New councilors look to achieve common ground
First order of business for newly elected Glenwood Springs City Councilor Kathryn Trauger has more to do with finding common ground with her fellow council members than dwelling on differences.
“We need to have this council working together. That would be my goal,” said Trauger, who easily won election Tuesday to the At-large council seat over Tony Hershey and Kathy Williams.
“Maybe that’s not going to be an easy task, but I think it can be done,” she said. “We have to get everybody at the table, define our goals and look for commonalities … and, quite frankly, get over the nitpicking.”
New Ward 1 council member-elect Steve Davis also talked on election night about “building bridges,” not only within the larger community but on council itself.
“That may not be easy,” said Davis, noting that two sitting council members, Leo McKinney and Stephen Bershenyi, had endorsed his opponent, Russ Arensman, in the Ward 1 race.
“It sort of makes for an uncomfortable position to be in,” Davis said, “but this city needs a council that will work together.”
McKinney currently holds the council-appointed mayor’s seat, although he acknowledged that could change next week when the decision comes back to the table after the new council members are sworn in.
But, as the de facto board facilitator for the time being, he couldn’t agree more that it’s always good after an election to sit down and work things out to avoid hard feelings going forward.
“We didn’t do a retreat last time because it’s been the same seven guys up here for four years,” McKinney said. “I think it’s important that we all come together in that kind of setting and come to an understanding of what our roles are as council people.”
If that means broaching tough questions around election-cycle politics, then so be it, McKinney indicated in reference to criticisms about such things as endorsements or alliances that can tend to form during elections.
“It’s very difficult when you have seven different people sometimes with seven different views and perspectives,” he said. “But we can at least get together and lay out some ground rules.”
McKinney went on to note that City Council, even with the newly elected members, seems to still be aligned on the bigger issues facing the city, such as dealing with the impacts of the forthcoming Grand Avenue bridge construction and planning for various city projects around that larger highway project.
“I think we’re in sync with some of the direction that’s already been taken there,” he said.
“Strategic planning” when it comes to those larger issues is another goal of Trauger’s.
“I’m big on that, and we need to start that process sooner rather than later,” she said. “I would like to see staff brought into that process more, as well as our (city) boards and commissions, so that everyone is on the same page.”
One problem in moving forward on projects such as the Eighth Street connection and the various work in conjunction with the bridge project is that city staff is stretched thin, Trauger said.
“We need to look at how we’re going to address that,” she said. “We’ll be starting the budget process again soon, and we really need to look at our resource allocations.
“That’s one of the things we’ve been talking about at the Transportation Commission,” said Trauger, who has sat on that commission as well as the Planning and Zoning Commission for several years.
“We have a lot of policy decisions to make around all of that, and whether we outsource some of these things, or add staff, so that balls don’t get dropped,” she said. “We have to get all the right people at the table to realize these things.”
Trauger and Davis will be sworn in at the April 16 City Council meeting, where outgoing members Dave Sturges and Ted Edmonds will also be recognized. Reorganization matters, including appointment of the mayor and mayor pro-tem, will also be handled at that meeting.
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