Q. & A. with Mike Shaler, Steamboat Springs City Council, District 1 candidate
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council, District 1
Occupation: Leadership consultant, president of the Steamboat Leadership Institute, a leadership consulting organization
Hometown: Born in Des Moines, Iowa; grew up in Upland, California
Years in Steamboat: 23 years
Family: Wife, Sheila; four adult children; four grandchildren
Civic involvement: Support for a wide band of community service organizations
Q. Two recent surveys show confidence in the city council is low in the eyes of the community and city staff. How would you work to improve the community’s confidence in the council?
The city council has demonstrated that a substantial effort must be devoted to building a strong leadership team that will articulate a clear vision for the city of Steamboat, the council must lead the change effort, which will create the future, and manage (through the city manager) the actions that will achieve that vision. This must be accomplished by balancing the effort and renewing the trust that the voters have placed in this new city council. So the three essentials that I will devote myself to, if elected, are leadership, balance and a focus on the future of Steamboat.
Is the city’s free-to-rider bus system still viable as is? If not, how should it be funded in the future and what changes should be made?
A. A functioning public transit system is integral to the functioning of Steamboat Springs. The city should continue to pursue grants and other funding to convert all buses to alternative fuels, based on the results from the ongoing alternative fuels study.
Does the city have a role to play in promoting affordable/workforce housing in the community? If so, what policies would you support as a council member to promote this type of housing?
A. The public-private partnership demonstrated in the recently approved affordable apartment complex is a model for the future. The city has demonstrated that managing a motel is not a “core competency,” so future ventures should be managed by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.
Do you support the recommendation of a citizens committee to work with Routt County to build a shared public safety facility in west Steamboat next to the county jail? Why or why not?
A. I support a full exploration of a combined city-county public safety facility. Location should be the best possible to meet the demands of both the Routt County sheriff and Steamboat Springs city police.
Q. Do you feel the city has released enough information to the public about the internal police investigation that led to the departure of the police chief and the deputy police chief? Why or why not?
A. Much more transparency is needed — 1) to fully inform the community of the status of its police force; 2) to clear the names and reputations of the very good professionals on the force who serve the citizenry; and 3) to ensure a better police force will be built for both the very near future and the long term.
Q. Some current council members have suggested the public’s trust in the police department has fallen because of the recent internal investigation that led to the departures of the police chief and the deputy police chief. What do you see as council’s role in the wake of that investigation?
A. It appears that the investigation was not conducted to inform the public — this was a large mistake, and steps should be taken to develop a report, which informs the public while protecting the names of those witnesses who gave their testimony and were assured of anonymity. But an open and clear report to the community is essential — so we can build a better police force for our city.
The city’s parks and recreation commission does not believe the city’s vast portfolio of recreational amenities is adequately funded by the city’s general fund. Is it time to create a parks and rec district with its own property levy to remove that category from the general fund?
A. If elected, I would want to see a series of options for funding our parks, not just choose yes or no on one option presented. Parks and trails are an integral part of what make Steamboat a great community and maintenance of those facilities is an important task.
Q. How many current or prior city council members did you speak with before deciding to run for office? What were the three most important take-aways you had from those conversations?
A. I have talked with several of our former city council members, and several of our current members. he three most important take-aways are leadership, balance and focus on the future of Steamboat.
Q. One of your first major jobs as a council member would be hiring a new city manager. What would you look for in a city manager?
A. Demonstrated competency as a manager; 2. great communication skills (with the members of the city council, with the people of Steamboat and with the members of the city staff; 3. ability to be an integral part of the team that governs the city; 4. a record of a high regard for transparency; 5. the skill to translate the decisions of the city council into actions by the appropriate members of the city staff.
The city’s general fund is almost entirely dependent upon sales tax revenues. Does the city do enough, too much, or not enough to stimulate sales tax receipts?
A. It is time to “dust off” the studies on alternative ways to fund the city’s operations. Relying on sales tax revenues ties the city too closely to the short-term fluctuations in the nation’s economy, as we have witnessed since 2007.
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