District 3 council candidates' race full of contrasts

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One of the two candidates running for City Council in District 3 said she almost dropped out of the race because she could not afford to live in the community, but she stayed in to help others with similar problems. The other candidate said she entered public service at the request of a dying friend. Stakes for both candidates, with the potential for a swing in the way the council votes after this election, are high.

Darcy Trask and current City Council President Pro Tem Kathy Connell are locked in a race that is full of contrasts. Connell wants to run for another term because she thinks her work on the council is far from done. Connell, who has served on the council for four years, feels she is in the midst of her public service career and has plans for the city she thinks will be groundbreaking. In her four years on the council, Connell says she has learned an incredible amount and has brought with her a philosophy to do things "right rather than quick."

"Everyone gets on the council to do something good," she said. "But that drive to do something good is almost like a poison. Sometimes that drive to do something good makes us act too quick."

Connell, who wanted impact fees reduced, has said passing impact fees may have been a case of acting quickly to address a troubling concern rather than acting right and consulting everyone. Her experience at dealing even-handedly with issues on which less-informed people may vote based on gut reactions puts her at a distinct advantage, she said. It also makes her an astute problem-solver.

"You can't think out of the box if you don't know what's in the box," she said.

Trask, however, sees Connell's experience as a potential negative.

"Experience is only important when you like what you're getting," Trask said.

Trask is convinced she is the best candidate in the field and can sympathize very directly with the plight of young working families.

While Trask, who works for TIC and teaches at Colorado Mountain College, is able to live in Steamboat by hunkering down with two kids in a condo for now, she knows many families are struggling even more. Trask's route to Steamboat, like that of other locals, took her through a small home in Hayden.

"There is no one on council that is living the experience of what it's like to have affordability issues," Trask said.

While Trask believes people should have to struggle to some degree to live here, she does think the city needs to do more to help provide affordable housing for locals. She also thinks the "affordability problem" is not limited to the housing market. As a major proponent of the early childhood education tax proposal, she thinks the community needs to tackle the affordability problem from a number of different angles.

Trask thinks she is a better choice than her competitor because, as a TIC employee with a degree in resort management, she can be more objective while still being knowledgeable about local issues. Connell, Trask thinks, is too dependent on the resort industry to be fully objective on many issues.

Connell, who co-owns Colorado Resort Services, feels Trask's depiction of her as having too many conflicts of interest is unfair and inaccurate.

All council members, in part because of how interconnected the community is, have conflicts and have to be aware of the issues on which they need to step down, she said. She has been diligent to identify her conflicts up front, and has stepped down whenever she had a financial interest in the matter at hand, Connell said. She thinks her record shows she has been among the most balanced members on the council over the past four years.

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