Yampa will have contested mayor’s race in April
Yampa has a contested election for mayor coming up April 5 with two of the town’s current council members running for the seat.
The candidates are Yampa Mayor Jeff Drust, who has been a part of the five-member council since 2007, and Trustee Stacey Geilert, who was appointed in 2020.
In Yampa, the mayor serves to lead the twice-monthly town council meetings. With the rest of council, the mayor helps make decisions on broad issues like the budget, staff hires and other town investments.
Each candidate has talked about managing growth inside Yampa town limits, the smallest municipality in Routt County.
According to the 2020 Census, Yampa actually lost about 7% of its population over the last decade despite the county as a whole increasing by nearly 6%. Yampa’s population is now about 340 people, the census found.
Yampa Town Clerk Sheila Symons said the town will host a meet-and-greet with the two candidates at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, in the downstairs area of town hall. The current plan for the event will have each candidate make an opening statement, in addition to taking questions from the audience.
Drust was appointed mayor when the position opened up in 2020, but he has been following the council’s work since before he joined the body.
“I sat in the audience for probably a year before I got on the town board,” Drust said. “There was just a lot going on and I figured it was a good time to (seek office).”
Moving forward, Drust said the town needs to find a way to secure more tax dollars, hopefully by adding another business or two. But the town’s history is Yampa’s greatest asset in his mind, and growth needs to fit with that.
“Yampa has a real rich history and that is our asset,” Drust said. “It could bring some very clean money into Yampa if we develop that more.”
He pointed to historic places like Antler’s Café and Bar and Montgomery’s General Merchandise as businesses that have a certain charm that is unique to Yampa. Growth in town is inevitable, but Drust said he believes there is an opportunity to control it.
“It’s for the love of Yampa more than anything else,” Drust said about why he is running for mayor. “We don’t get paid.”
Without growth, Geilert said she worries Yampa won’t be viable in 50 to 100 years, so she is running for mayor to help control that growth.
“We do need to have some managed growth,” Geilert said. “Our responsibility as the mayor and as our town board members is to make sure the town is set up for the future.”
Geilert said she sees Yampa largely as a bedroom community for larger job centers in Steamboat and Vail, but it also has great historical value that she believes needs to be maintained.
“We have a quaintness to Yampa that we really are trying to keep,” Geilert said.
She said Yampa needs to ensure that historic legacy isn’t lost, but housing issues are encroaching on Yampa as well, and they cannot be ignored. Geilert said there are places in town that could increase the housing stock in South Routt.
“It’s scary to think that our town could not be here in 50 years if it’s not taken care of properly,” Geilert said. “It’s a great little town … a town that deserves to — dare I say — come out of the 1990s and come into the 2020s.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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