Q&As from Ward 3 candidates Sumner Schachter and Charlie Willman | PostIndependent.com

Q&As from Ward 3 candidates Sumner Schachter and Charlie Willman

The only ward being contested for Glenwood Springs City Council during this year’s election is Ward 3, with incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman and his opposition, Sumner Schachter.

Both candidates have served a lot of time on respective boards and commissions for the city, and both lived in Glenwood Springs for more than a couple scores. 

Ballots go out to registered city voters via mail on Monday, which is also the first day ballots can be requested at the Glenwood Springs City Clerk’s Office. 

There are two more candidates to hear from, but neither are in a contested race. This includes Mitchell Weimer in Ward 4 and Marco Dehm in Ward 1. A Q&A with Dehm and Weimer is slated to appear in Friday’s paper and online, and a Q&A with the At-Large candidates, Tony Hersey and Erin Zalinski ran in Monday’s paper.

Tuesday is the first deadline for candidates to submit their Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Report of Contributions and Expenditures.


Sumner Schachter

Schachter: I moved to Glenwood Springs in 1970 as a junior high teacher and coach. Prior to that, I have been in the valley during the summer since 1967, while working on the Big Four and Strang Ranches in Carbondale. 

I left the valley for three years, 1974 to 1977, then returned to Glenwood to teach after completing graduate work in education. 

In 1983, I began a 36-year financial planning and investing career in Glenwood. Over the years, I have served on many boards and commissions and volunteer opportunities. 

There is more detailed information on my Facebook page Sumner Schachter for Glenwood City Council.

Charlie Willman
Cassandra Ballard/ Post Independent

Willman: I have lived and worked in Glenwood since 1976, where I have been an attorney and raised my family. 

At the present time I am a mediator for the Colorado Office of Dispute Resolution. 

I have served on numerous nonprofit boards from soccer to legal services. I currently serve on the boards of Mountain Valley Developmental Services and River Bridge Regional Center. I am currently a member of Kiwanis and last year received its award as Kiwanian of the Year for heading its Ball Race. 

I was the first attorney municipal judge in Glenwood and then became city attorney for four years. I was appointed to the DDA Board and served as Chair from 2008 to 2016 and have served on the city’s Financial Advisory Board and Transportation Commission. 

I am the Council representative to several boards, including the Chamber and Tourism Board. As a member of the Board of Colorado Municipal League, I serve on its Budget and Management, Diversity and Housing committees.  

I am helping address the housing shortage not only at a local level but also through State legislative action. I was recently nominated to serve as Senior Vice President for the Colorado Bar Association. 

During my tenure as a Council Member for Ward 3 and Mayor Pro Tem, I have made decisions based on community input and what is best for Glenwood not just for today but from the view of “will this be good for Glenwood in 10 years.”

What do you think about the plans Roaring Fork Transportation Authority have for mass rapid transit and traffic issues in Glenwood Springs?

Schachter: I feel that we are very fortunate to have such a robust rural bus service in our valley. I would hope, and continue to monitor, that RFTA helps to significantly reduce vehicle traffic through Glenwood as well as benefiting the environment and sustainability. However, I would want to examine our benefit relative to our financial contributions. It is important that we are fairly contributing to the benefit of Glenwood and not just serving as a conduit for upvalley employers and workers. I also hope and expect that RFTA will collaborate and contribute to our upcoming evacuation plan. I would support our transportation commission recommends attention to the traffic demand management recommendations and implementing that were possible. In addition, I would hope that RFTA helps us working with CDOT planning our safe streets proposal and safer intersections and crossings on Grand and Eighth and Ninth. At this time, I am not prepared to support a bus corridor on or adjacent to the Rio Grande trail, nor taking parking off Grand Avenue (MOVE study). Additional ways to mitigate traffic on Grand might include working with employers, such as Valley View Hospital to work on ways to carpool and van, and get employees to reduce to single vehicle travel to Glenwood. We could also benefit, perhaps from revisiting some of the traffic, mitigation and parking systems that were in place when the Grand Avenue Bridge closure occurred. New and enlarged hubs and park and rides in West Glenwood at the Meadows or the mall and South Glenwood, 27th St., CME lot built by RFTA may also make sense.

Willman: RFTA, in conjunction with the City, recently completed the MOVE transit study. The City and RFTA agree that there is a need to reduce traffic from western Garfield County. One of the keys, as was proven during the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement, is to provide mass transit that is a faster, cheaper, reliable and more low stress method to get from their homes to their places of work in Glenwood and upvalley. Communities from Aspen to Rifle have a stake in this endeavor. RFTA is seeking to move its BRT buses into and through Glenwood faster in order to make BRT more attractive to valley commuters. Its two proposals include removing parking in downtown for a bus lane or constructing a dedicated bus lane along the Rio Grande Trail. Removing parking in downtown is counterproductive to our local businesses. These retail businesses should not suffer from traffic problems over which they have no control. Likewise, constructing a dedicated bus route next to our valued Rio Grande bike path is not a viable solution. Better solutions must be investigated, including better traffic management. The City has undertaken a study to create a Transportation Management Association and to complete a Transportation Demand Management Study. These tools will help the City find more effective solutions to this difficult problem. 

