Steamboat City Council hopefuls address issues
Candidates offer differing opinions at election forum
October 14, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council candidates had the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their opponents Thursday night at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
And they did.
In the race for District 1, incumbent Scott Myller and challenger Richard Levy, a Steamboat Springs Planning Commission member, explained their opposite positions on Steamboat 700 and the approval of Walgreens.
District 3 candidates Sonja Macys and Dave Moloney differed on whether the city should impose a fee or ban of plastic grocery bags.
And at-large candidates John Fielding, Kevin Kaminski and Daryl Levin differed in their views about whether medical marijuana businesses should be banned in Steamboat.
The Steamboat Pilot & Today, Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors, the Routt County Democratic Party and the Routt County Republican Central Committee sponsored the forum that more than 120 people attended.
Myller and Levy were on opposite sides of Steamboat 700. Myller supported it, while Levy did not as a member of the Planning Commission.
"For 700, the staff was in support of that and we spent a year and a half negotiating with the developer," Myller said. "We had gotten $84 million of public infrastructure improvements out of them. It seemed like a better solution that the community plan."
"Even though our west area was our designated area for growth, it also came with criteria," he said, adding that he thought the developer failed to meet that criteria in several areas.
As a member of the Planning Commission, Levy also opposed the Walgreens development for reasons including the building's setback from U.S. Highway 40. Myller was part of the City Council majority that overruled the Planning Commission's recommended denial of the project. Myller said the building's design mitigated some of the issues cited by planning staff and the Planning Commission.
While Macys said she would support some sort of fee or ban of plastic grocery bags, Moloney said he "absolutely would not."
"I just don't believe we need the government to tell us not to use plastic bags," he said. "I personally use my canvas bags every time I go to the grocery store and I didn't need the government to force me to do that. I think Steamboat has the kind of people who care about our community enough to take those kind of actions."
Macys said she hadn't decided whether a grocery bag fee or ban was appropriate but said via Skype from North Carolina that she did support the measure.
"My feeling on the bag fee issue is that like many other things, seatbelts for example, sometimes it does take a policy shift to get people to do things in a different direction," she said.
Both candidates said they didn't support the current City Council's approval of the Walgreens development.
Levin, who co-owns D&C Medical Marijuana & Therapeutic Massage, and Fielding said they wouldn't support a ban of medical marijuana businesses. Kaminski said his opinion differed from the one shared by his opponents
"What we have today is broken," Kaminski said. "It's a flawed system. We all know it. It's out there. If it came through on a federal basis and … regulated just the alcohol industry, I'm 100 percent behind it."
Levin argued that because voters approved an amendment to the state constitution in 2000 that allows medical marijuana use, local voters should not be able to overturn that in Steamboat and other communities across Colorado.
Instead, he urged anyone who didn't like medical marijuana to collect the signatures necessary to have the constitution amended to prohibit the treatment method.
Fielding said if voters don't approve the ban, the city should consider additional regulations such as requiring a fee that pays for constructive activities for local youths.
"I would not support the ban because I believe that having the industry out in the open, legal and supervised, is better than having it underground," he said.
In an unrelated issue, Fielding and Kaminski said they would work to remove the obstacles to do business in Steamboat. And Levin cited the importance and need for smart growth in the valley. He also was critical of Steamboat's marketing efforts.
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com