Rodriguez looks to lead ‘new generation’ in bid for Glenwood City Council |

Rodriguez looks to lead ‘new generation’ in bid for Glenwood City Council

Incumbent Kaup welcomes robust discussion of issues

Ricky Rodriguez, behind the bar at Native Son.

Glenwood Springs restaurant owner Ricardo “Ricky” Rodriguez made it official Wednesday that he intends to challenge Glenwood City Councilor Shelley Kaup for an At-Large seat in the April 6 City Council election.

Rodriguez was busy Wednesday gathering a few more signatures of registered voters in Glenwood Springs to make his candidacy official, after falling just short of the required number of valid signatures on his candidate petition submitted Monday.

He technically has until Feb. 2 to cure his nominating petition, and said late Wednesday that he had already turned in the remaining signatures he needed.

“Glenwood is my home,” Rodriguez said in a written statement, noting that his parents immigrated from Mexico and “brought me up with the values of hard work, loyalty and commitment to my community.”

Rodriguez was born in Glenwood Springs, which inspired the name of his Native Son restaurant and bar in downtown Glenwood that replaced his former venture, the Loyal Bros. Lounge, in spring 2018.

“I grew up watching the American dream come to life through the incredible example of my mom and dad,” Rodriguez said. “When they became citizens of this country, the vision of unlimited opportunity through hard work was afforded to me and my siblings. I am forever grateful.”

Rodriguez, 41, has been an outspoken critic of some of the city’s policies related to what he says were sometimes onerous restrictions imposed on restaurants and other businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Currently, we are lacking a voice who can speak up for small business owners, for our thriving Latino community and for a younger, more diverse generation that is growing up here in our valley,” Rodriguez said. “I know we are ready for a new generation of leadership …

“I believe my life experiences and success as a business owner through challenging and nearly impossible circumstances will serve to help our community thrive in this post-pandemic era,” he said. “I believe we can work together to create more choices and options that will bring the prosperity Glenwood needs to thrive once again.”

Kaup, who is seeking reelection to another four-year term after being elected in 2017 to one of two At-Large City Council seats, said she looks forward to hearing from voters about what matters most to them, and what they expect from city leaders.

Shelley Kaup awaits returns at the Rivers Restaurant on election night in 2017.

“I always expected this would be a contested race,” Kaup said. “I look forward to the election and the campaign, and I think it’s a great time to have conversations in the community.”

Kaup noted in her own reelection bid announcement Jan. 14 that the city has done its best to support local businesses while protecting public health.

“This year has certainly been a challenge for small businesses, and I believe the city has done all that we can to find that balance and keep businesses and the community healthy, and help them thrive,” she said.

“I’ve also been a small business owner in this community for many years and I recognize the challenges,” said Kaup, who ran an engineering business for many years and has recently worked as a building sustainability and energy efficiency consultant.

“My husband and I raised a family here, so I know the struggles of young people trying to live and succeed here,” she said. “And, I will continue to be a strong advocate in our outreach to people of all colors and backgrounds as we seek to have more community interaction and engagement by everyone.”

Ward seats to go uncontested

While the At-Large seat will be contested in the April 6 election, the Wards 2 and 5 seats — held respectively by Ingrid Wussow and Jonathan Godes — that are also up for election, will go uncontested.

Godes, who for the past two years has served as the council-appointed mayor, said he was surprised to hear no other candidates put in for the south Glenwood ward seat.

“In general, I don’t think that uncontested elections are great, but it’s nice to not have to run a campaign,” Godes said. “Overall, I think the community seems to feel that we are working hard to understand the issues and reflect the will of our citizens.

“While Shelley, Ingrid and I don’t always get it ‘right,’ and while we don’t always agree with each other, we respect each other, the staff and the process. I think that the people appreciate that,” Godes said.

Wussow, who was appointed to the vacant Ward 2 seat last fall to represent the West Glenwood area, said she, too, was expecting a challenge.

“Truthfully, for the purposes of a democratic, fair election, it’s nice to have a choice,” she said. “But I’m honored in this situation to be able to continue representing Ward 2.”

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