Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser: Post-election reflections – David vs. Gallagher | SteamboatToday.com

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser: Post-election reflections – David vs. Gallagher

Just over 50 years ago, by a margin of 2-1, the citizens of our mountain communities voted to create Colorado Mountain College. That vote established a new tax district in five counties (now six) and a board of trustees to oversee the college's fiscal health and provision of services.

This month local citizens again cast votes on the future of CMC. Although measure 4B did not enjoy the same level of support as in 1965, the results provided feedback on a difficult matter that affects all of Colorado's rural communities.

Regardless of how you voted on 4B, I hope we all agree our communities are special places that deserve to be maintained for future generations. We might debate the advantages or disadvantages of various approaches, but none can argue that the quality of life in our communities is worth safeguarding.

Measure 4B was designed to stop further erosion of CMC's operating budget due to the current housing boom on the Front Range. This growth in other communities is causing a cumulative and permanent cut to property tax revenues in rural parts of our state, a presumably unintended consequence of the Gallagher Amendment, a unique provision in the Colorado constitution that periodically and uniformly resets local revenues based on statewide economic trends, which are often anything but uniform.

CMC may have been the largest tax district to challenge the Gallagher Amendment directly, but the college is not alone in its struggle to find a sustainable future in light of historic population growth elsewhere. Nearly all local tax districts are similarly affected. During the past year, we heard from numerous fire, recreation, water and sanitation districts. All were watching measure 4B closely, as they hoped it would provide guidance to rural communities across the Western Slope.

I commend the CMC Board of Trustees for its leadership and courage to shape and test a question that rural districts might use to protect their services from financial deterioration. It is too soon to tell whether the trustees will run a similar measure again in the future. Meanwhile, community leaders are seeking to better understand how to control their own economic sustainability and preserve local services.

For homeowners, 4B would not have resulted in an increase in property taxes compared to 2016, other than those caused by actual increases in home value. Under 4B, for every $100,000 in assessed value, property taxes to CMC would have been $31, which is $1 less than the same households paid in 2016.

Measure 4B was a complex response to an even-more-complex provision in our constitution. However, it would have provided a legal shield against future reductions in revenues caused by a constitutional formula adopted in 1983, when Colorado had half the population it does today.

Measure 4B fell short of majority support in Garfield, Lake and Eagle counties. It passed in Pitkin and Routt counties and was within 35 votes in Summit County. Thanks to the work of the Glenwood Springs Chamber and Resort Association, and numerous others, the measure received combined support from 47 percent of the region's electorate, a rate many thought was impossible with such limited time and resources. Along with the CMC Board of Trustees, we are grateful to so many individuals and organizations that advocated on behalf of CMC.

This bipartisan support came from Russ George, Rifle native and former Speaker of the House of Representatives; members of the Colorado Joint Budget Committee, Reps. Millie Hamner and Bob Rankin; and Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush from Steamboat Springs. The measure also received support from Grand Junction Rep. Dan Thurlow. While CMC is not in his district, and he has been a consistent advocate of limited government, he fully understands that the Gallagher Amendment threatens local services in rural parts of Colorado.

On reflection, the final result on this first attempt was encouraging. We learned that CMC is held in high esteem for the role it plays in our local economies to train first responders, teachers, nurses, hospitality workers and others. For this, the college is truly grateful.

We also heard widespread concern that uneven financial growth in the state is chipping away at critical local services.

Whether you were for or against measure 4B, thank you for participating in the election. Your turnout and engagement is yet another reason why we need to roll up our collective sleeves to find ways to protect the amenities that make our communities the envy of Colorado.

I look forward to opportunities to share information on the long-term impact of the Gallagher Amendment and invite your feedback and ideas on potential solutions. In the meantime, thank you for your enduring support of Colorado Mountain College. It is because of you that CMC is able to fulfill its mission to educate and support the communities and economies of western Colorado.

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser is president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College. She can be reached at cbhauser@coloradomtn.edu or @CMCPresident.

Hayden school bond vote deadlocked: 427-427

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The fate of Hayden School District's $22 million school bond issue to build a new middle school and high school could depend on the willingness of nine voters, whose ballots were initially rejected for having problematic signatures, to follow up.