What is your perspective on workforce or affordable housing? Do you have any initial plans or ideas that could benefit the need?

Willman: Glenwood’s economy and approximately 80% of its revenue comes from its tourism destination sales and lodging tax revenues. Glenwood’s retail, restaurant and lodging businesses need workers to serve our visitors. In addition, we need to provide housing for teachers, nurses, fire and police. We have a diverse ethnic population which serves as this workforce and housing for the workforce must be a priority. This needs to be focused on affordable owner-occupied housing more so than rental housing. Owner-occupied housing creates a personal investment in the community. Shortly after my election to Council, the city adopted a program to more strictly control the number of housing units used as vacation or short-term rentals. This action served two purposes: One, reducing the impacts of short-term housing on neighborhoods in order to maintain their historic use and, two, reducing the conversion of units which have, in the past, provided workforce housing. The City can engage in public/private partnerships such as the plan currently in development with Habitat for Humanity. The City has agreed to provide land and fee waivers in order to allow construction of owner-occupied units affordable to our workforce. The City must also be active at the statewide level to insure that the workforce housing funding approved last fall reaches our community and is not consumed by larger metropolitan areas. There are no easy or fast solutions but Council must lead these efforts.

Schachter: For many years, I have been a strong supporter, advocate and catalyst for increased workforce housing by participating in workshops, forums, P&Z, housing commission and the 2C commission.  

Plans and ideas include additional inclusionary zoning, the habitat housing partnership, mobile home park preservation, facilitating home ownership with down payment assistance, seeking grants and partnerships. We cannot “do it all” and provide housing for all our workforce, but we must make Glenwood workforce housing a priority for now and the future as per our updated comprehensive plan and residential surveys indicate. Facilitating additional workforce housing must be balanced with preserving Glenwood character and be consistent with our character. I have a draft of a three-year strategic plan for increasing workforce housing.

Do you like how the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport is run? Do you have improvements to suggest?

Schachter: I do not know how the airport is run by its board. However, it must continue to be a self-supporting entity and an enterprise fund. The airport will continue to be an area of study relative to its best benefit to Glenwood Springs in terms of cost, land use, safety and economic benefit.

Willman: The voters want to keep the airport operation in its present configuration but this vote did not determine how the City was to pay for airport operations. In 2022, the city used non-airport funds (citizen dollars) to replace the antiquated and unsafe fueling station with the understanding that these funds were to be repaid from airport revenues over the next several years. The 2023 airport budget did not start the repayment program as required. The airport must operate, as do all other city enterprise operations (water, sewer and electric) on at least a break-even basis. Council over the last two or three years has increased water, sewer and electric rates to meet this operational goal. It should be no different for the airport users.  Otherwise, the city must use citizen tax dollars to fund airport operations. The airport board was charged with finding ways to meet current and future operational and long-term funding needs including identified safety improvements. These safety improvements include embedded landing lights for low light days and fencing to prevent aircraft and animal and or person conflicts. South Bridge, a needed safety evacuation route, will without changing the current configuration of the airport, require an investment in a tunnel under the airport runways. This cost may now be as much as $5 million to $8 million. The airport board must find ways to fund or assist in the funding of this cost without making this a city-wide expense.   

How do you feel about downtown parking? Do you have any suggestions or solutions for parking?

Willman: There is a difference of opinion on downtown parking. Some feel that parking is a problem while others disagree. Last fall, Council directed a measured approach to assist in answering this question. The first step is to recommence parking enforcement, which has been nonexistent due to the lack of available enforcement staff and modernized enforcement tools. The city has issued a request for proposals to determine the cost and provide for the acquisition of modern enforcement tools, including computer hardware and software using license plate recognition. It is my view that proper enforcement may alleviate what is perceived as a lack of parking and alleviate the need for an expensive parking structure. With license plate recognition, the city can create a parking program which prevents the two-hour parking shuffle. Long-term parking would be made available for those that work downtown. Workers can be provided permits which encourages them to park in various city parking lots thereby allowing use of downtown street parking by the customers of our stores and restaurants while ensuring workforce parking without fear of a parking violation. But this enforcement cannot be commenced without recognizing and addressing the impact it may have on downtown neighborhoods. Resident parking permits which are non-transferable need to be issued to insure that the residents of these neighborhoods have priority for parking.

Schachter: I believe the parking downtown involves a balance between workforce availability, downtown residence and tourist parking and resident shopping and dining. I am not sure at this time of the pros and cons of paid parking. I believe that more emphasis on enforcement may be a better solution. I believe that larger parks and rides paired with regular shorter and more convenient shuttle service for hotels and visitors could reduce parking demand and vehicular traffic. Increased routes south and west could reduce parking demand and traffic. Shorter intervals and different routes for RIDE would be a priority. Funding sources and the monitoring of ridership would be critical for expanding bus service. 

Some areas of downtown Glenwood allow, I believe, two parking permits per residence. Perhaps more restrictive parking for non-residents and additional enforcement would be warranted.

The 6th Street Master Plan, if and when implemented, includes plans for a public parking structure. A parking structure would be important but cost is high and sources of funding not yet identified I believe.

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