Q&As with Glenwood Springs at-large City Council candidates | PostIndependent.com

Q&As with Glenwood Springs at-large City Council candidates

Glenwood Springs has one at-large City Council seat being contested in the April 4 city election, between incumbent Tony Hershey and his opponent Erin Zalinski.

Hershey has served one term on Council and is currently a deputy district attorney for Garfield County, while Zalinski is hoping to represent the local business community as the prior owner of TreadZ shoe and clothing store. 

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. 

In the only other contested race in this year’s election, incumbent Ward 3 Council Member Charlie Willman is being challenged by Sumner Schachter. A Q&A with Willman and Schachter is slated to appear in Wednesday’s paper and online at postindependent.com.

Answers to these same questions from the two uncontested candidates in the election, Marco Dehm for the Ward 1 seat, and Mitchell Weimer in Ward 4, will also be published later this week.

Tuesday is the first deadline for candidates to submit their FCPA Report of Contributions and Expenditures.

Candidate bios

Tony Hershey, at-large incumbent for Glenwood Springs City Council

Tony Hershey: Tony moved from New York City to Colorado with his family when he was 9 years old. He grew up in Aspen, went to high school there, and then college at CU-Boulder, where he majored in history. 

After working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, Tony went to law school in New York and worked as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn. 

Returning to Colorado, he practiced law in the Roaring Fork Valley and served one term on the Aspen City Council. Tony moved to Glenwood Springs in 2005 and joined the Ninth District Attorney’s Office in Glenwood Springs where he continues working today. 

Tony said he likes to ski, is a big movie fan, and tries to play golf. He lives in Glenwood with his two Cairn Terriers: Kasey and Waldo. 

Erin Zalinski, at-large candidate for Glenwood Springs City Council
Erin Zalinski/Courtesy

Erin Zalinski: Erin is most familiar as, “the TreadZ lady.” A Michigan native, she has called the Roaring Fork Valley home since 1992. She started in Aspen/Snowmass, had stints in both Carbondale and New Castle, but has lived primarily in Glenwood Springs. When not working, she said she likes hiking, tennis, skiing, paddleboarding — “whatever I can cram in.” 

“This community presents nearly endless options to embrace the outdoors,” she said.

Erin met her husband, Jon, while living in Aspen. “Although we faced many tough times and challenges, we could never manage to leave the area.”

The Zalinskis  have raised two children here, a son, 21, who is working his way through college and a daughter who is a graduating senior at GSHS. 

“With both of them well on their way to independence and the recent sale of both of our stores, I find myself with the time and the opportunity to give back to a community that has provided so much for me and my family over the years,” Zalinski said. “It would be a great honor to have a part in crafting a future for Glenwood Springs that honors and preserves that special character while recognizing both the reality of change we are experiencing and the opportunities that can present.”

What do you think about the plans RFTA has for mass rapid transit, and traffic issues in Glenwood Springs?

Hershey: I think the underpass they are building is an important safety improvement. Service may be increased, but we have a traffic issue that more buses are not going to solve. I don’t support putting buses near the Roaring Fork River near the rail right of way; or in any way diminishing the trail that exists there. Buses should remain on Grand Avenue. 

Zalinski: As far as I am aware, there are many options on the table but still few firm plans for the future of transit in Glenwood Springs. I am very pleased about the underpass at 27th Street. Pedestrian safety is something I question all along the Grand Ave corridor. It is undeniable that we are on a one-way trajectory with little but an increasing volume of vehicles on our limited thoroughfares. I read with interest the letter to the editor from Charles Peterson published on 2/14/23 where he brought up the East River Corridor. This was not something I was familiar with so I did some Googling. I quickly found the SH82 Optimization study from 2007 where this was presented and I downloaded the 52-page document so that I could familiarize myself with it. From all I can tell, Mr. Peterson brings up a very valid point. The only real way to reduce the volume of traffic on SH82/Grand Ave in Glenwood Springs is to provide an additional route. There is no point in mourning the lost 16 years of action that have passed since the study was published, but I can say that I feel rather strongly that some decisive action should be identified soon so that we can begin to have some impact on the conditions all our citizens and visitors wrestle with on a daily basis. I also don’t believe we have the luxury of waiting or partially addressing the issue with measures that become obsolete before they can even be completed.

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

Hershey: I support housing, but not overbuilding to the point that it destroys why we live here. Affordable housing is a problem everywhere. We can’t build our way out of the problem. The geographical, infrastructure, water and physical limitations make massive housing projects untenable and unsustainable. What we can do is make it easier for workers to find housing (so called workforce housing) and create opportunities for families to enter the market here. That keeps GWS active and vibrant. Shoving thousands of more people into a small valley, however, would destroy why many people live here. We can’t and don’t want to reproduce Arvada or Highlands Ranch, or more suburban sprawl. 

Zalinski: I am encouraged by the fact that our city is taking this issue seriously enough to establish a revenue stream dedicated to crafting a solution. For now, I plan to look to some of our neighboring communities who have a head start on tackling this issue and to learn from both their successes and any failures.  It is naïve to judge this as a problem that is easy or quick to solve. It is a reality that our community is facing staffing shortages in all sectors of our economy. To minimize the critical nature a lack of access to housing presents is just not a responsible option. The citizens who voted in the 2B initiative did so in good faith and they deserve to see solutions evolve. I believe this should be a priority for the City Council.

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

Hershey: I am a big supporter of the airport. It is a unique and important resource. It has safety benefits that are obvious and major economic benefits that are often overlooked. I will support continued improvements and funding for this asset.   

Zalinski: I am unashamedly a fan of the airport. I see it as a unique asset for Glenwood Springs and if it were lost, it can never be replaced. This airport presents so many opportunities simply by virtue of the space it occupies. Remember the 2020 GSHS graduation held on the grounds? I have been to more than a couple of the Air Fairs they have hosted and all were well attended. Many towns do not have an airport and are just fine, but why would you get rid of one you have? I am a business person and I can hardly keep myself from thinking about how a business can capitalize on opportunity, grow and evolve. I imagine that the business side of our airport could be more vibrant and I would happily support any reasonable and viable ideas to make that happen!

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

Hershey: Parking is and will always be an issue. However, I do not support paid parking in the downtown core. Like housing, parking will always be an issue, but realistically it is not that bad. On work days and busy government/court days it can be hard to find a space. And while the county has plans to build some more parking, I don’t think the City can afford to build more parking lots or multi-level parking. And I would not support massive parking lots that would change the character of downtown. There are solutions: adjusted times, shuttles and public transportation, and creating new parking in existing space. But, again, working and living (near) downtown I don’t see it as a crisis, just a problem that needs some adjustments. 

Zalinski: I ran a retail business downtown for 15 years and my feelings about parking are not positive. It has always been an issue and has only become more of a predicament. There are two solutions to a deficiency of parking; either create more parking opportunities or implement measures to reduce the number of parking spaces needed. Unless we can shuttle people from remote parking into our core in a timely manner, then we need to find more dedicated public parking and proactively manage the parking we do have.

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