Briones is Steamboat’s first person of color on Council |

Briones is Steamboat’s first person of color on Council

Eddie Briones sits next to his wife, Sarah Briones, and their dog Lincoln. Eddie is the first person of color elected to Steamboat Springs City Council. l Eddie Briones/ Courtesy photo

Eddie Briones has a similar story to many in Steamboat Springs: come for the winter, stay for the summer, and eventually never leave.

The famous “Yampa Valley Curse,” a local trope describing when visitors come to the Yampa Valley for a vacation or a season and fall so in love with the area that they never leave.

“This place is pretty awesome” Briones said.

After moving to town in 1996 to work at a ski shop, Briones stayed for three years, then moved around the country for another job, then moved back to Steamboat in 2000 and never left.

Two decades later, Briones noticed a series of issues in the city he calls home: skyrocketing housing costs, a massive influx of wealthy visitors and the disappearing of what was once a humble ski town for young adults to work a service job and afford a lifestyle of skiing all the time.

“I think it had something to do with the way the town was going and the way it was changing,” Briones said. “I was one of those grumpy locals who was complaining, and I figured why not do something about it instead of just complaining?”

Briones opted to run for the at-large Steamboat Springs City Council position in 2021, decking the city out in black and yellow “Ed for city council” signs, meeting with various groups and campaigning with the slogan “keepin’ it Steamboat.”

For Briones, the “keepin’ it Steamboat” tagline represented keeping the city’s character and traditions alive while allowing responsible growth.

“We’re not an Aspen, were not a Vail, were not a Telluride, we’re Steamboat,” Briones said. “We have ski bums mixing with ranchers. That’s our history.”

When he first moved to town in 1996, Briones felt like he knew everyone in the community and had a genuine connection with those around him. As the years have gone on, Briones felt like the city had become too glamorous and was starting to feel like other ski towns, rather than its own unique city with historic charm and friendly locals.

“We used to not be the ritzy, glamorous type like Vail or Aspen, but I think we’re starting to go there,” Briones said. “You’re not going to be able to stop growth or stop people from coming here, but you can do it smartly.”

As a council member, Briones has prioritized affordable housing, climate action and short-term rental regulation.

After returning to Steamboat, Briones worked for a property management company, then climbed the ranks at Mt. Werner Water & Sanitation District. He started as a low-ranking plumber, then was promoted to field operations supervisor, which he attributes to his mechanical skills and problem-solving ability.

“This job is awesome,” Briones said. “It’s purposeful, and I get to help people in different ways than on city council.”

Briones, who is Filipino, is also the city’s first person of color on city council. He grew up in New Jersey, but both of his parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines.

Though Briones said his ethnicity has not made life difficult for him in Steamboat, he was previously called a racial slur in another state, and notices his difference in predominately white Routt County.

“My friends don’t treat me any differently and they don’t look at me any different, but this is definitely a predominately white town,” Briones said.

Sarah Briones, Eddie’s wife of two years, said and the couples’ friend group have always thought of Briones as “the mayor of Steamboat,” because of how many people he knows in the community and how much he cares about making the city better.

“He’s just a genuine, personable, fun human being,” Sarah Briones said.

Sarah, who ran Eddie’s campaign, said she was hesitant about the process because of the messiness politics can bring. But she ultimately felt it was worth it when the two read results and discovered Briones won the seat.

“I think we need more people like Eddie and the council members that are there now,” Sarah Briones said.

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