The vote was that close. In fact, the vote count was closer than close. And there could be a recount in the offing.

When all 854 ballots cast in the Hayden School District bond election were counted, there were 427 "yes" votes and 427 "no" votes.

Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner's office confirmed that if the difference between the number of votes for and against a ballot question is less than one-half of 1 percent, it automatically triggers a recount.

But in the meantime, there are nine Hayden district voters who have eight days to go to the county clerk's office and explain their signatures and perhaps change the outcome of the election.

The Hayden School District, with 443 students, was seeking voter permission to replace old school buildings that have proven to be unsound in the past and have antiquated mechanical systems. Voters were asked to approve a $22.3 million bond issue and a property tax increase to pay off the indebtedness, which was estimated to cost taxpayers $9.75 a month for every $100,000 of assessed  valuation on their homes.

The enticement the school district presented to voters was, that should the bond issue pass, the district could be eligible for a $41 million grant from the Colorado Department of Education to cover the majority of the cost to build the new schools.

School Board President Brian Hoza was willing to look on the bright side on election night.

"I'm pleased that enough individuals are understanding the issues, that it is a competitive situation," Hoza said. "I think that tells me more individuals are learning about the district and its needs for the future."

If the ballot question passes, the Hayden district would still be wait-listed for the state grant. It needed two of four other school districts to fail to win approval for their own ballot questions in order for Hayden to move up on the wait list.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

Town of Hayden approves additional taxes for infrastructure improvements

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Thanks to voters, the town of Hayden will have the money it needs to make infrastructure repairs that will include improvements to roads and the water system.

Residents voted in favor of the tax measure 325-232.

"That's a big deal for Hayden," Mayor Pro-Tem Dallas Robinson said. "We have a lot of deferred maintenance that needs to be upgraded. It's going to go a long way to upgrade our infrastructure for a number of years. It's exciting news."

The town of Hayden was asking taxpayers for money to fund basic government services.

The town will take out a $3.7 million bond that will cost up to $5.2 million to repay over 15 years. The tax will then go away.

The tax will be in the form of a property tax, which advocates noted was tax deductible.

A resident will pay an additional $111.52 a year per $100,000 of property value.

The town will use $1.5 million for road improvements, $1.5 million for water improvements and $700,000 for sewer improvements.

Water improvements will include water plant upgrades, deferred maintenance items and the replacement of water lines in sections of roads.

Sewer improvements will include the removal of 35 years worth of sediment from the lagoon.

Road improvement money will be used for reconstructing East View Drive, Washington Avenue, West Lincoln Avenue, Vista Verde Drive and Hospital Hill, which would include adding a pedestrian sidewalk.

By passing the tax, the town wanted to keep water and sewer rates much lower for the long term.

Proponents of the tax said if the issue did not pass, the town would be forced to raise water and sewer rates at a much higher rate, certain roads would need to be returned to gravel, the town’s water system would be at risk and Hospital Hill would continue to be an unsafe route for pedestrians.

Hayden officials are optimistic about the future and additional revenue streams that may keep them from asking taxpayers to raise taxes in the future.

"I'm hopeful that we're going to see more revenue from new businesses that are here or are going to be here," Mayor Jim Haskins said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

Voters deliver ‘very good night’ for Steamboat schools

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs School District and the Board of Education received a much-needed vote of confidence from their voters Nov. 7 with the passage of  two ballot measures devoted to putting the district back on solid financial footing when it comes to taking care of what it already has.

"It's a very good night," Board of Education member Margaret Huron said. "I'm very happy this community has chosen to support those initiatives. I think the voters appreciate that we're taking a very measured approach to move forward with the issue of the school district."

Board of Education President Joey Andrew agreed.

"I'll admit, I'm emotional about it,” Andrew said. “I'm very excited for it. But it also means we've got more work to do."

It was just two years ago, in 2015, that district voters rejected a $93 million bond issue intended to build new schools and tackle the same maintenance issues addressed in the 2017 bond issue by a 79 percent margin.

Yet, Referendum 3D, which allows the district to take on $12.9 million in bonded indebtedness to replace five roofs and more, passed comfortably with 63 percent of the vote. 

