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Eight Carbondale council candidates speak at forum

PHILLIP YATES
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” An audience of about 50 Carbondale residents came out Wednesday night to hear the pitches of eight people who are vying for four open trustee seats on the city’s town council.

Questions posed to the candidates at the Carbondale Council Candidates Forum

covered a broad range of subjects. Those included affordable housing, building a



better relationship with the town’s Latino community and a possible Roaring Fork

Transportation Authority feeder service into the city.



However, affordable housing consumed a large part of the candidates’ answers.

Candidates Ed Cortez, John Hoffmann, Sean Keery, Barry Maggert, Frosty Merriott,

Brent Moss, Don Van Devander and Pamela Zentmyer tried to answer them to the

audience’s satisfaction at the candidate forum inside Carbondale’s town hall

Wednesday night.

All the candidates are seeking four at-large seats in the city’s April 1 election. The top

three vote-getters will earn a 4-year term on the town council, while the fourth-place

finisher will earn 2-year term. Cortez is the only incumbent seeking re-election.

Much of the first part of the forum centered around affordable housing. One proposal

currently being floated in the city is to increase the affordable housing mitigation

requirement ” or the number of deed-restricted units in a housing development ”

from 15 percent to 20 percent or more.

“What is affordable housing?” Cortez said. “To me affordable housing is a unit that

most anyone can afford. We are dealing with (housing prices) that seem so high.”

Cortez said he feels the town needs to work with Garfield County and other

municipalities for a regional housing authority.

Moss also said the town needed to partner with communities like Aspen and

companies like Aspen Skiing Company to develop affordable housing to come up

with Carbondale-centric ideas.

Van Devander said it was important to work other organizations in the valley for

affordable housing, including the county, but said town leaders needed to focus on

Carbondale first.

“Are we trying to solve a valley affordable housing issue?” Van Devander said. “Or

are we trying solve a Carbondale affordable housing issue? We need to get hard

numbers (about affordable housing) done in Carbondale.”

A question submitted to the candidates asked if there was too much affordable

housing in the town. Almost all the candidates laughed at the question.

“No, I don’t think we can have too much affordable housing here now,” Merriot said.

When asked if town employees deserve priority for affordable housing developed by

the town, many give different answers. Zentmyer said if the town takes on the

responsibility and building of affordable housing units, she said, “it would seem the

town has an obligation to pass” that on to city staff.

Candidates gave several answers about the possibility of the Roaring Fork

Transportation Authority developing feeder bus service into the city. Maggert said

such a service seems way out of scale for our town.”

“If there are people who feel it is necessary, I am behind it if tickets sales pay for it

100 percent,” Maggert said.

Candidates also answered questions about what the town could do to foster better

relations with the town’s Latino community. No one in the audience at Wednesday’s

forum seemed to be of Latino descent.

“We need to build relationships,” said Keery, offering ideas like working with the

area’s schools and nonprofits. “I don’t know if it is the town’s responsibility, but we

can definitely build better bridges.”


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