Voorhees runs unopposed for Ward 2 seat
How long in Glenwood Springs: 10 years this July; born in South Dakota and lived in both Dakotas. Lived in Colorado for 27 years. Came to Glenwood when wife, Alice Bedard-Voorhees, took a position with Colorado Mountain College.
Family: Wife, Alice, and two grown children
Occupation: High education consultant
Education: Ph.D. in higher and adult education, Arizona State University; MA in counseling, University of North Dakota; BS Ed. in elementary education, University of North Dakota.
Civic, volunteer work: Littleton Rotary Club; Glenwood Springs and Spearfish (SD) Lion’s Club; Boy Scout committee chair and assistant Scout Master, Littleton; no previous elected offices held.
Only one of the three Glenwood Springs City Council seats up for election April 4 is going uncontested. Rick Voorhees is set to become the new Ward 2 (West Glenwood) representative on council, replacing Matt Steckler, who is term-limited after eight years.
Voorhees did have an opportunity to introduce himself and speak to some of the issues at the March 7 Issues & Answers Forum hosted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
“Glenwood is on the cusp of something very great … and there are an awful lot of things that this great town can do together as people talk and interchange with each other,” Voorhees, who works as a higher education consultant, said.
“I’m a data-driven guy,” he said of his approach to decision-making. “I like evidence, and I think it’s important to get the facts … and try not to make decisions based on emotion.”
Among the key issues facing the city are infrastructure needs, including in his West Glenwood neighborhood, as well as planning for the confluence area and Sixth Street development, continuing the city’s focus on renewable energy, improving inter-connectivity around town, and finding a way to bring the recycling center back into town, Voorhees said.
South Bridge will be an important project for the city to turn its attention to in the coming years, he said.
“It is important for the folks in the Four-Mile region who need quick access out of town, especially if there were a calamity up in that area,” he said.
Voorhees said he favors a regional approach to addressing the area’s shortage of affordable workforce housing, but City Council’s recent decision against a large apartment complex on Midland Avenue was the right one, he said.
“The confluence is going to be a very critical opportunity for the city, once we get the new (Grand Avenue bridge) behind us,” he said. “The confluence and the Sixth Street development are chances for the city to put a mark on this area for the next 50 or 100 years.”
But the mix of uses in those areas has to come down to a study of economics, “and how many stores can the city support without detracting from the work that has gone into the downtown,” Voorhees said.
Ensuring adequate parking is central to that discussion, he said.
“That will be vital to the downtown, vital to the confluence area and vital to Sixth Street, in terms of where people are going to park so they can enjoy these amenities,” he said.
Voorhees takes a measured approach regarding use of the former library building at Ninth and Blake.
“We ought to have fact-based discussions about what’s the return to the community for that space, not only economically but also culturally,” he said.
Voorhees said he was disappointed no one else stepped up to challenge him for the Ward 2 seat, but said that’s partly a symptom of the city not being able to draw younger people in particular into public service.
“A person my age who’s interested in being on council can be attributed to the fact that I don’t need the council income to maintain my lifestyle,” he said. “I had hoped that someone would have stepped up to represent the youth of Glenwood Springs.”
That gets to the issue of finding ways to attract and retain young professionals in the community, he said.
Asked what City Council’s role should be in overseeing city staff, Voorhees said it’s a mistake for elected officials to micromanage and invoked something his father, a former mayor of Sturgis, South Dakota, said.
“He refused to check up on city employees and said, if there’s a problem, let it come forth, but let’s not go looking for a problem,” Voorhees said.
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