It was a similar story with Referendum 3C, an ongoing mill levy that is expected to raise $1 million in the first year alone toward creating a stable fund for ongoing maintenance of the district's facilities. It passed by a slightly smaller margin.

"The ongoing mill levy will allow us to promptly address deferred maintenance and future capital construction maintenance projects going forward," Superintendent Brad Meeks said in a written statement.

Andrew said the Board of Eduction already has a future agenda item to begin assembling a citizens committee to advise the school district on how best to spend the proceeds of the mill levy in caring for the district's assets in the future.

And there is little doubt in the minds of school officials that this is just the beginning of upgrading the district's facilities.

Meeks wrote that the district hopes to build on the current momentum by forming several advisory committees to "tackle looming issues like growing enrollment, overcrowding, larger class sizes and a lack of space for specials like art, music, physical education and athletics."

"I think the voters think that schools create community, and the community creates the schools," Board of Education member Michelle Dover said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

Steamboat City Council will keep health insurance benefits

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs City Council members won't have to worry about losing their taxpayer-funded health insurance benefits anytime soon.

City voters handily approved the health benefits for their elected officials Tuesday, with 64 percent of residents supporting the measure.

Since 1990, council members have been offered the insurance perks as compensation for their service. But the city's legal team discovered last year the benefits were actually illegal because voters had never endorsed them as is required in the city charter.

No current city officials or council members are sure why the council started getting the benefits without going to a public vote.

But a majority of city voters made it clear Tuesday they don't have an issue with the council continuing to get the benefits.

The cost of the benefit varies from city employee to city employee. But the government budgeted to spend up to $95,000 for all of the council’s combined health insurance benefits this year.

Council members see the health insurance benefit as helpful in recruiting new candidates.

They also looked at what other mountain communities in Colorado offer their elected officials and concluded health insurance benefits were not out of the norm.

For example, Breckenridge, Durango and Vail are among the cities and towns that offer similar benefits.

The Steamboat council did voluntarily remove such things as a $400 recreation bonus from their insurance benefit plan because it was not common in other communities.

Just like city employees, council members pay premiums for the health plan.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

Scott Ford wins 2nd term on Steamboat City Council

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs’ data-loving, Hawaiian shirt-wearing city councilman handily won a second term Tuesday night.

“I’m thankful for the confidence that the folks in Steamboat Springs have placed in me,” Councilman Scott Ford said Tuesday after election returns came in.

Ford won 78 percent of the vote in his race against challenger Peter Arnold for the council’s at-large seat.

“It’s humbling that there are almost 2,250 people that like Scott Ford,” Ford said after the first returns showed him leading. “I’m fairly secure in my self esteem, but that’s helpful.”

Ford, who launched the city’s Coffee with Council events that allow constituents to weigh in on anything on their minds, promised to remain accessible as a councilman.

He also vowed to continue wearing his signature Hawaiian shirts on the dais.

“Council has got some really important issues in the coming years, and I’m glad I’m going to play a role in shaping those,” he said.

Ford, who was first elected to council in 2013, tipped his hat to his opponent for jumping into the race and being civically involved.

Arnold was also complimentary of his opponent, saying Tuesday night that he looks forward to seeing Ford continue to serve admirably.

“My intent was to push the conversation on certain topics and to get involved, and I think on that note I was successful,” Arnold said. “My goal is to also stay involved and continue serving on the board of adjustment.”

Arnold said he thinks that by running, he helped start a conversation about the impact nightly vacation rentals are having on the city’s housing supply.

After hearing he had lost the election, Arnold continued to focus on the housing issue and told stories of people who were negatively impacted by vacation rentals.

“I think the effect it’s had has been ignored,” Arnold said.

The race between Arnold and Ford was the only contested council race in this election.

Incumbent council member Kathi Meyer will serve in the District 2 seat, incumbent Lisel Petis will serve in the District 1 seat, and former councilwoman Sonja Macys will start serving again in District 3.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

Workforce housing tax passes in Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Sheila Henderson was all smiles at a downtown watch party Tuesday night when she learned Steamboat Springs voters were backing a tax proposal that is expected to provide safer, more convenient housing opportunities for the low-income clients Henderson works with every day.

