Edmonds: Glenwood Springs tourism board should have more lodging reps
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Ted Edmonds, the challenger for the Ward 1 Glenwood Springs City Council seat, says he would like to revisit the make-up of the city’s new tourism board to restore more lodging seats.But he supports the city’s move to seek proposals from other organizations, in addition to the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, to handle tourism promotion for the city.”Certainly, putting the tourism promotion contract out to bid is an appropriate thing to do,” Edmonds said. “It’s probably not a good idea to just keep awarding it to the same organization automatically every year.”However, when City Council decided last year to remove the tourism board itself out from under the chamber and appoint a city board instead, he believes representation for one of the industry’s primary players got shorted.”This is public tax money, yes,” Edmonds said of the city’s 2.5 percent lodging tax, which funds promotion efforts to attract visitors to Glenwood Springs.”But the burden of accounting for that money rests with the lodging community,” he said. “And, out of a nine-member board, only two members are from lodging. I think that’s a little disproportionate.”Incumbent city councilman Russ Arensman, who is running against Edmonds in the April 5 mail ballot election, said the intent was to bring more accountability and public scrutiny into the process of determining how best to use those promotional dollars.”We put a fair amount of thought into the composition of the tourism board to accomplish that,” Arensman said. “One of the problems was that the [chamber-run board] had been heavily dominated by the lodging community for a number of years.”Previously, the chamber not only contracted with the city to handle promotions, it also selected and provided oversight of the board that regulated the contract.”It wasn’t that things were necessarily going badly with that arrangement,” Arensman said. “But there was a perception that it was kind of unseemly to have someone selecting their own board.”When the new city tourism board was established, City Council decided to include two representatives from tourism-related businesses located within the city, two Glenwood Springs lodging representatives, one chamber representative and four at-large city resident representatives.While at least three of the at-large representatives must have no financial interest in a lodging or tourism-related business, one still can, Arensman noted.”I think it’s a good idea to have nonlodging and nontourism people represented,” he said.Edmonds, who is retired from the tourism and travel business, agrees. But he says it’s also important to make sure the board making those decisions has expertise on the subject. “I’m OK with some citizen involvement on that board,” he said. “But it behooves us to have the best minds in that group that we can get – people who understand tourism, and are involved in it every day.”Chamber label?Edmonds said he supports the chamber and business activities in general, and said he was approached by several local business leaders asking him to run for City Council. But he denies that he was “recruited” by the chamber to run, as some have claimed.”It is an understandable but incorrect conclusion,” Edmonds responded to one question suggesting he was a “shill” for the chamber, which was posted on his public “Ted Edmonds for City Council” Facebook page.”If elected I will act independently of any outside person or organization,” Edmonds wrote in response. “If, in my opinion, the city’s tourism fund administration is not best served by the chamber, then I would vote accordingly.”Edmonds, who served on the chamber board and marketing committee in the 1990s, said some of those who encouraged him to run have chamber affiliations.”But I wouldn’t characterize them as ‘the chamber,'” he said in a separate interview. “I’m also a resident of Glenwood Springs living on Colorado Avenue, and I don’t think that I would put the interests of the business community above the interests of the community as a whole.”email@example.com
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