Arensman, Edmonds to vie for Ward 1 Glenwood Springs City Council seat
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – It appears only one of four Glenwood Springs City Council seats up for election this spring will be contested, as five candidates turned in nominating petitions by the Monday deadline.
Write-in candidates still have until 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, to declare their intent to run for either the at-large seat or one of the three ward seats to be decided, Glenwood Springs City Clerk Robin Unsworth said.
Otherwise, the lone contest in the April 5 mail ballot election will be for the Ward 1 seat between first-term incumbent Russ Arensman and retired longtime Glenwood Springs businessman Ted Edmonds.
Originally, eight prospective candidates had pulled petitions for the other open City Council seats. However, they did not turn their petitions in by the deadline, Unsworth said.
Another first-term incumbent city councilman, Dave Sturges, was the only candidate to return a nominating petition for the at-large seat.
For the Ward 3 seat being vacated by Shelley Kaup, local real estate broker Todd Leahy was the only candidate to submit a petition.
And, for the Ward 4 seat being vacated by current Mayor Bruce Christensen, local engineer Michael Gamba will be the only candidate on the ballot.
Kaup decided earlier this month not to seek re-election, and Christensen is up against term limits after serving two four-year terms on City Council.
Arensman, 53, is nearing three-and-a-half years on City Council, after first being elected in November 2007. City voters in that election approved a ballot question moving the council elections to April of odd-numbered years, rather than November, resulting in the shortened term.
“I’ve been through the learning curve, so I’m at a point where I can be fairly effective as a council person,” Arensman said. “I also believe there’s a lot of work left to be done, and some things that aren’t completed that I’d like to be a part of.”
Included among them, he said, are the ongoing downtown redevelopment talks intended to find a new home for the Glenwood Springs branch library and accommodate new Colorado Mountain College facilities, as well as establish more downtown-area parking.
“It’s something that is going to help bring more activity to the downtown,” Arensman said.
Coupled with that, he said, will be the upcoming redevelopment planning for the confluence area where the city’s wastewater treatment plant is now located. While the new plant in West Glenwood will not be completed until next year, the city should start planning now for the future use of the confluence site, Arensman said.
“It’s time that we really start moving ahead with plans for that area, which is also about strengthening the economy and getting some additional activity going in town,” he said.
Arensman works from his Glenwood Springs home as the senior writer for the Loomis Group, a public relations, marketing and advertising firm based in San Francisco.
Edmonds, 59, worked for 30 years in the travel and tourism business in Glenwood Springs and Aspen. Most of that time was with Ski.com, working to book ski tours in Aspen and at other resorts.
“Some of that business experience would be beneficial on the council,” he said.
“I’d like to see the city be a little more user- and business-friendly,” he added. “I have been approached by people who have felt like their interactions with the city have been less than satisfactory.”
Edmonds said he would also like to see a thorough review of the city budget in light of the recent economic downturn.
“I would like to see where we stand, and what we need to do to react to the current situation,” he said.
David Sturges, 69, spent more than six years on the city’s planning and zoning commission, and is finishing his first term on the council.
“I’ve been an active part of the community for a long time, and hopefully I’ve made a contribution in my first three and a half years on council,” he said. “There are a lot of things I’d like to see happen in the community, especially in the way of advance planning.”
Todd Leahy, 45, is part of the ownership group of the ReMax Select real estate agency in Glenwood Springs, and was part of A-Team Realtors prior to that.
“I’ve always had a desire to be involved in public service, and it just seemed like now was the time,” he said. “We’re facing some big issues with the confluence and traffic concerns, and I think I can bring something to the table.
“I’ve always been a big fan of downtown Glenwood, and hopefully I can bring some knowledge and history to the table as far as what people in the downtown area need,” Leahy said.
Mike Gamba, 47, makes a return to the political arena after a run for City Council in the mid-1990s. He lost in that election to incumbent Greg Jeung and said he wanted to give it some time before trying again.
“I’ve been interested in politics pretty much my whole life,” said the Glenwood Springs native. “I feel there are a lot of people with opinions about politics and issues, but they don’t do anything about it. If you want to have a say, you need to be involved.”
Gamba is president of the engineering firm Gamba and Associates, which he began with his father, Jerome Gamba, in 1990.
He said he views fiscal responsibility as a key issue facing the city.
“It’s important to have appropriate regulations in place for businesses, but we have to make sure those regulations aren’t preventing growth and/or development of businesses in Glenwood Springs,” he said. “We need a more common sense, reasonable approach to those sorts of things.”
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