Here’s a snapshot of Monday night’s Glenwood Springs City Council candidate debates |

Here’s a snapshot of Monday night’s Glenwood Springs City Council candidate debates

Glenwood Springs at-large candidates for City Council Erin Zalinski and Tony Hershey.
John Stroud/Post Independent

There didn’t seem to be many hot button topics for the Glenwood Springs City Council candidates at the Monday night debates. 

The Glenwood Springs Chamber, the Post Independent and KMTS hosted the Issues and Answers City Council Candidate Forum, which allowed uncontested candidates to share some of their views, and contested candidates to have a debate. 

Uncontested candidates Marco Dehm in Ward 1 and Mitchell Weimer in Ward 4 both said they respect all that the city has accomplished in the past couple years. 

In the contested races, Charlie Willman, the incumbent for Ward 3, and opponent Sumner Schachter both seemed to have a lot of the same viewpoints, while at-large candidates Tony Hershey, the incumbent, and opponent Erin Zalinski also agreed about many topics, though less than the Ward 3 candidates.

View a video recording of the two contested races on the Post Independent’s Facebook page, or in its entirety on the KMTS Youtube channel.

The take aways

Hershey vs. Zalinski (at large)

Hershey and Zalinski had many places where they agreed, but the two places they showed a difference of opinion was in the ability of families obtaining workforce housing and a difference in the definition of decorum. 

Hershey opened with a list of votes where he opposed his fellow Council members, but was in favor of Glenwood Springs residents, like being opposed to the 480 Donegan development and closing the Glenwood Springs airport. He reminded people that he was originally voted in to help address a city-wide pothole problem. 

Tony Hershey
John Stroud/Post Independent

“Sometimes you win when you’re on the council, sometimes you lose, but I promise you that I will continue to be that voice for the minority,” Hershey said. 

Now that she has sold her TreadZ business, Zalinski is hoping to use her success in running a business to make effective change on Council. 

Zalinski said she has worked closely and has seen the reality of living paycheck to paycheck. She said she has no set agenda, but has consistent values. 

“I get priority and listen to the voices of the citizens of Glenwood Springs. I support the interests of business and the economic vibrancy that makes a community thrive,” Zalinski said. “I’d like to see priority in providing new resources to maintain our infrastructure and recreational assets. I would also like to see us look to successfully run communities for solutions to our workforce housing.”

Under the three most important issues facing Glenwood Springs, Zalinski listed sustainable growth, workforce housing and character in the way Glenwood is perceived, working with other leaders in the county, state and region. 

Hershey said the three most important issues facing Glenwood are, “streets, housing and streets.” 

“When I say streets, I mean infrastructure,” he said. “So just briefly about infrastructure, again, we can’t be a first-class community if we don’t have first-class streets.”

He said he isn’t blaming Council or even the prior Council, but streets have been ignored for 10-20 years. He said the recent Council has done a lot of work. 

Erin Zalinski
John Stroud/Post Independent

Hershey said he does not support the government giving people housing, and like Zalinski and Willman mentioned, the city is not going to build itself out of a housing crisis. 

“I support workforce housing, and that’s rental housing, but I don’t think the government should be or should enter the free market,” Hershey said. 

Zalinski agreed but wishes to create some sort of pathway to ownership for young families. 

On the question of decorum, Zalinski stuck with inferring she would prefer collaboration with opposed viewpoints, while Hershey said that opposition in opinion was not lacking in decorum, but instead choosing not to go with the status quo. 

Schachter vs. Willman

Glenwood Springs City Council member and Ward 3 candidate for reelection Charlie Willman, right, makes a point during his debate with challenger Sumner Schacther at the Issues and Answers Candidates Forum on Monday, March 20, 2023 at Glenwood City Hall.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Schachter and Willman’s differences were highlighted less on the outcomes of the change they want to see, and more on how they plan to get there.  

Both candidates have an extensive list of boards and commissions they have served on in Glenwood Springs throughout the years. 

Although Schachter has an extensive list of accomplishments he listed having completed in the last year, one unique one was working on the steering committee for the Comprehensive Plan, which he said helped to identify Glenwood’s character.

“I will use (that) to evaluate proposals and growth and issues that preserve and enhance Glenwood character,” Schachter said. 

While serving the city, Willman pointed to Council’s action to put limits on short-term rentals, a comprehensive street reconstruction program, and initiating citywide cost effective broadband service.

“The goals I’d like to do would be to take the comprehensive plan and take those priorities and make it part of the city council’s strategic plan,” Willman said. 

He also wishes to advocate for rural needs and prevent statewide enactment of zoning standards that aren’t necessarily good for the local community, he said.

In order, the three biggest concerns Willman wants to work on are creating owner-occupied workforce housing, managing modern traffic and ensuring that through his representation on the Colorado Municipal League board of directors that Glenwood is not mandated to do anything.

“This past year, they tried to get a requirement that the city be given the right of first refusal, which seriously infringes upon local level landowner rights,” Willman said. 

For Schachter, his biggest concerns in order were to take care of infrastructure, including things like utilities, safety issues involving fire and evacuation and growth and housing which he said he lumped together.

“I’ve heard, ‘take care of us’ as one of the major issues, and I would make that globally, that means, continue to take care of our infrastructure, our roads, our streets, and do what we can to manage the costs for our utilities, electric, garbage collection, which Council has done,” Schachter said. 

Dehm (Ward 1)

Marco Dehm, Ward 1
John Stroud/Post Independent

Dehm spent his two minutes of speaking time to list some successes while he’s been on City Council since February 2022. 

He said he is proud of the work Council and the city have done, including approving the Comprehensive Plan, initiating the Transportation Management Plan, his work with the passage of 2C creating a workforce housing board, and awarding a contract to Habitat for Humanity.

“I also want to focus strongly on economic development to attract a variety of businesses, large and small, to ensure vitality and strong sales tax revenue,” Dehm said. 

He also mentioned wanting to work on sustainable smart growth, fire and natural disaster safety and Glenwood’s resilience, along with the South Bridge project.

Weimer (Ward 4)

Mitchell Weimer, Ward 4
John Stroud/Post Independent

Weimer said he has appreciated the work outgoing Councilor Paula Stepp did before him, and that he feels well qualified to fill her shoes.

He grew up in small-town Wiggins, Colorado, and then served in the Army and got his MBA at the University of California at Davis. He spent the last 20-some years working as a retail leader or as a management consultant, mostly to retailers.

He and his partner, former state House candidate Cole Buerger, recently bought longtime residents Phil and Joan Anderson’s house. 

“I think that my background as a consultant to these big companies, it’s a lot of stakeholders, very difficult issues, and the answers aren’t always simple,” Weimer said. “It requires a lot more listening and understanding than it does coming in with what you think are answers.”

Post Independent reporter Cassandra Ballard can be reached at or 970-384-9131.

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