Q. & A. with Tim Kirkpatrick, Steamboat Springs City Council, District 1 candidate
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council, District 1
Years in Steamboat: 17, with a few short breaks
Family: Wife, Cho, mother, Elizabeth, father, Alexander, and brothers, David and Taylor.
Civic involvement: Integrated Community, STARS, Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series
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. Restoring public trust in the city council must be one of the first issues the new council addresses immediately after the election on Nov. 3. This will start with the new council pledging to make decisions openly and publicly and this will continue with council members engaging the community on each subsequent decision. Full council transparency can only be appreciated if the city council and the city manager conduct business according to the city charter. Continued public work sessions also provide opportunities for the council to study and discuss issues and for the public to comment. While it is true that only four council members need to agree to vote affirmatively, the more that the council can work to build deeper consensus, the more the public perception of council will improve.
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. Having a reliable bus service available to residents is critical for the businesses and schools in Steamboat. However, if citizens can’t count on the schedule, it won’t be used at the volume it should. I support more communication between local business owners, Colorado Mountain College, the ski resort and local government to address the proper funding of the service. This conversation about a reliable bus service should be held in conjunction with a discussion about local parking issues, as the two topics both contribute to local congestion on the streets.
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?
The city must play a role in creating affordable rental housing for the human infrastructure of Steamboat. I support creating incentives for builders and developers to create safe, nearby and affordable rental housing and I support continued education for first-time homebuyers. Many of the folks who desperately need affordable rental housing are the same folks who turn Steamboat on in the morning, shut it off at night to ensure that the town is ready for the next day. We must make a commitment to the workforce to guarantee our town’s continuous operation. Many mountain communities have moved affordable housing farther out of town. Steamboat has a great opportunity to buck this system by supporting safe, nearby affordable housing for our local workforce.
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. Yes — among the options presented by the citizens committee, I support the construction of a shared law enforcement facility, as it is the best option for use of these public funds. As Steamboat continues to grow on the west side of town, the proposed location takes into account future residential development. Furthermore, a shared facility promotes interagency communication; citizens will benefit when local law enforcement agencies improve their communication. I also appreciate the process by which the plan was formulated — involving citizens in the decision making improves transparency and gives the community a voice.
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. No — the public has paid for the investigation and deserves to see the findings as such. I understand the hesitancy to reveal personnel matters, but I support having a neutral party, perhaps a retired judge, read through the Nuanes reports and redact the names of current personnel. This version should subsequently be made available for review by the citizens whose tax money paid for it. The only way that we, as a community, can move beyond this controversy is to know what happened so that we can make the necessary changes to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Keeping the reports private perpetuates the notion that local government and law enforcement officials are in cahoots to keep the citizens in the dark. As a community, we are ready to learn from the reports and put this chapter of town history behind us.
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 city council has two main roles in the wake of the internal police investigation. The first is to provide a redacted version of the reports to the public for review and the second is to promote a community discussion as to the values we seek in a police chief. I support a community police force where law enforcement has daily interaction with citizens. I support a policy where a portion of each police shift be spent outside of the vehicle, interacting with citizens and business owners. Citizens need to feel comfortable having discussions with officers, and business owners need to have confidence in officers to mediate difficult situations. Council members need to promote more positive interaction between citizens and law enforcement officials.
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. The recent community survey reinforces how much Steamboat residents value parks and recreation and open space. Access to trails and green space is one of the factors that draws so many visitors and future locals to our town. Having said that, increasing the tax burden for residential and commercial property owners deeply concerns me. While I wholeheartedly support continuing to improve our parks, trails and recreational facilities, I would want to ensure that every possible funding option was researched before increasing the tax burden on local property owners.
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 spoken with three current or prior Steamboat council members as well as several council members from larger nationwide municipalities. The most important takeaways have been: the city council’s role is to set the policies for the city; the city manager’s role is to determine the best practices and procedures to ensure that the policy goals are met. City Councils are only effective when the members have passionate, open debate but always maintain mutual trust and respect. Council member communication must go through the appropriate channels. Public service is a privilege not to be taken lightly, and public servants need to represent the community with integrity and professionalism.
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. I would look for a city manager with integrity and a proven track record of motivating city staff to administer the policies set by city council in transparent, cost-effective and efficient manners. I would support candidates who welcome discussion prior to making decisions and then act with resolve once decisions are made. While council members are temporary city servants, the city manager should be selected with long-term stability in mind.
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. I support increased communication between city council and local business owners in order to grow total sales within the city. Increasing total city sales helps both the businesses and the city as a whole; council members have a vested interest in seeing the local business climate continue to improve. We are so fortunate to have Colorado Mountain College as a local resource. I strongly believe in the value of continuing education for employers and employees. The CMC classes offer students great opportunities to learn about industry best practices, get advanced certifications and network with like-minded professionals. I have personally hired several CMC students, and I have been so impressed with their knowledge and passion. Total sales will be increased with informed business leaders and educated staff members.
I have seen a lot of changes over the past 17 years in Steamboat, and while I’m pleased with most of the changes, I’m certain we would all agree that there is room for improvement. I am excited to participate in this improvement. I have no ties to any political establishments, and I have not accepted any campaign donations. The only special interest I represent is the greater good of our community. With your vote, I make the following pledges: to be a careful listener; to conduct council business diligently and openly; to be reasonable and thoughtful while making every decision; to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions; to support smart development that addresses the local need for safe, nearby and affordable rental housing; and to hold myself to such a standard to restore public trust in local government.
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