Oak Creek Town Board to hold election Tuesday | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek Town Board to hold election Tuesday

Austin Colbert

— On Tuesday, the Oak Creek Town Board will hold its first regular municipal election since 2010. This election cycle, three of the six board seats are up for grabs with four people in the mix for those positions.

Incumbents William "Bill" Auer, Wendy Gustafson and Kelly McElfish are looking to hold their spots on the board, while challenger Daniel J. Gosnell hopes to earn his way in. The trustee positions are four-year terms, with elections being held every other year.

The previous two elections — 2012 and 2014 — were canceled because of a lack of candidates.

The Oak Creek mayor position — a two-year term — is also open this election cycle, however, incumbent Nikki Knoebel is running unopposed. She will be entering her fourth term as mayor.

Registered voters can vote from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Oak Creek Town Hall, located at 129 Nancy Crawford Blvd. Those opting to vote via absentee ballot need to have their ballots dropped off or mailed and received by 7 p.m. Tuesday at town hall.

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Preliminary results should be available Tuesday night, though results won't be finalized until April 13.

The following features short bios of each of the four board candidates running in Tuesday's election, listed alphabetically.

William "Bill" Auer, 73

Auer has lived in Oak Creek for more than two decades. He retired after a long career in the Army and as a liquor store owner near Steamboat Ski Area. Auer first joined the Oak Creek Town Board last spring, filling an open position.

"One of the biggest reasons I want to get back on the board is to work on our utilities,” Auer said. "The water system is critical.”

Among Auer’s chief concerns is getting Oak Creek residents more involved in local government. With a background in public affairs, he has continually pushed communication between the town board and residents and has ideas of educating the town’s youth about how the system works.

"The only way we are going to do that is to get out and expose people to what's going on,” Auer said. "These kids are going to be the ones living here and running this town in 10 years.”

Daniel J. Gosnell, 58

Gosnell is a Colorado native who moved to Oak Creek in 2002. He grew up in Colorado Springs and spent much of his life working on the Front Range. Gosnell works predominantly in the construction industry, where he has a particular knack for remodeling homes and building furniture. He is also working on finishing an engineering degree at Colorado Mountain College.

"This is going to be a new step for me,” Gosnell said about possibly being on the town board. "I think I know what's wrong with the city, what needs to be fixed, and I just want to be part of the team that's going to help do it."

Gosnell said he has no background in government, but as a 14-year resident of Oak Creek, he thinks he understands the town’s needs and desires. Among his main objectives is to help grow downtown Oak Creek.

"I see what's wrong with it, and I believe I know what needs to be done to take care of it,” Gosnell said about the town. “I want to be part of that process, and that's what excites me."

Wendy Gustafson, 50

Gustafson is the longest tenured board member running for re-election this cycle. An accountant who works from home, she first joined the town board eight years ago.

"I love doing it. I love interacting with the town people,” Gustafson said. "It's one of those things where I feel like I've done a good job.”

Considering her profession, Gustafson said the town’s finances tend to be a focus for her. She also wants to make upgrading the town’s water system, in particular its meters, a priority.

“The town is still of paramount importance to me,” Gustafson said. “Living there and loving the town, my primary focus has been on whatever I can just to keep the town viable and growing."

Kelly McElfish, 43

McElfish, a Routt County resident since 1999, first joined the Oak Creek Town Board two years ago when an opening came up. She has lived in Oak Creek the past four years and works as the commercial rental manager for the Sheraton in Steamboat Springs.

"All in all, I want to continue to give back and produce and make it a place that I want my son to be raised in and make him proud to be there,” said McElfish, a single mother.

McElfish has experience with capital projects and also sees downtown revitalization as an important step going forward. With the traffic that flows through town, she thinks there is room for business growth in the community.

"I just see a lot of opportunity for us,” McElfish said. "I feel like we have the opportunity to be a place where people come and shop or eat and dine in the downtown."

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert