Q. & A. with Robin Crossan, Steamboat Springs City Council, District 1 candidate
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council, District 1
Occupation: Guest services Ambassador supervisor, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. (winter), SkyWest Airlines
Prior political experience: Steamboat School RE2 School Board member, president, 2007-2011, member 2011-2015; Education Fund Board president, vice president, capital commission member, 2002-2007.
Hometown: Unionville/Chadds Ford, Pennyslvania
Years in Steamboat: 14
Family: Husband, Barry (golfer, gondola singles line ticket checker), son, Brant, graduate LWS, U.S. Ski Cross Team
Civic involvement: Steamboat Springs School Board; Rally in the Valley Golf Tournament (Steamboat’s Rally for the Cure) coordinator; Education Fund Board; PIC; SAC; past board member of Young Life, Come Let’s Dance
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?
A. Confidence in city council was rated 40 percent poor. Let’s involve our city staff and community in selecting the new city manager and work toward a shared vision, goals and plan to move our city forward. Let’s require an annual “State of the City” (like a report card) to our community so everyone knows what’s good, not so good and what we have learned over the past year. By scheduling open work sessions, we will have meaningful conversation amongst council members, manager and staff to work together through pending issues. Minimizing the time spent in executive session shows transparency. My experience eight years ago when elected to school board was similar to what we are facing today with city council. We worked together then, and I have the energy and experience to work with both new seated members of council to move forward now.
Q. 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. The bus system failed our community at the beginning of last winter season. Let’s not allow that to happen again. It is critical for our tourists, workers and businesses alike. When services are requested in our community, someone or something needs to pay for it. By working with our business community, we are all smart enough people to talk through and find a solution that works. What other creative ideas need to be discussed to improve our transit system, i.e. winter service every 20 minutes, summer service every 30 minutes, direct routes from downtown to the mountain in winter, upkeep of vehicles, more or less routes, riders pay for the service or not? All these and many more ideas need to be reviewed with our community before a decision could be made on who “pays” for this vital service in our community.
Q. 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. Yes, the city can help promote affordable/workforce housing by helping build public/private partnerships. We can review city codes and make corrections when necessary to make it more desirable for an investor to build. We need to be open-minded to growth, both large and small, building up and out, small lot subdivisions and rental units for our seasonal workers and low-income families. We need to think creatively for special zoning. How could the city help jumpstart one or two projects per year? Let’s work together to focus on this 30-plus year subject.
Q. 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. When a community, in this case city council, tasks a citizens committee of any sort to make a recommendation on any subject with a clear set of goals, it is important to be ready to accept the recommendation of the committee. If I were a sitting member on city council, I would accept the recommendation of the citizens group and work with the county and respective staffs to move to the next phase of the project.
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. By releasing the report, the community would know what issues were identified in the investigation and be able to talk about how to move forward. This would aid the interview committee tasked with making a recommendation for the new police chief. Knowing what specific issues were identified will help mold questions to the candidates. As much as legally possible from that report should be released.
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. The council’s role in the wake of this investigation is to direct city staff to do what is legally right even if it is unbecoming to our city. If this means releasing the balance of the report, then release it. Only then can council work with our new city manager, new police chief and staff to rebuild and ultimately regain the public’s trust. Stronger communication between staff and our community could be a building block to start this process. City council can lead by example (transparency, communication, listening to our community, respecting our staff) to help aid in this process.
Q. 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. Honestly, I cannot say this is or is not the right time to do this. Our community values our quality of life — recreational opportunities and amenities at 91 percent (excellent or good) in our community survey. When our community places this much importance on our amenities, we do need to have community involvement to determine if a parks and recreational district is the proper way to fund our amenities. Private/public partnerships and grants should also be looked at as part of the whole conversation.
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. Speaking with five current or past city council members gave me an interesting cross section of council management styles including different approaches to find solutions to the responsibilities a city council member. The three most important takeaways from those conversations were: commit the time to learn from everyone — be a “sponge” and soak up as much information as possible — listen first; be prepared for every council meeting — read up, ask questions and come to every meeting ready to be actively involved in the conversations that evening at the city council meeting; and be respectful of each other, staff and community members.
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. An individual with previous city management experience who will immediately become a community member, work with our staff, council and community to create a progressive vision for the future would be some of the qualities I would look for. This person must be able to demonstrate their flexible management style to be able to work with a diverse council and many different personalities within our city government and community. Our manager needs to be creative to lend new approaches to old problems, a fresh set of eyes to help us look beyond the limits we have placed upon ourselves. They will be accountable to the citizens of our community by setting goals, communicating progress, reaching targets and reporting back to council and community.
Q. 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. What a great question. If I had a crystal ball to look into, I might be able to answer this question for you. The community wants our taxing structure to be set up this way. We rely on sales taxes to fund almost ”everything” our community members want to do. Partnerships and strong communication with all entities in our community (chamber, SSRC, YVMC, SSSD, Mainstreet, Arts Council, retail, real estate, construction) benefit from a strong economy, and we all have a role to play in that. As part of council, I’m sure we will look at all the funding mechanisms utilized to stimulate sales tax receipts.
Being a facilities director in New York City for Macy*s was a great experience where I learned how to interact, solicit opinions, work with a team and consistently make the best decisions possible for that organization. As a candidate, everyone asks “are you crazy? Eight years on school board and now four more?” Well, no, I’m not crazy. I have the energy and enthusiasm to continue serving the community as your representative on city council. I have been involved with rewriting policy, making mistakes and learning lessons from those mistakes, hiring two superintendents, having tough conversations in the public’s eye, not in executive session, and have found common ground on many issues. I have the experience and confidence to be a team player with our new council starting Nov. 4. It will take time, energy, much dialogue with each other, staff and community to rebuild trust and move forward. Taking the time to listen in order to help craft decisions for our future is the commitment I can make to you, the community of Steamboat Springs.
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