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Strong to head council

Split pro-tempore vote harkens of things to come

Christine Metz

The Steamboat Springs City Council appointed its new president with little discussion and a unanimous vote Tuesday, but its split vote in naming a new second-in-command testified to new, post-election divisions.

Paul Strong was appointed City Council president with little discussion and a 7-0 vote. Councilman Loui Antonucci was appointed president pro position by a closer margin, as the council split 4-3 on its vote. With sitting President Kathy Connell’s endorsement and other council members voicing support, Strong’s appointment to the highest elected position in the city was of little surprise. Who would take the president pro-tempore position, which was vacated by Strong, was less certain. At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilwoman Nancy Kramer nominated Antonucci for the position, and Strong seconded the motion.

Then, Councilman Steve Ivancie nominated newly elected District II Councilman Ken Brenner. His motion was seconded by Susan Dellinger, the council’s other newly elected member.

Antonucci came out the winner in a 4-3 vote, representing what could become a voting block in the newly elected council.

The Nov. 4 municipal election has the potential to create a 3-3 divide in the council with Strong sitting in the center.

The council’s three incumbents — Connell, Kramer and Antonucci — consistently have voted in favor of chamber of commerce funding, have not campaigned for a lodging tax, at one time agreed to take growth-control mechanisms out of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan and were in favor of a 2002 Triple Crown contract.

Brenner, Dellinger and Ivancie have spoken out against all or some of these decisions.

“As I have said before, I think there is a difference of opinion (on council), but I think that is healthy,” Strong said Tuesday night. “I am really excited about the prospects for this council in the next two years.”

In a ceremony of standing ovations and celebratory feather boas, the council said goodbye to retiring council members Arianthe Stettner and Bud Romberg and welcomed newcomers Dellinger and Brenner. In her closing remarks as the sitting president, Connell spoke of the past council’s achievements: forming partnerships with the Routt County commissioners, the expansion of the Mountain Fire Station and working to lessen the subsidy given to the Steamboat Springs Airport. Connell said the incoming council had its work cut out as it looks for ways to fund its budget, and she encouraged the diversification of businesses.

“I stand here today, and I don’t see any divisions. I see many common denominators,” Connell said. “We are wanting to do this thing for the community as a whole.”

Connell honored Stettner for her seven years of service and Romberg for his four.

Stettner and Romberg received standing ovations — and framed artwork of Steamboat landmarks — for their time on the council.


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