Stahoviak won’t seek a 6th term as county commissioner

Tom Ross
Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak announced Wednesday that she won't seek a sixth term in office next fall. Stahoviak has represented South Routt on the Board of County Commissioners since 1993.
John F. Russell

— Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak’s announcement that she would not seek a sixth term in office in 2012 was less than 15 minutes old when two Republican hopefuls announced their candidacies to fill the District 1 seat.

First in line to replace Stahoviak are former Olympic downhill ski racer and businessman Jim “Moose” Barrows and South Routt rancher and Rock Creek Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brita Horn.

Stahoviak told the Routt County Republican Central Committee during a noon meeting Wednesday that when she last ran for office in 2008 she was fairly certain it would be her last four-year term in office.

“In January 2013, I will have served as a county commissioner for 20 years, and I truly think it will be time for someone else to take on that responsibility,” Stahoviak said. “I truly appreciated and enjoyed my service to citizens of Routt and promise you I’ll continue to do the same for the next 14 months. But after that, it’s time for home and family.”

Routt County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Diane Mitsch Bush praised Stahoviak’s work ethic on Wednesday.

“No one works as hard for the people as Nancy Stahoviak,” said Mitsch Bush, a Democrat who represents Steamboat Springs. “You can always count on Nancy to be extremely well prepared. I value that because it’s crucial. And her institutional memory is unparalleled.”

Stahoviak’s district wraps around three sides of Steamboat Springs and extends south through Oak Creek and Yampa and all the way to the Eagle County line. Before being elected county commissioner, she served as a town trustee in Oak Creek for two years, mayor for two years and town treasurer for five years. She has lived in Oak Creek for 35 years.

Fellow County Commissioner Doug Monger also praised Stahoviak’s preparation but ventured that her greatest contribution was probably made while working on issues that made a difference in the lives of families.

“Her passion for human issues has always been her strength, including her work on affordable housing, quality child care, workforce issues and more directly her support of Routt County employees,” Monger said. “Routt County as we know it today has a lot of Nancy’s passions embedded in its look and feel.”

Horn and her family operate a large cattle ranch in extreme South Routt County on County Road 4, not far from McCoy.

Although she lives in Routt County and her two teenage daughters attend Soroco High School in Oak Creek, Horn said she has been chief of the Rock Creek Volunteer Fire Department with a district that stretches from Burns to Radium in Eagle County. She will have served as chief for four years as of December. Horn also keeps a busy schedule as a paid part-time EMT with the Eagle County Ambulance Department.

She became a member of the Routt County Planning Commission this year and said she has become immersed in the expanding activity in energy exploration here.

“I want to make sure we do it the right way,” Horn said. “I want to be a listener and follow through on what people tell me.”

Barrows is a native of Steamboat Springs and a 1996 inductee into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. A Realtor with Prudential Steamboat Realty, he lives on rural acreage on Routt County Road 14. Barrows dominated downhill racers in the Rocky Mountain Division during his youth and went on to ski for the University of Colorado. He gained notoriety for a dramatic fall during the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, and he went on to finish a business degree at Denver University.

He has continued to work in the ski industry and organized many fundraisers to generate scholarship money for junior skiers.

“I can’t take the place, but (I can) fill the seat … that Nancy has so ably taken care of the last few years in District 1,” Barrows told fellow Republicans during Wednesday’s meeting. “Given the political and the election cycle we just went through and when you look at all the things we’re going through, I think it’s time for someone with some heritage and some conservative views to continue that conservative feel. I’m stepping up and announcing I’ll run one year hence from now.”

During her tenure as county commissioner, Stahoviak endured two medical crises that required lengthy convalescences. She resumed her duties with the county remotely from medical care facilities as soon as she could participate in lengthy conference calls.

County Manager Tom Sullivan said Stahoviak’s decision not to seek another term in office held a silver lining.

“On a personal note I guess the best thing about her retirement will be that I will be able to refer to her as a friend rather than one of my bosses,” Sullivan said.

Stahoviak has served on a number of state, regional and local boards over her 30-year career in public service.

According to her bio on the Routt County website, Stahoviak’s current boards and committees include:

  • Colorado Rural Workforce Development Consortium Board
  • Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board
  • South Routt Community Center Board
  • First Impressions Child Care and Early Childhood Education Board
  • Steamboat Springs Economic Development Council
  • South Routt Early Learning Center Board
  • Routt County Economic Development Cooperative
  • Board of Directors for Northwest Options for Long Term Care; and Yampa Valley Recycles

In 2008, the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. honored Stahoviak with its annual Hazie Werner Award for Excellence. In December 2009 she was given the distinguished service award by Colorado Counties Inc. for her longtime service to Northwest Colorado.

Over the course of five elections, only once — in 2004 — has Stahoviak faced an opponent. She was elected that year with 72 percent of the vote.

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