Our view: Grown weary of politics? | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Grown weary of politics?

At issue: There is tepid interest in City Council, School Board seats. Our view: The fall November election cycle will be remembered for a dearth of political candidates. We are hopeful a younger generation will continue to take the reins. Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Jim Patterson, evening editor • Tom Ross, reporter • Beth Melton, community representative • Bob Weiss, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.  

Perhaps it’s the distaste in the mouths of many Americans over the political scene in our nation’s Capital that’s filtering down to the local level, or maybe it’s the demands placed on families in this hustling and bustling mountain resort town. Or maybe it’s just a cyclical fact of small town life. But for the first time in quite awhile Steamboat Springs is faced with a notable lack of interest in serving on public bodies.

In this election cycle, likely both Steamboat Springs City Council and Steamboat Springs School Board will have uncontested races. And that means the healthy debates that come with contested races won’t take place.

With two school board seats open in November, after veterans Sam Rush and Roger Good decided not to run for new four-year terms, there was just one new candidate to file as of Aug. 28. And with the Sept. 1 deadline to turn in petitions nearing, there was a likelihood this week, there won’t be a contest for either seat. One candidate, Katy Lee, has turned in her completed candidate petition.

School officials told Steamboat Today that two other candidates have pulled petitions to run for school board. But the first of those two picked theirs up on the first day they were available and has not returned it. The second just picked up the petition, which requires the signatures of 50 qualified voters, on Monday.

Should neither of those prospective candidates turn in their candidate petitions, the school board would be left to appoint a candidate willing to serve. As a result, the best case scenario for the school board election is that there will be two candidates who would certainly be expected to introduce themselves and their positions to the community but wouldn’t have those positions tested and challenged by an opponent.

It’s a different situation on City Council, where Peter Arnold has announced he will challenge incumbent Scott Ford for the at-large seat. However, in two of the three other races, incumbents Lisel Petis, who was originally appointed to her seat, and Kathi Meyer are running unopposed. And in the third, recent past city council member Sonja Macys has stepped up to run unopposed for the vacancy created by the pending departure of veteran Council President Walter Magill, who is term limited.

We’re aware that serving on both public bodies can be thankless.

One might think that summertime would be mellow for school board members but not in Steamboat in 2017. School board members had a difficult time fitting in a family vacation this summer as they doubled their number of meetings to come up with what they hope is the right mix of capital projects to take to the voters in the form of a bond issue and property tax increase in the fall.

School Board is also doing its best to make certain the voters know that they’ll be back seeking more millions of dollars in the near term as they seek to upgrade existing buildings and perhaps build a new school. We wouldn’t be surprised if that reality has deterred some potential candidates – it’s a lot to ask.

City Council may be more appealing than school board to would-be public servants in some ways; for years, council members have enjoyed full city health benefits. Ironically, that significant benefit will also go to the voters for approval in November.

We’re hopeful that in future election cycles, young adults like Petis, who represent the future of our community, will toss their hats into the political ring along with others who want to make a difference at the important grassroots level.

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