City Council candidate profile: Todd Leahy
Ward 3 (unopposed)
Family: Wife Kristine, daughter Jamie, 19, son Travis, 15
Education: Colorado State University degree in social sciences
Previous/current civic involvement: Four previous years on City Council, 2011-15, representing Ward 3
Editor’s Note: The Post Independent concludes its series of Q&A responses from the candidates in the April 7 mail-ballot election for Glenwood Springs City Council with incumbents Todd Leahy and Mike Gamba, who are running unopposed for their Wards 3 and 4 seats, respectively. Earlier this week, we featured Ward 1 candidates Steve Davis and Russ Arensman and the three candidates vying for the At-Large seat, Kathryn Trauger, Tony Hershey and Kathy Williams. Ballots are to be mailed to all registered city voters on March 16.
How long have you lived in Glenwood Springs?
If not a native, where are you from originally and what brought you here?
Originally from Tecumseh, Nebraska, a small farming town south of Omaha. I met my future wife in Denver who was from Aspen, so we moved back to the Valley.
In 50 words, describe your feeling for Glenwood Springs:
I love this town. I have lived my entire time in Glenwood downtown in the historical district. This area has such a great mountain feel and quaintness that I feel the passion to protect and enhance the area every day. I guess “passion” would be the best word.
What prompted your decision to seek re-election?
I feel the need to finish some of the improvements that we as a council started in my last term. The Grand Avenue Bridge and all its opportunities mainly. We have to get this right, and we will. There are some very talented people working on this project. The downtown improvements are also exciting and I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the DDA team working on our Historic Downtown District.
Do you support the Colorado Department of Transportation’s current plans to replace the Grand Avenue Bridge? Why or why not?
Yes, absolutely. Why? Opportunity.
If a separate Highway 82 bypass is to be studied, what are your thoughts on how best to accomplish that, and what is the city’s role?
I do not think that another four-lane highway running through our narrow town is the answer. Mike Gamba and our Transportation Commission are working on a new long-range transportation plan that I believe will focus on interconnectivity. More connectivity for the local traffic to navigate our town without the need to be on Grand Avenue. Some examples are: South Bridge, 14th Street bridge, Devereux Road bridge, Eighth Street, and many other bike and pedestrian crossings. More connectivity is a long-range planning solution that can be implemented.
In what other ways can the city address the impacts of traffic congestion in and around Glenwood Springs?
Zoning. Spoken like a true real estate guy. We need to learn how to go up in this town. Look around the country, people want to live in our downtowns where they can park their car and walk or ride bikes. This creates such a vibrant community that is not auto centric. There are many other ways that are all small bites of the apple that council will be working on over the next four years.
Is the proposed South Bridge connection to Highway 82 needed, and why?
What are your thoughts regarding the potential for redeveloping the Confluence area?
Huge potential. Beautiful area. I think the immediate area of opportunity is on Sixth Street. That area is happening now. There is an incredible opportunity to have a pedestrian-centered redevelopment on Sixth Street with the building of the Grand Avenue Bridge. This area needs attention immediately in order to seize the possibilities. What a chance to enhance that historic district of our downtown. Can’t wait.
Does Glenwood Springs have a need for new housing development? If so, what types of housing and where should that occur?
Yes, we need a vibrant, growing community. I would like to see the new housing focused on areas within existing infrastructure. In other words, infill. If we don’t grow up, we will grow out. Out just brings more sprawl and automobiles. This view does not mean that I’m against new outlying subdivisions. These developments will each stand on their own merits. I just think we need to encourage though our land-use code more vertical infill development.
Should the city build and operate its own power plant to help make the city electric utility more self-sustaining? If so, what’s the most attractive generation source?
Yes, if feasible. We as a council are looking into the possibilities now.
Name one other key issue facing the city, and how would you address it?
Economic development. I very rarely believe that government is the solution to much, especially economic development. But after four years on Council and 30 years in business, I have learned a few ways that government can affect economic development and I think we as a council should do our part. We need a complete rewrite of our development code. Our code is a disincentive to quality growth and economic development. The time has come to tackle this and get it right for the future. Another opportunity for Council to spur economic development is to get behind the growing sports tourism business. If you have kids playing sports these days, you know what I’m talking about. It’s big business. Hotel stays. Restaurant bills. Entertainment tickets. It all adds up to new business. Glenwood Springs is absolutely positioned to take advantage of this. It’s already us. We just need to work on our facilities to attract tournaments, camps and events that bring kids and families to Glenwood. Sports tourism is something I would like to see us, as a government, move resources toward and have Glenwood Springs be the place to be for sports tourism.
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The Forest Service plans to replace the Carbondale Aspen-Sopris ranger district station with a newer, larger facility.