Group seeks new government

Residents push for mayoral leadership

Avi Salzman

— A group of concerned residents who feel as though they don’t have as much input in government as they would like are hoping to change the entire form of the city’s government.

Cesare Rosati is at the head of a small movement to turn the City Council/City Manager system into a mayoral system with a deputy mayor and five full-time City Council members.

All seven of the elected officials would be paid as full-time city employees with salaries and benefits. And at the head of the entire system would be a mayor, an entity unheard of in Steamboat Springs for nearly 30 years.

Rosati and at least four others would have to petition the residents of the city to get a vote to change the city’s charter and institute a mayor under the state constitution. He said he will first forward the idea to the City Council at its next meeting on Aug. 21. Rosati said he hopes the council will be willing to place the idea on the ballot this November.

Rosati said he thinks the mayoral form of government would make government more responsive to its constituents, placing one person at the head of the city who could serve as an important focal point for the government.

“That person could be a lightning rod,” Rosati said.

Rosati said the mayor would have to run for office on a platform and could be held to that platform by his or her constituents.

He said the substance of the electoral process would improve if there were mayoral elections in the city.

“If you have an election where you have someone running for mayor, it will congeal public opinion around the issues of the day,” Rosati said.

Rosati also said he thinks mayoral governments are more professional and would better reflect the growing needs and increasing complexity of the Steamboat community.

City Council President Kevin Bennett, however, said the city’s government is already responsive to the people and candidates must campaign about the issues that matter.

He said the mayoral government might even put the power in fewer hands than the current system.

Currently, the City Council President does have somewhat more responsibility than the rest of the council, but when it comes time to vote, the president’s opinion is worth just as much as that of the other six members.

Bennett said the people who are considering circulating the petitions may not have a real sense of how the community feels about this issue.

“I don’t think they will have the grass-roots support,” Bennett said.

City Attorney Tony Lettunich added that the trend throughout the country is toward the council/city manager system, not the mayoral system.

According to the International City/County Management Association, an average of 60 U.S. communities per year have adopted the council/manager system over the past 17 years.

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