A divided council airs out differences | PostIndependent.com

A divided council airs out differences

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Contentious issues such as Red Feather Ridge and whether to borrow $12 million for recreational amenities have not only divided the city, they’ve divided City Council.

In an attempt to heal some of the discord among the city board, members aired some of their differences Wednesday evening during a strategic planning meeting at the Community Center.

By the end of the meeting, council members expressed relief that the issues were out in the open.

One of the main complaints brought up by Councilman Rick Davis was that some members of council failed to support decisions made by the seven-member council, no matter what side the member voted on.

“I think at times this council has been dysfunctional,” Davis said. “What we’ve failed to do is, once a decision is made, to get behind it 100 percent. That’s my single biggest gripe with this council.”

Davis and others on council – including Mayor Don Vanderhoof and councilmen Don Gillespie and Larry Emery – contend that once an issue has been debated and voted upon, council members should abide by and publicly support that decision, no matter what their personal feelings are.

“If council makes a decision, even if it goes to a public vote, members of council should go with council’s decision,” Emery said.

City Councilman Dan Richardson said that even though Davis didn’t allude to anyone specifically, he felt like the fingers were all pointed at him.

Davis argued that it wasn’t necessary to get into specifics and that a general discussion on the matter would suffice, but Richardson insisted that his fellow council members cite specifics and get the issues into the open.

“Don’s at the point where he won’t even look me in the eye,” Richardson said of Mayor Vanderhoof.

One specific incident that apparently upset some members of council was when Richardson participated on the anti-Red Feather Ridge side of a debate held May 29, after council had approved the development but before it was voted on by city residents.

Richardson defended his role in the debate, saying he feels he’s only expressed his personal opinions when issues are still unresolved and not yet voted upon. Once the Red Feather Ridge question was put to voters, he felt it was once again an open topic of discussion.

“I was elected to voice my own opinions,” Richardson said. “If council hasn’t made a decision, I’m going to do all I can to express my opinion.”

City manager Mike Copp suggested that divisiveness in council can be counterproductive for the morale of city workers.

“I think one thing that has to be worked out is the council’s attitude toward each other,” Copp said. “It may not be nice, but a respectful relationship is necessary.”

“At times it can be discouraging at the staff level,” he added.

Richardson also said he’s been frustrated that his colleagues on council seem to become upset with some of his actions, but neglect to tell him about their indignation.

By the end of the discussion, Richardson said he was glad some of council’s issues with him were out on the table, because he “dreaded going to meetings.”

Now council can begin to work out its differences and mend relationships, members agreed.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511


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