Council pair eye re-election bids,P&Z member to run for open seat |

Council pair eye re-election bids,P&Z member to run for open seat

Two Glenwood Springs City Council members are considering seeking re-election this fall, and a city Planning and Zoning Commission member plans to run for an open council seat.Mayor Larry Emery and council member Dave Merritt both say they are interested in running again, and P&Z member Dave Johnson wants to vie for the seat now held by Dan Richardson. Richardson isn’t seeking re-election.Emery represents Ward 2, in west Glenwood. Merritt is the council member for Ward 5, in south Glenwood. Richardson is an at-large council member.Petitions to run for council will become available at City Hall Aug. 2 and must be returned by Aug. 22.Emery said he is leaning toward running for re-election. The decision depends on whether he can continue to commit enough time to council, while balancing work and family life, he said.Even if re-elected to council, Emery still would face another vote if he wants to continue as mayor. The new council would select the mayor. Emery said he probably would want to gauge the level of support from others on council before deciding whether to seek another term as mayor. Merritt said he is seriously considering running again.”It’s a big time commitment, but I’ve got time,” he said.He’s driven partly by a desire to get in-town bus service restored to his ward. Council cut it earlier this year for budget reasons.”Hopefully I can work to get that back,” he said.Another looming issue in town is the possible rerouting of Highway 82. Council has discussed possibly asking voters whether they would support building a bypass along the railroad corridor near the Roaring Fork River. Merritt said he supports a two-lane route there.”I think that it can be done; it can be done with environmental sensitivity. We can preserve the values that we have there.”Emery said while council may consider asking voters about the corridor, the city can’t dictate where the highway should be relocated. The Colorado Department of Transportation will require an environmental impact statement to identify options and which are most favorable, and the city may be able to help influence the final decision by the state at that time, he said.Emery expects bus service to be discussed during this year’s election campaign. He supported the cutbacks, and notes that the opening of the Glenwood Meadows commercial project will help boost sales tax revenues for the service.Emery said another campaign issue this fall could be whether the city should continue to contract with the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association to administer its tourism marketing program. The city and tourism industry have been raising questions about the chamber’s handling of the program.Yet another issue could be what policy the city should have regarding requests from developments outside the city to tap into water and sewer lines, Emery said. The city may end up considering such a request for a residential development proposed for Bershenyi Ranch up Four Mile Road.Johnson said he decided to pursue a run for council after being encouraged by others to do so. He sees it as the next logical step after serving some five years on P&Z. His children also are older so he has more time to commit, he said.”I think I just want to do it to just see where we can go with the council and with the town,” he said.After working about 25 years at the post office downtown, he believes he’s well attuned to what Glenwood’s residents think about city issues.”Working down here, you get to talk to a lot of people every day,” he said.He said he’s not running to push any particular issue.”I’m not exactly built that way. I’m more, let’s see what we’ve got to work on today,” he said.”I know what the issues are out there. Traffic is number one I think on everybody’s list.””I think public transportation is a pretty essential key to the transportation problems we do have here, at least for the townfolk to get around.”He thinks it’s a good goal to seek more public transportation funding.”I think if you make something available and consistent you’ll get a better percentage of people using it.”He thinks further study should occur before a decision is made on whether it’s worth giving up some of the river corridor for a bypass.As the city seeks consensus on issues such as the bypass, Johnson offers some experience in consensus-building. He served on the Resource Advisory Council for the Bureau of Land Management, and helped find consensus among a diverse group of people in helping the agency rewrite its grazing rules.Emery said he thinks Johnson would be a great council member. Planning and zoning experience is helpful on council, he said. In addition, he believes Johnson takes a fair look at issues.”I think he weighs the facts and makes a good decision on things, and that’s just the thing we need,” Emery said.It’s still early, but at this point Emery, Merritt and Johnson know of no prospective opponents for the three open seats. But they wouldn’t mind having other candidates emerge for the coming election.”I think an exchange of ideas is good, to see where people are coming from,” Merritt said.Said Emery, “A little opposition never hurts anybody. It’s probably healthy to have a couple people out there vying for it.”Two years ago, Chris McGovern agreed to be a write-in candidate when no one else stepped forward to run for an open council seat. Emery said it’s hard to get candidates for a job that requires a lot of time and effort and offers little pay.Said Johnson, “I wish we would get more involvement from folks, but I know we’re all busy. But we’ll see, I guess.”Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext.

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