Steamboat Springs Editor's note: This is the first of four City Council races that will be covered in the Steamboat Pilot & Today this week.
Omar Campbell, a candidate for City Council in District 1, thinks this year's City Council races could be a major turning point for the city in the next four years.
That's why the 76-year-old forester has spent even more money supporting other people's campaigns than he has spent on his own campaign.
Campbell is painting the District 1 contest like the three others voters will have to consider as a battle between business interests and the interests of the rest of the community.
"I've noticed the 5-2 votes in the council," Campbell said. "Five-two for business every time just about."
Campbell claims that his opponent, a Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association board member, will just reinforce the business side of that 5-2 split.
His opponent, Nancy Kramer, doesn't think of the council in those terms. As the director of a nonprofit organization, she feels as if she can bring an especially balanced voice to the council.
To Kramer, the problems facing the city need to be tackled by someone like her who has seen the community from many angles as a business owner, health care provider and nonprofit director.
"I'm the philosopher," she said. "I'm that big-picture person."
And as to Campbell's charge that she is a "chamber candidate," Kramer is quick to dismiss the notion that she is beholden to anyone.
The two candidates vying to replace City Council President Kevin Bennett as a representative from District 1 each say that they will be very outspoken, though with considerably different voices.
Campbell is adamant about his opposition to the city subsidizing the chamber's marketing program, which he thinks contributes to rampant growth. Campbell, who said he thinks the community needs to stop stretching city infrastructure allowing new subdivisions, spurred a failed movement to get the chamber subsidy question put on the ballot a few years ago.
Kramer said she would not cut chamber funding, especially because sales-tax revenues could be very low this winter. She said the city must work with the chamber to keep the community strong in the difficult months ahead.
Kramer is also focused on bringing the various governmental entities and other organizations in the community together.
"There's been a line drawn in the sand between the city and other entities," Kramer said.
She said she thinks closer cooperation with the county and other groups will make the city's job easier and save taxpayer money. That includes working with Mount Werner Water and Sanitation to try again to consolidate the water districts.
And though he does not fault Kramer's wishes to bring city entities together, Campbell does see some of her allegiances as potential conflicts of interest.
Campbell said he wants to make sure he has no conflicts of interest if he gets elected, promising to drop out of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley. In addition, he has not accepted money, according to campaign filings, dipping into his own pocket for $276 to finance his campaign, which has consisted entirely of advertisements explaining his positions in the newspaper. Campbell has used the newspaper to promote and explain his ideas in the past through extensive letters to the editor.
Campbell, however, has supported the campaigns of three other candidates Ken Brenner, Darcy Trask and Steve Ivancie to the total tune of $400, because he feels this group can sway the entire council.
Kramer said she will drop off the chamber board if she is elected, though she added she would be interested in serving on the board as the council representative.
She has spent almost $1,500 on her campaign, receiving contributions from individuals as well as businesses such as Steamboat Resorts and Native Excavating, according to campaign filings.
Kramer directs the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, which coordinates arts events throughout the community and acts as the administrator for a few arts organizations. It also puts art exhibitions up in the Depot, where the Arts Council is housed.
Campbell said he thinks that because the city grants money to the Arts Council and gives the organization the use of the city's Depot, Kramer should resign her post at the Arts Council if elected.
Kramer respectfully disagrees, noting the city pays only a small portion 13 percent of the Arts Council's expenses.