Trauger, Davis elected to Glenwood council
A late campaign controversy over a campaign contribution aside, Kathryn Trauger and Steve Davis won big in Tuesday’s election to claim seats on the Glenwood Springs City Council.
“I’m just very, very grateful that people were able to see through the smokescreen,” Trauger said as she celebrated her win with Davis and supporters at Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse.
“It’s gratifying that people were able to see the honesty and sincerity we have … there are no special interests, other than a special interest in Glenwood,” she said.
Trauger, who currently chairs the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, easily outdistanced her two opponents for the open at-large council seat, earning 1,009 votes, or 62 percent of the votes cast, based on the unofficial results of the election.
Tony Hershey, a former longtime prosecutor with the 9th District Attorney’s Office and former Aspen City Council member, came in second in the balloting with 394, while political newcomer and downtown worker Kathy Williams garnered 216 votes.
Meanwhile, Davis, a homebuilder and longtime Glenwood business owner, won the Ward 1 race over former Councilman Russ Arensman.
Davis had 247 votes in the ward-specific balloting, or 59 percent, to Arensman’s 169 votes.
A question on the citywide ballot authorizing Glenwood to consider a land swap at 23rd Street and South Grand Avenue for possible intersection improvements also passed easily, 971 votes in favor to 610 against.
And, incumbent council members Todd Leahy and Mike Gamba, who were unopposed for their Wards 3 and 4 seats, were re-elected as well.
The council campaign turned a little nasty in the waning days of voting in the mail ballot election after the Post Independent reported that campaign finance reports showed Davis and Trauger had received a combined $6,000 in contributions from a Denver energy company executive and his wife who have a second home in Glenwood Springs.
Davis said he was “thrilled” with the outcome of the election, despite some bitterness over criticism leveled at Michael and Patty Starzer, whose home he is remodeling in Glenwood Springs and who decided to support to his and Trauger’s campaigns.
“Whenever there’s a controversy you never know how people are going to react to that,” Davis said.
“Kathy and I both want to be able to build bridges, and I’m not talking about concrete,” Davis said, referencing some hard feelings on council that may need to be smoothed over, rather than the politics over the state’s plans to build a new Grand Avenue Bridge on Highway 82.
“This city needs a council that can work together and find some transparency in the process,” Davis said.
Arensman, who was critical in a letter to the editor of what he called “out-of-town high rollers” and “big-money politics” influencing the local election, took a conciliatory tone Tuesday night.
“Congratulations and good luck to Steve Davis … he worked hard and ran a strong campaign,” Arensman said.
“I appreciate his willingness to step up and offer his time and energy to the community. Now it’s time for all of us to get back to working together to make this an even better place to live and work,” Arensman added. “Despite our many challenges, I believe this is a time of great opportunity for our city, and that Glenwood Springs’ best days are still ahead of us.”
Hershey, who also had harsh words about the donations, offered his congratulations to Trauger, “and all that money.”
“I do certainly want to congratulate her, and I wish her a lot of luck,” Hershey said. “She ran a strong campaign, and ultimately the voters are the ones who get to decide, and they made their choice.”
Williams, who came into the race with no prior political experience and offered her candidacy as a “voice for the average citizens,” said she learned a lot in the process.
“I’m really glad I did it, and it was a great learning experience for me,” she said. “I learned a lot about local politics, and about myself. So I feel really good about that.”
Sitting Glenwood Councilman Stephen Bershenyi, who had lent his support to Arensman in the Ward 1 race, said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome.
“I happened to back Russ, because I know him and have worked with him, and he worked for me on my campaign,” said Bershenyi, who gathered with Arensman and his supporters at the Grind Tuesday night.
“I’m looking forward to working with the new council members and building consensus on what’s best for the community,” he said.
Bershenyi was also pleased that the ballot question passed.
“It gives us an opportunity to look at that intersection and some possibilities to make it safer and more manageable,” he said.
While the vote authorizes the city to consider a swap or sale of city-owned land for private property, any deals regarding the 23rd-and-Grand intersection would need to be negotiated.
A total of 1,666 ballots were cast in the election, according to the unofficial results, for about a 35 percent turnout, according to City Clerk Catherine Mythen.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon may be closed intermittently Wednesday through the weekend, as highway crews break down and remove boulders and patch potholes caused by Tuesday’s rock slide.