"For our clients, it’s all about safe living environments for people living in poverty," the Integrated Community executive director said. "This means more housing supply."

Referendum 5A, which will use a 1-mill property tax levy to create a dedicated funding source for the development of low-income, seasonal and permanently affordable housing, won with 2,842 “yes” votes to 2,248 “no” votes.

The tax, which is expected to generate $900,000 annually starting next year, will sunset in 10 years.

Henderson has seen firsthand how the scarcity of affordable housing in Steamboat has negatively affected families.

Some of her clients in Steamboat have had to share units so cramped that even a laundry room becomes a bedroom at night.

Elsewhere around the city, Steamboat Ski Area workers are facing tighter living situations with up to five roommates, and others are sleeping in their cars.

Henderson was joined at the election-night celebration by business leaders and members of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, which proposed the tax.

"We're thrilled," Housing Authority Board President Roger Ashton said. "We're thrilled the community is behind this, and we can move forward."

Ashton said there are already potential housing projects in the works that he hopes to announce soon. However, he did caution residents that more housing won't appear overnight.

Ashton noted it took three years for the Housing Authority's latest project to go from a plan to providing leases for tenants.

But the money approved by voters will start getting the pipeline going, Ashton said.

"In a few years, we should start to see a new project every year," he added.

Jon Quinn, who worked on the campaign to pass the tax measure, credited the Housing Authority and its track record for the successful vote Tuesday night.

"Their success made it really easy to sell this measure," Quinn said. "It's a good win for the community."

The success of the housing tax measure comes at a time when seasonal and low-income workers face another tight and expensive rental market.

Many one-bedroom units are renting for more than $1,200 a month, and rents in other unit types appear to be climbing.

Housing in the area is so scarce, the ski area recently announced it was adding more bunk beds to its employee housing units and considering another housing subsidy program.

The campaign in support of the housing tax generated more than $26,000 in donations.

The estimated cost to the taxpayers will be $36 of additional property tax annually per $500,000 of assessed residential valuation. And for commercial properties with a valuation of $500,000, the tax is estimated to be $145 per year.

“This is a win for the community,” Steamboat City Councilwoman and Housing Authority board member Kathi Meyer said after celebrating the election results. “This means lots of new housing for the community.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

LIVE UPDATES: Election Day in Steamboat Springs 2017

Editor’s note: We will be updating this story throughout the evening, so check back for local election news.

10:55 p.m. Hayden school issue is proving every vote really does count.

Hayden school bond vote deadlocked: 427-427

10:25 p.m. 

Town of Hayden approves additional taxes for infrastructure improvements

10:05 p.m. City voters handily approved the health benefits for their elected officials Tuesday, with 64 percent of residents supporting the measure.

Steamboat City Council will keep health insurance benefits

10 p.m. “I’ll admit, I’m emotional about it," Steamboat Springs School Board member Joey Andrew said about voter approval of bond issue and mill levy issues. "I’m very excited for it. But it also means we’ve got more work to do.”

Voters deliver ‘very good night’ for Steamboat schools

9:36 p.m. "I'm thankful for the confidence that the folks in Steamboat Springs have placed in me," Councilman Scott Ford said Tuesday after election returns came in.

Scott Ford wins 2nd term on Steamboat City Council

9:33 p.m.

Steamboat City Council will keep health insurance benefits

9:33 p.m. Referendum 2A, which will fund basic government services that include repairs and maintenance to roads and the water system in Hayden, passes, with 325 votes in favor and 232 votes opposed.

9:26 p.m. It’s a close night for Hayden. In the Hayden Board of Education race, updated results show Timothy A. Frentress Sr. leading with 515 votes, followed by Brian F. Hoza with 386 and Medora C. Fralick with 379. Trailing behind are candidates Janet Hollifield, with 344 votes, and Aden Morrison with 324 votes. The top three vote-getters earn seats on the board.

9:22 p.m. Updated results show Loren Lance Miles winning in the South Routt Board of Education race over challenger Andrew A. Benjamin. Miles has 329 votes, while Benjamin has 233.

