Six candidates emerge for two Glenwood Springs Council seats
The field of candidates for Glenwood Springs City Council is set, barring any signature verification problems, according to City Clerk Catherine Mythen.
As of the 5 p.m. filing deadline Monday, Mythen said a total of eight candidates had submitted nominating petitions for four seats that will be up for election April 7.
At least two of those seats will be contested, including the open at-large seat for which current Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Kathy Trauger, former Aspen Councilman Tony Hershey and longtime West Glenwood resident Kathy Williams have declared their candidacy.
The at-large seat is being vacated this spring by two-term Councilman Dave Sturges, who cannot run again due to term limits.
In addition, there will be a three-way race for the west downtown/north Midland Ward 1 seat currently held by Ted Edmonds, who will be running for re-election.
He expects to face former Councilman Russ Arensman, whom Edmonds defeated by four votes in 2011, and former downtown business owner-turned-homebuilder Steve Davis.
The other two seats that are up this spring, in Wards 3 and 4, look to be uncontested. Incumbents Todd Leahy and Mike Gamba were the only candidates to turn in petitions for those respective seats by the Monday deadline.
Monday, Feb. 2, is the last day for prospective write-in candidates to declare for any of the open seats, according to Mythen. Feb. 3 is also the last day for a candidate to withdraw a nomination. Otherwise, the ballot will be set, she said.
The looming race for the at-large seat in particular could prove interesting.
It pits “Our Town Glenwood Springs” blogger and longtime civic activist Trauger against former longtime Roaring Fork Valley attorney Hershey, plus the added element of a newcomer to the political scene in Williams.
“This is a very important time for the city of Glenwood Springs, with a lot of changes coming,” Hershey said. “We are literally at a crossroads.”
As traffic and transportation needs are the primary issue for Glenwood today, so was the case in Aspen a decade ago when Hershey served a single term on City Council there.
Hershey was an outspoken critic of early planning by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to build a valleywide commuter rail system, calling it “cost-prohibitive.”
The end result, which he says he wholeheartedly supports, is RFTA’s much-expanded Bus Rapid Transit system.
Hershey also was very outspoken in favor of the so-called “straight-shot” Highway 82 entrance into Aspen while living there.
It was an idea that died for lack of any consensus, and the issue can be likened to Glenwood Springs’ current debate over the replacement of the Grand Avenue bridge and whether a Highway 82 bypass should be built, Hershey said
Nonetheless, the main highway bridge connecting Highway 82 to Interstate 70 “has to be replaced,” Hershey said.
“It’s old, and it’s going to fail eventually, that’s my concern,” he said. “But we need to make sure we’re doing the right thing for the long-term future.
“I don’t know if a bypass is doable, but I’d like to see if it could be done,” Hershey said.
Hershey worked for many years as a prosecutor with the 9th District Attorney’s Office in Aspen and Glenwood Springs, and most recently with the 5th District Attorney in Eagle. However, he said he is leaving that position to go back into private practice in Glenwood Springs.
Williams said she initially tried to talk her youngest son into running for council, but ultimately decided to give it a shot herself.
“I guess I’m representing the regular, local people here,” she said.
Williams concurred on the bridge issue, saying it’s “long overdue.”
But the bigger issue is to find ways to ease traffic congestion on Grand Avenue, she said. That means planning for an eventually building a bypass.
“Back when we built the (Midland Avenue) alternate route, the idea was to eliminate some of the traffic,” Williams said. “I don’t think it helped.”
As a downtown employee, working at Downtown Drug, she also said she would like to see the downtown be more pedestrian-friendly.
Trauger, who announced her intentions a couple of weeks ago, has also cited the bridge and other transportation-related matters as the key issue facing the city.
“My position on the bridge remains that it is absolutely necessary to replace it,” Trauger said. “I’m not opposed to looking at a bypass, or other alternative solutions. That is something we need to put on the table.”
Trauger and Edmonds both welcomed the healthy debate that will come with a three-way race for their respective seats.
“Ultimately, I think the citizens will benefit from this,” Trauger said.
Edmonds said he, too, welcomes an exchange on the various issues with Arensman, Davis and the at-large candidates.
Edmonds said Ward 1 in particular is at the “epicenter” of a lot of the traffic issues, so it stands to reason that there’s more council candidate interest from that neighborhood.
“For me, I just feel like there are so many things that are kind of half done right now, and a lot of it is revolving around traffic and transportation,” Edmonds said.
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Federal lands in and around the Roaring Fork Valley will be under a Stage 1 fire restrictions starting Friday, officials with the White River National Forest and Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday morning.