Our View: Our choices for council: Trauger, Davis

Steve Davis



Glenwood Springs voters are fortunate to have good choices in the City Council election that, in effect, starts this week when ballots arrive in the mail and ends April 7, when votes will be tabulated.

While incumbent Councilmen Mike Gamba and Todd Leahy are running unopposed, residents will elect two new members to the seven-member council to give it fresh perspective and, hopefully, firmer forward direction.

Everyone agrees that the next few years are critical for Glenwood. A new Grand Avenue bridge almost certainly will be built, creating opportunities for the city that are added to a range of critical transportation and housing needs, among others, that we discussed in an editorial on Monday.

Four very good candidates are vying for the two contested seats.

In the at-large race, we endorse Kathryn Trauger, who is eminently qualified to be a Glenwood Springs councilor. Tony Hershey, a prosecuting attorney and former Aspen councilman, also is a strong candidate, and we hope the runner-up in this race tries again in the future.

Also seeking the at-large seat is Kathy Williams, who is sincere but not nearly ready for the job. We commend her for getting into the race and wanting to help move the town forward.

In the Ward 1 race, we favor businessman and political newcomer Steve Davis over former Councilman Russ Arensman — also a very good candidate who cares deeply about Glenwood.

We take these endorsements seriously. We interviewed each candidate in the contested races for about an hour in the PI office. We attended the Glenwood chamber’s Issues and Answers night on March 3, and we carefully read the candidate responses to city reporter John Stroud’s questions that we published last week.

Kudos to all five of these candidates and to the unopposed incumbents for wanting to serve. Each of them cares deeply for Glenwood and considers it a special place.

Trauger is remarkably prepared for the role. She has served in volunteer roles on the city Financial Advisory Board, Planning and Zoning Commission and Transportation Commission. She helped form and sustain a group of civic leaders called Partners4Glenwood that brought together divergent views and promoted conversation among the business community, elected leaders, the school district and groups such as the Sonoran Institute to help with a vision of the town’s future.

She is a vocal champion for the town, is a voice of reason and practices what she preaches about getting past the divisiveness in town. Partners4Glenwood discussed how to increase public knowledge about the bridge project with both supporters and foes of the plan in the room, and did so constructively.

Our greatest concern with Trauger is that she has been co-opted by process and, like councilors before her, risks getting buried in studies that do little more than quantify what the city can’t afford.

However, her first comment in her PI interview was that “the city needs decisive leadership” and “it seems to take an act of God to actually get something done.” We expect her to live up to her vow to move beyond that.

Trauger also demonstrated that she knows city government well enough to use it — and modify it — to meet goals. For example, she laments that the city has lagged in economic development efforts, compared, for example, with Rifle or Carbondale. She wants the Community Development Department to become the Community and Economic Development Department to elevate the importance of attracting business.

Trauger faces no learning curve in joining the council.

Steve Davis does, particularly compared with his opponent, former Councilman Russ Arensman.

We predict that, if elected, Davis will frequently be deeply frustrated by the layers of regulation, difficulty of negotiations and reams of legal considerations. We beg him, if elected, not to give in to it.

Davis is an action guy with clear views of what should happen: finish decommissioning the old wastewater plant and start work on the Confluence right away; a bypass “would destroy lives,” so let’s work on more ways to cross and access the rivers; Two Rivers park is an “embarrassment” and “this is a river town, but you can’t hardly get to the rivers.”

We like his plain-spoken candor. With his experience as a downtown business owner and home builder, we think his would be a refreshing and insistent voice that the council and the city needs.

Davis will carry weight with business leaders, and when it comes time to renew Glenwood’s Acquisitions & Improvements sales tax, as a fiscal conservative and former business owner, his support will have gravitas.

Arensman, like Trauger, knows city government and its issues. Like all of these candidates, he feels Glenwood Springs in his heart — it is his home in every sense of the word.

We fear that his election won’t bring the insistence on change that we believe is needed. In discussing the city’s long-desired plan to straighten Eighth Street’s connection to Midland Avenue — something the Colorado Department of Transportation will do temporarily as a detour during bridge construction, Arensman described the issues involving RFTA and the Union Pacific, which has an easement at the site, as “intractable.”

These things can’t be intractable or the city stagnates. The new council members must be determined, creative leaders who help break through longstanding walls.

These are close calls. Trauger, Davis, Hershey and Arensman all would make strong council members. These four, Williams and the unopposed incumbents all love a town they consider great and want to make greater.

You can do your part to improve Glenwood Springs. Vote.

Outgoing Councilman Ted Edmonds defeated Arensman by 4 votes four years ago, so your vote matters.

If you hate the traffic, if you disagree (or agree) with our endorsements, if you believe in Glenwood’s future, if you are worried about it — vote.

If you care about your town, vote.

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