Workforce housing tax passes in Steamboat

9:15 p.m. Unofficial election night results show Ref. 5A has passed, with 2,842 votes in favor and 2,248 opposed. 5A is the ballot initiative that would provide a dedicated funding source for affordable housing in the Steamboat Springs area.

9:13 p.m. Unofficial election night results show Referendum 3C and Referendum 3D, a bond and mill levy override for the Steamboat Springs School District, both passing. Voters in favor of 3C: 3,201. Voters opposed: 2,109. Voters in favor of 3D: 3,386. Voters opposed: 2,007.

9:10 p.m. The Hayden School District ballot issue is tied, 427 in favor and 427 opposed, as of the unofficial election night results. The final outcome of the issue will be dependent on the uncounted ballots and the possibility of a recount. Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner says she cannot recall a recount ever occurring, and believes if the count is within three, it will likely trigger a recount.

9 p.m. Updated results coming soon. Among the uncounted ballots are 30 overseas ballots, 21 ballots set aside to protect the secrecy of the ballots not yet counted and 69 ballots rejected because of signature issues. Voters have eight days to fix problems with signatures. Nine of the ballots with signature issues are from voters within the Hayden School District, where voters are split over a $22.3 million bond issue to build a new school building.

8:50 p.m. Preliminary results show a close race for three open seats on the Hayden Board of Education. Timothy A. Frentress Sr. is leading with 484 votes, followed by incumbent Brian F. Hoza with 362 votes, Medora C. Fralick with 358 votes, Janet Hollifield with 325 votes and Aden Morrison with 310 votes. The top three vote-getters when results are final will join the board.

8:45 p.m. Preliminary results show Loren Lance Miles ahead in the South Routt Board of Education race over challenger Andrew A. Benjamin. Miles has 307 votes, while Benjamin has 211.

8:12 p.m. "Today, we are celebrating the value our community places on safety, student success, transparency, and longevity in the Steamboat Springs School District," said Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks, in a statement following the passage of 3C and 3D, $12.9 million bond and an ongoing mill levy.

8:06 p.m. 

Steamboat Springs City Council member Kathi Meyer gives a thumbs up Tuesday evening at Aurum, after learning that Referendum 5A appeared to be passing. She was joined by Dan Parrillo, general manager of the Steamboat Sheraton Resort (front), Yampa Valley Housing Authority member Sheila Henderson and Jon Quinn, who volunteered on the 5A for Homes campaign. Photo by John F. Russell.

8 p.m. With preliminary results from across the Colorado Mountain College district, voters are favoring Peg Portscheller over Randy Winkler for the CMC Board of Trustees Director District 3 seat. Portscheller is ahead with 58 percent, or 8,974 votes, while Winkler has 42 percent, or 6,459 votes. The seat represents Garfield County, but everyone in the CMC district was eligible to vote.

7:55 p.m. Routt County voters are split on their support of Referendum 4B for Colorado Mountain College, with 2,476 votes in favor and 2,407 opposed. Across the CMC district, the referendum has fallen behind. Preliminary results across the CMC district show 46 percent of voters, or 11,372, are in favor, while 54 percent, or 13,422 voters, are opposed.

7:50 p.m. Referendum 2A, which would fund basic government services that include repairs and maintenance to roads and the water system in Hayden, is leading, with 301 votes in favor and 220 votes opposed.

7:43 p.m.: With 500 votes left, 2,575 votes in favor of Ref. 5A and 2,087 opposed. 5A is the ballot initiative that would provide a dedicated funding source for affordable housing in the Steamboat Springs area. The 5A Committee is celebrating its expected victory at Aurum in downtown Steamboat.

7:43 p.m.: Steamboat City Council members will still be eligible to participate in city’s health insurance program. Ref. 2B passes with 2,131 votes case in favor of the measure and 1,183 against.

7:42 p.m. Incumbent Scott Ford wins handily over challenger Peter Arnold in Steamboat City Council’s only contested race. Ford wins 2,246 votes to Arnold’s 628.

7:37 p.m. Hayden School District’s $22.3 million bond issue is in a dead heat — 401 in favor, 402 against.

