Oak Creek readies to elect mayor, trustees | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek readies to elect mayor, trustees

Susan Cunningham

Oak Creek voters will choose one of two mayoral candidates and three of eight trustee candidates Tuesday.

Ultimately, they will choose a direction for the town.

Those who feel the town has progressed in the past two years will look to return current Mayor Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman to office. Those who oppose Rodeman’s approach to town governance can turn to candidate Bill Norris.

Both mayoral candidates have long histories with Oak Creek and its town politics. Both have very different policies.

What follows is a look at each candidate, beginning with the incumbent, Rodeman

Cargo Rodeman

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Two years ago, Rodeman ran on a platform of “common sense” and “kindness,” with promises to clean up the police department.

“I really felt that I either had to fix it or move,” said Rodeman, who has lived in the town for 32 years. “It probably would have been a lot easier (to move).

“But I really love it here. … I love this town with all of my being, and I didn’t want to leave.”

Now, with a new police chief and officer, as well as three pages of accomplishments for her campaign flier, Rodeman said she is happy with the progress she and other town officials have made and wants to keep it going.

“I think that I’ve proven that I can successfully get these improvements (done),” Rodeman said.

Rodeman works as a clerk at the Sinclair store and as the town’s grant writer. Among her accomplishments as mayor was securing a loan for the new water treatment plant, which will be running this year and is one of the first of its type in the United States.

She also is proud of grants for other infrastructure work, including replacing a section of water pipe and installing fire hydrants, and for other town improvements, such as putting a roof over the ice hockey rink and purchasing skate park equipment, replacing water pipes and installing fire hydrants, designing the around-the-town hiking trail and beautifying and enhancing public safety on Main Street.

Rodeman said she also is proud of work to designate certain town-owned lands as parks and continuing efforts to make recycling easier. She also is happy with the town’s new police department.

Rodeman said she thinks the town should have a paid mayor or a paid town manager because of the hours involved. If that’s not an option, having a volunteer mayor and a paid grant writer position should be considered, she said.

She said she supported development of larger homes that would give more room to families with children but does not want to see the town become too big.

If elected to a second term, Rodeman said she would work to “bring the town together as a solid community that’s proud of our town and proud of what we have to offer, because there’s a lot.”

Bill Norris

Bill Norris has lived in Oak Creek for 25 years, long enough to have earned the nickname Mr. Bill.

He came to town after more than seven years as an electrician in the Marine Corps. He worked as an electrician during the day and was “Mr. Bill” on KFMU radio at night.

Now, he manages the car wash and Laundromat in town that his parents own.

Norris started working as a firefighter, later became an EMT, and has worked almost 25 years with the Oak Creek Fire Protection Division.

He also has experience with politics. His father, Charlie Norris, served on the Town Board and as mayor pro tempore. His wife, Sonja, served on the Town Board from 1998 to 2002.

Bill Norris has served as a Routt County planning commissioner for three terms after being appointed in 1997. He ran for the Oak Creek Town Board twice in the early 1980s, but lost both times.

He has kept up with Town Board meetings, and his experience with business and as a longtime resident make him a natural for mayor, he said.

Norris said he feels the town was headed in a better direction four years ago and that if he is elected mayor he will pick up where that board left off before the 2002 election.

A top issue on Norris’ list is the town’s applications for grants. In the past two years, the town has applied for numerous grants through Rodeman, who also is the town’s grant writer.

Norris said those grants are not free, as they require matching funds and future maintenance costs and that he feels some are unnecessary, such as the recent award to beautify and enhance public safety on Main Street.

On the question of whether the town should have a paid mayor, which has come up in recent town board discussions, Norris said he felt the position should stay volunteer.

“I’m out for the town, I’m not out for myself,” Norris said.

He said he felt the new police department, which was overhauled two years ago, should work more on parking, loose dogs and snow removal issues, and that there should be more communication and cooperation between town officials and others in the county and nearby towns.

Growth, he said, can be positive, as long as new subdivisions such as the Sierra View development, are done in the right way.

His background as an electrician gives him good common sense for the job, he said.

“You break it, I can fix it,” Norris said. “Now I’m into politics. You break anything up there, I can fix anything up there.”

Go vote

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who represents the South Routt County District and lives in Oak Creek, said she is pleased to see the competition for the Town Board seats.

Stahoviak served as a town trustee for about 2 1/2 years, as mayor for two years, as town treasurer for five years, and has since been a Routt County commissioner.

“The last few years have generated a lot of interest in our town government, and I think that’s a good thing,” Stahoviak said.

“I think it’s great that people are not being apathetic, that they are getting involved and that they want to be involved in town government and what’s happening.”

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com