Brenner, Fielding vie for open Routt County CMC trustee seat |

Brenner, Fielding vie for open Routt County CMC trustee seat

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The Nov. 1 mail-in ballot election includes contested races for four Colorado Mountain College board of trustees seats.

In District 2, incumbent Stan Orr of Glenwood Springs is being challenged by Kathy Goudy of Carbondale.

Running for the open District 4 seat are Richard Hague of Breckenridge and Robert Taylor of Summit County. Dick Bateman, the current Summit County trustee, is term-limited.

Running for the open District 5 seat are Ken Brenner and John Fielding, both of Steamboat Springs.

In District 6, incumbent Wes Duran of Twin Lakes is being challenged by Pat Chlouber of Leadville.

Board of trustees members must reside in the county that comprises their director district, but they are elected at-large by the voters to represent the entire college district.

Today we hear from John Fielding and Ken Brenner of Routt County.

John Fielding lives in Steamboat Springs, across the street from the CMC’s Alpine campus. He is a designer, builder, entrepreneur and community service organizer. Fielding is a co-founder and treasurer of Winter Gardens Conservatory free children’s orchestra program, and the founder and director of The Harvest of Thanksgiving community service fundraiser.

Ken Brenner lives in Steamboat Springs and has served on the Steamboat Springs City Council. He is the owner of Performance Sports Medicine and is a professional coach and adjunct faculty member at CMC.

Q: What prompted you to run for a seat on the CMC board of trustees?

Brenner: I believe that I can help CMC become more fully integrated into our mountain communities. CMC has much to offer and will play an important role in the economic recovery for Northwestern Colorado. CMC can assist our K-12 public schools by increasing learning opportunities for young adults using dual enrollment options.

CMC can be a strong partner in our local economy by offering re-education and training for a 21st century workforce. CMC can be a leader in the effort to increase our telecommunications capacity and broadband infrastructure that nearly all residents and businesses rely on.

A strong public education system is the cornerstone of a great long-term economic development strategy. We are retraining our workforce for tomorrow’s jobs. Most jobs for the new economy require a technology skilled workforce. Providing that training is an opportunity for CMC.

I was on the Steamboat Springs City Council for eight years, served as president and also ran for the state senate in 2008. Public service has given me a thorough understanding of how local government, schools, business and community can work together to solve problems.

Fielding: I grew up in a family of educators, even lived in faculty housing for a couple of years at Wesleyan University when my father taught American History there. My mother retired as a second-grade teacher and my father as vice-chancellor for the state of Connecticut’s university system. Discussions of challenges in teaching kids to read and managing university budgets were common at our dinner table.

My own studies center largely around natural philosophy, particularly the relationship of the individual to society, man to nature, and life to the universe. I earn my daily bread using skills of mathematics, geometry and communication every day.

Our colleges and universities must continue to fulfill the dual role of both a center for continuation of the great traditions of Western education and a technical training ground for practical applications in the modern workplace. This emulates the American education tradition developed in the 19th Century and established in the 20th that became the model for modern education around the world.

My previous efforts to support the college’s expansion included circulating a petition signed by many hundreds of local residents to help resolve the difficulties encountered in working with the city government. During that process, I had several conversations with Dr. Perhac. In one of these, he advised me that the trustee position had become vacant and that if I were to serve in that position, I could be more helpful. In trying to be most effective in that role, I am also a candidate for the Steamboat Springs City Council, my goal being to re-establish a mutually supportive partnership.

Q: What’s your opinion about the college’s recent move toward four-year degrees?

Brenner: Northwest Colorado is very fortunate to have CMC’s four-year college opportunity to offer its residents. A baccalaureate degree is an important next step in the evolution of the CMC school system.

CMC can continue to evolve by being a strong partner for public schools, business and local government as we recover from today’s struggling economy. Now mountain communities can boast that along with a great quality of life, they can offer a complete public education experience to attract our next generation of residents.

Fielding: I am very supportive, and hope that it is the beginning of a process that will result in far greater opportunities for the CMC student and tremendous benefit to the local communities.

Q: What does CMC need to do to keep college education affordable and attainable for district residents?

Brenner: Colorado Mountain College addresses affordability with low tuition and by allowing students to stay at home and complete some or all of their college locally. My youngest son completed his first two years of college at CMC while living at home.

The CMC system is the best value in higher education in Colorado. It is on solid financial ground with virtually no debt, significant reserves (25 percent of the general fund), and I will work to keep it that way.

CMC has been responsibly managed in the past but will face the same challenges as everyone else as revenues will decrease with declining property tax and state support. I support the board’s past policy of having little or no debt and paying for new construction with cash. The college also has dozens of committees that are constantly reassessing the effectiveness of staff and programs.

In 2008 I knocked on over 26,000 doors in Northwest Colorado during my state senate campaign. I learned much about our mountain communities and understand how important CMC is to the mountain communities. I believe there is opportunity to do even more.

Fielding: CMC has been doing an excellent job in that regard, largely as a result of the support of the host communities both in the form of the property tax contributions and other helpful accommodations that each community has been able to make.

As long as this support continues and the state education department funding is adequate, we should be able to continue this success.

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