Imagine Glenwood forum asks council candidates to share views
A third and final forum Tuesday for those seeking a seat on Glenwood Springs City Council gave each candidate five minutes to make a last pitch to city voters.
Taking place at the Glenwood Springs Library and hosted by Imagine Glenwood, forum moderator Sumner Schachter explained that none of the candidates could speak about Rocky Mountain Resources’ controversial limestone expansion plans.
Instead, the forum was intended to allow the candidates to talk about issues and concerns related to Glenwood’s residents and residential neighborhoods.
Although uncontested, Ward 4 candidate Paula Stepp still participated in the forum. She zeroed in on the importance of broadband to the city’s economy.
“You need it at home, you need it in your schools, you need it in your hospitals, and you need it in your workplace. …When broadband is out, you are not working,” Stepp said.
Stepp also announced her formal opposition to the ¾-cent street sales tax question that’s posed to voters on the April 2 municipal election ballot. Stepp said she believes the city can find other means to pay for rebuilding city streets, without imposing a new tax.
Ward 3 race
Seeking the open Ward 3 seat being vacated by Todd Leahy, council candidate Jennifer Vanian wasted no time discussing what she views as the importance of establishing a sound composting program at the South Canyon Landfill.
“My plan is to address climate change on a local level,” Vanian said. “My plan is to start a robust compost food waste program that creates revenue at the landfill.”
According to Vanian, Pitkin County currently makes $2 million annually on a similar program, and Vanian wanted to see such an operation at the city’s landfill.
The confluence area, coupled with the Sixth Street redevelopment was also a primary concern for Vanian, who wanted to see riparian areas along the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers preserved, as well as more pedestrian and bike-friendly options for the areas.
Ksana Oglesby, also seeking the Ward 3 seat, explained her campaign was not focusing on one particular issue but rather spoke generally about the numerous tasks the next City Council would undoubtedly take on.
“As far as what makes me qualified, and why I think you should elect me, my background is in finance accounting, which is something that I feel is often times missing and that the City Council needs more of,” Oglesby said.
After running unsuccessfully for the at-large position two years ago, Charlie Willman is now seeking the Ward 3 seat. He spoke heavily about vacation rentals, an issue on which he said his position had “evolved.”
“One of the reasons I think they are evolving is because one of the strengths that I have as a person on a board or committee is I am going to listen to ideas,” Willman said.
Willman also explained his opposition to the $50 parking permit application fee that he said the current City Council “hastily,” enacted and hoped for its repeal. The matter is on the Thursday City Council agenda for reconsideration.
At Large race
While candidates in both the uncontested and contested races focused on specific policy, at-large candidate Erika Gibson used her five minutes to talk more about her background.
“I moved to Glenwood Springs when I was 32, straight out of law school,” Gibson said. “Previous to that, though, I have worked for the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office, I have interned for both state and United States senators. I moved to Glenwood Springs because I wanted to make it a permanent home.”
Gibson, the youngest candidate in the at-large race, felt that the current council lacked a voice representing Glenwood’s young professionals and hoped to fill that void, if elected.
Sitting City Councilor Jim Ingraham, who was appointed to the at-large seat last year, touted his 30-year career in finance and said he had the temperament for the job and keen ability to strike compromises on controversial issues.
“My most important issues are, one, repair and restore our crumbling infrastructure,” he said. “Number two, preserve and protect the character of our town and its neighborhoods. And, number three, oversight of your tax dollars.”
Ingraham has expressed his support for the ¾-cent street sales tax, and is part of the Fix Our Streets Now tax campaign committee.
At-large candidate Tony Hershey restated his opposition to the ¾-cent street sales tax, joining Stepp and Ward 3 candidate Vanian in opposing the tax. He explained the two fundamental roles he believed city government was responsible for.
“The first is to provide police protection, and we are fortunate in this community that we have an excellent police force and [Police Chief] Terry Wilson,” Hershey, a prosecutor with the 9th District Attorney’s Office, said.
“The second is to fix and maintain our infrastructure, particularly our streets,” he said.
Hershey said the solution to the city’s streets should not come from a new ¾-cent street tax, but rather from the city’s existing budget, which Hershey said was “rosy,” and “looked great.”
(Editor’s note: This story has been revised from the original online and print version to clarify that three City Council candidates have stated opposition to the city streets tax proposal on the April 2 ballot.)
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The three incumbents are declared, and challengers have until Jan. 25 to gather nominating signatures to run for Glenwood Springs City Council April 6.