scott Ford hosts final Coffee with Council
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Friday marked the last Coffee with Council inside Steamboat Springs’ Centennial Hall, at least for the foreseeable future, but the focus was on the Steamboat Springs City Council member behind the event whose tenure ends next week.
Council member Scott Ford has hosted the monthly gatherings since he first took office six years ago, offering an informal way for people to discuss local issues and offer feedback to the council. Resident Dennis Fisher commended Ford’s innovative efforts to make himself accessible to the public. Ford missed just one of the gatherings to go on a fishing trip in August 2014, according to a city news release.
“You will live forever in legend,” Fisher told the council member, eliciting a burst of laughter from the 15 other people sitting around a long table laden with notepads and steaming paper cups.
Fellow council members Sonja Macys, whom Ford described as his mentor, and Robin Crossan joined Friday’s gathering.
Before discussion started, Crossan handed Ford a cardboard root beer box stuffed with plastic bags. She explained it as an inside joke, referring to Ford’s work on local dog ordinances and the recent plastic bag ban. When the ban passed, Ford joked it would eliminate his supply of “dog poopy bags.” He also brews his own beer.
“So now when you’re done with your poopy bags you can put your beer in (the root beer box),” Crossan said.
Ford first joined City Council in 2013, an achievement that came as a surprise to someone with no political experience. His primary reason for running was to weigh in on the search for a site for a new police station. He ran for the District 2 seat against Kevin Kaminski, a formidable opponent whom Ford described as “the prom king and quarterback.”
“I’m like the president of the chess club,” he said.
What: Reception to honor Steamboat Springs City Council member Scott Ford
Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.
When: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12
Ford eventually won the race uncontested when Kaminski decided not to run. Ford was elected for a second term in 2017 to the two-year, at-large seat.
He described himself and Macys as “the uncooperative ones” on City Council, referring to several instances when they were the swing votes that prevented motions from passing. One of Ford’s memorable examples was his dissent to the 2018 proposed 2A sales tax. The tax, which would have funded the city’s air program, passed City Council but failed at the polls.
When council members were trying to find a place for the new police station, Ford staunchly rejected a proposed location near the Hampton Inn on the east side of Steamboat. A stalemate eventually led to the creation of a citizens group, which developed the idea of building the newly constructed combined law enforcement facility, which houses both the Steamboat Springs Police Department and Routt County Sheriff’s Office.
But his hardest moment on City Council came in 2015, when council members were evaluating former City Manager Deb Hinsvark. While Ford considered her a hard worker and savvy with finance, he said Hinsvark was not an effective manager. He made a motion to replace her.
“When I made that motion, I knew I was throwing a grenade in the middle of the room,” he said.
Silence followed, which Ford remembers as “the longest 12 seconds of my life.” Then Macys seconded the motion. Council members approved the vote, which paved the way for current City Manager Gary Suiter to take over.
“It was a catalyst for a lot of great, positive change that I think put the city of a good course,” Ford said.
As Friday’s gathering neared its end, resident Dave Miller voiced concern over the future of Coffee with Council.
“I would love to see the baton being passed,” Miller said.
Macys said council members plan to discuss ways to continue community outreach during their December retreat. One idea is to have brown bag-style meetings with a similar format as Coffee with Council.
Tuesday will be Ford’s final City Council meeting as a council member, before which city officials will hold a reception at Centennial Hall to honor his service to the community.
Before everyone left the gathering, Fisher asked Ford if the frustrations of serving on City Council — all the long nights, headaches and angry comments from members of the public — made the job worth it.
The council member did not even blink an eye before answering, “Absolutely.”
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