7:30 p.m. With 500 ballots left uncounted, Steamboat Springs School District’s Referendum 3C — the $12.9 million bond issue — and 3D — the $1 million capital construction mill levy — have passed. Ref. 3C: 2,904 “yes” votes/1,959 “no” votes. Ref. 3D: 3,074 “yes” votes/1,868 “no” votes.

7:20 p.m. Referendum 4B — Preliminary results show that voters are favoring Referendum 4B, a ballot measure that Colorado Mountain College officials say would mitigate the impacts of the Ghallager Amendment. The measure would give the Colorado Mountain College board permission to raise property taxes any time the state constitution requires a cut to residential property assessments.  The measure is ahead, with 56 percent of voters, or 1,546, in favor and 44 percent, or 1,208 voters, opposed.

7 p.m. Voting is now closed. Preliminary results are expected soon.

6:55 p.m. A reporter is headed to the Historic Routt County Courthouse and we will report preliminary results as soon as they’re available.

6:30 p.m. 5A for Homes supporters are gathering at Aurum.

5:45 p.m. With the exception of the Historic Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs, voting locations across Routt County are closed. Ballots will be accepted at the courthouse until 7 p.m.

10 a.m. It’s election day in Routt County and across the country. Follow along Tuesday on steamboattoday.com for live coverage as results come in, and use #theboatvotes to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Ballots for the 2017 general election must be received by the Routt County Clerk’s Office by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Voters are reminded to use black ink and fill in the circles completely when voting the ballot.

Voters can drop off their ballots at the following locations.

■ 24-hour secure ballot box in alley behind Historic Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.
■ Clark Store, Hayden Town Hall, Oak Creek Town Hall and Yampa Town Hall during normal business hours.
■ Routt County Clerk’s Office,  7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Here’s a reminder of the ballot issues and races that Routt County voters will decide on Tuesday:

Steamboat schools seek approval for $12.9M bond, $1 million mill levy

Steamboat Springs School District is asking voters’ permission to raise taxes as it launches a multi-year capital projects push that begins with catching up on deferred maintenance

Hayden Schools looks to build modern campus with passage of 3A 

With its aging secondary schools deemed unsafe, the Hayden  School District is pursuing a plan that could help the district of 443 students build a new, 21st-century school campus for 33 cents on the dollar.

Ref. 2B Steamboat residents to decide fate of city council health insurance plans

Steamboat Springs residents will decide this fall whether their elected officials should continue to get health insurance benefits from the city government as part of their compensation package.

5A promises to bring new era of affordable housing to Steamboat area 

The board of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority voted Aug. 24 to seek voter permission to collect a 10-year, one-mill property tax within its district, which includes the city of Steamboat Springs and an area that is similar to the boundaries of the Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District.

Recommended Stories For You

The estimate is that the tax created by Referendum 5A would raise $900,000 annually until it sunsets after 10 years. And by using the tax dollars to leverage private investment, the board is predicting the money would help to fund the creation of six to eight new housing developments.

Tax dollars from 2A would fund infrastructure improvements in Hayden

The town of Hayden is asking taxpayers for money to fund basic government services that include repairs and maintenance to roads and the water system.

Soroco withdraws mill levy request for salaries due to math error

Steamboat Springs School Board candidates 

Katy Lee

Mayling Simpson

Hayden School Board candidates

Brian Hoza

Medora Fralick

Tim Frentress

Aden Morrison

Janet Hollifield

South Routt School Board candidates

Andrew Benjamin

Loren "Lance" Miles

Steamboat City Council candidates

Scott Ford

Peter Arnold

Sonja Macys

Lisel Petis

Kathi Meyer

For complete Steamboat Pilot & Today coverage of the 2017 election, visit steamboattoday.com/news/election

Ford outspends Arnold in only contested Steamboat City Council race

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A lack of competition in most of the Steamboat Springs City Council races this fall also led to the lowest fundraising and campaign spending totals in recent history.

Council candidates Scott Ford and Peter Arnold, who are running in the only contested race, did not collect any contributions for their campaigns.

Finance reports filed with the city last week show Arnold reported spending $86 of his own money on Facebook advertisements, while Ford spent $2,551 of his own cash for campaign advertisements and his website.

