Thursday, August 16, 2001
Steamboat Springs Omar Campbell wakes up at 3 or 4 a.m. every morning, brews himself a pot of coffee, and sits down to watch C-SPAN for the next two hours. He reads the Steamboat Today cover to cover and fills out the crossword puzzle, looking up any answers he doesn't know.
And then, he lifts his 76-year-old frame up to go to work, trimming trees and offering advice on arboriculture in the community. On most nights, he's in bed by 11 p.m.
"I don't sleep much. I don't need much sleep anymore," Campbell said.
Campbell's biggest worry in regards to his potential candidacy for City Council in District I is his age.
He realizes he would be 80-years-old when his term ended. He already has hearing problems as well as sight problems and does not want to be an embarrassment for the council, he said. He also understands he is on the other side of a wide generational gap from the young population of Steamboat Springs.
At the same time, few people are as engaged in civic matters as Campbell. He writes letters published in the Pilot & Today on an almost weekly basis and is an outspoken critic of a number of city policies.
Campbell's biggest sticking point with the Steamboat City Council in the past has been over the city's funding of the chamber of commerce's tourism marketing program.
While the city has dropped the amount of its allocation to the chamber, Campbell thinks it ought to be phased out entirely, in part because he thinks it contributes to growth and congestion in the valley. As the city gets ready for another Triple Crown weekend, Campbell points to the traffic and congestion the sporting events bring with them. In terms of the business owners who depend greatly on the events for summertime revenue, Campbell says he thinks the city needs to think more about people who do not participate as directly in the tourism economy.
"We need to stop the continuing promotion of tourism. It's overrunning our town and our infrastructure," he said.
Campbell said he knows that tourism is the backbone of the community's economy and does not think that should change, but that it should be moderated. Agreeing with others in the Yampa Valley Community Alliance, of which he is a "sometimes-member," Campbell thinks tourism marketing can lead to excessive growth. But if Campbell is elected to the council this November, he said he will have to move his political ideology slightly closer to the center.
"When I have six other people to deal with, I think my views will have to move back into the middle," Campbell said.