By comparison, a two-way contested council race back in 2015 had then-candidate Jason Lacy raise $10,915 for his campaign against Michael Buccino.

Ford, an incumbent council member, and Arnold are vying for the council's at-large seat, which carries a two-year term.

Some of the council candidates who are running uncontested for the other seats this year did collect some donations for their campaigns before realizing they would not face opponents.

Following Tuesday's election, incumbent council member Kathi Meyer will serve in the District 2 seat, incumbent Lisel Petis will serve in the District 1 seat, and former councilwoman Sonja Macys will start serving again in District 3.

All three candidates are running unopposed.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

Educator and businessman square off for open Colorado Mountain College board seat

Peg Portscheller

A former K-12 schools superintendent and longtime education consultant, Peg Portscheller of Battlement Mesa views her run for the open western Garfield County seat on the Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees as a natural extension of her lifetime work.

“This is my 47th year in public education, and it has truly been an amazing opportunity,” Portscheller said of her decision to run for the six-county college district board. “Being an educator was my dream in life, and it’s my hope to keep that shining.”

For Randy Winkler, a former Rifle councilman, mayor and longtime business owner, it’s a chance to give back to a community institution that has served his and other businesses in the region and supports the area’s economy in general.

“I have been involved with CMC at many different levels over the last 15 years and have developed a great respect for the organization and learned how important they are to our communities,” Winkler said. “To me it is very important for the person representing this district to have lived here, been involved with the community and have a good understanding what the people want and need in Garfield County.”

Portscheller and Winkler square off in the only contested race for elected office that’s on the mail ballot for next Tuesday’s election. They seek the west Garfield District 3 seat that is being vacated by Mary Ellen Denomy due to term limits.

Randy Winkler

Incumbent college trustee Charles Cunniffe and former trustee Doris Dewton are also on the ballot, but are unopposed for two other seats on CMC’s governing board.

A three-year resident of Battlement Mesa and Colorado resident since 1990, Portscheller served as superintendent of schools in Lake County from 1995 to 2000 and was a school district administrator in Eagle County prior to that.

She worked in education research and development for a stint, working closely with the Colorado Department of Education. Later, she was executive director for the Colorado Association of School Executives, an organization that serves the needs of principals and superintendents.

Portscheller also spent a couple of years in higher education at Adams State in Alamosa, helping with continuing education programs for teachers and helping school districts attach college credit for teacher relicensing and training programs.

More recently, she has owned her own education consulting business, Portscheller and Associates–Pathways to Results, working with schools, districts and other education entities around the country.

“In Eagle and Lake counties I had the opportunity to partner with CMC on many things,” she said. “It’s great to have a resource like CMC in the heart of the Rocky Mountain area, and I’m a passionate believer in higher education opportunities that are both accessible and affordable.”

With changes in the workforce and automation of many types of traditional jobs, there’s a big focus in both K-12 and higher education on jobs of the future, Portscheller also observed.

Maintaining that affordability and accessibility at all of the CMC campuses, and through partnerships with outlying areas such as Salida and Buena Vista, is an important part of that, she said.

Winkler was on Rifle City Council from 2010 until this past September, serving in the mayor’s seat for the past four years.

He purchased Micro Plastics from the aunt and uncle of his wife, Jody Winkler, who had owned and operated the business since 1980. The company now has locations in Rifle and Glenwood Springs and two additional partners, Dwight and Shermette Esgar.

“I learned that the CMC seat for western Garfield County needed to be filled because of term limits of the previous member, so I wondered who was going to fill it,” Winkler said of his initial interest in the seat. He believes his longstanding involvement in the community gives him a unique perspective.

Recommended Stories For You

“I believe CMC has one of the best college presidents in Carrie Hauser and the best staff in the country,” Winkler added. “I want to be part of a group that gives them the tools and support they need to continue this success and be even better in the future.”

Winkler also noted that each CMC campus has its own personality.

“It is important to keep an open mind and be flexible with each location,” he said. “The most important word to any successful board is teamwork.

“This doesn’t mean always agreeing, but respectfully disagreeing,” Winkler added. “There will be many challenges in the future for CMC that will take many minds to solve.”