Meet the candidates

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Several members of the Teen Style staff turned 18 this year and will be entering the voting booth for the first time. Once the curtain closes, no teacher or parent will be looking over their shoulders to tell them how to vote. They will not be graded on how they vote or if they do. They are on their own. They are adults.

Teen Style staff chose to focus on the City Council elections and to better inform themselves about the candidates by asking each candidate the same questions.

They were just as concerned as older voters about future of growth and development in the Yampa Valley. They all plan to leave for college, but many expect to return to their hometown to raise families.

For them at age 18, every decision the City Council makes has a direct impact on their future. If the valley becomes too expensive or if the local job market is limited, many Steamboat Springs High School graduates could leave the valley for good.

The following questions, which they chose to ask City Council candidates, reflect their concerns about the future as well as their interest in present-day issues, such as the state of the skate park. To find out whether the candidates were people they could identify with, the teens asked about music taste and how much candidates know about teenage opinion.

Six candidates tackled the questions in phone interviews, trying to convince the next generation that they are worth the vote.

Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 20. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Bring a photo ID.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 1

Bud Romberg

Age: 68

Occupation: Retired physics and chemistry teacher

Time in Steamboat: 37 years.

Q: How do you see the future of development and growth in Steamboat?

A: Growth is coming. The question is how do we go about managing it? I think we have to be careful that we look at all possibilities and try to anticipate the unintended consequences of our actions. I do not think we should shut the gate and I do not believe in growth at all costs.

Q: What impact do you think you will have on the city as a member of City Council?

A: I have a four-year record at this point. I also served for 10 and half years on the School Board, and for eight and a half of those years, I was teaching. I am able to walk that line.

I am not a one-issue candidate, nor do I serve a particular constituency. I raised my family here so I am interested in the well- being of this community.

I want to make sure we allow the people who work here or worked here and want to live here to be able to do that. I would like to see additional diversity of the basic economic structure and also the funding structure."

Q: Would you consider setting a livable wage for Steamboat?

A: I think that's a nice platitude, but I don't know if it's realistic. What that implies is that business people in this town are making a lot of money off the backs of their employees, which is an unfair assumption to make. Many members of the business community are scraping along just like everyone else. One of the ways the average wage could increase is to change the economic mix.

Q: How much respect do you have for teenage opinion?

A: I have a great deal of respect, but the caveat that goes with it is sometimes the experience level is not as great as it would be when these same teenagers become older.

Their opinion is important and sometimes they have good ideas. With age comes not necessarily wisdom, but experience, and those opinions change.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

A: I was a country-Western fan since before it was big.

Q: Why would an 18-year-old vote for you?

A: I think that anyone, not just and 18-year-old, would vote for me because of the experience I've had. With respect (to that age group), having taught high school for almost 30 years, I have a feel for what's important to them.

Q: Would you support a skate park going into the Bear River Parcel?

A: I think it's something that should be considered, but no decision has been made in terms of what Bear River is going to be.

Q: Do you favor bringing back String Cheese Incident?

A: No. I do not. I spoke out against it at the time. What it brought with it was an audience that was disrespectful to the community. To try to categorize everyone in an audience is not good, but I'm talking about the people who went in grocery stores and grazed and didn't pay... I couldn't see that they brought any benefit.

Q: What is the most important issue facing the community?

A: Livability. That encompasses a lot things -- growth, community character and affordability.

Sue Dellinger

Age: 43

Occupation: Building automated mapping systems - GIS

Time in Steamboat: 11 years

Q: How do you see the future of development and growth in Steamboat?

A: I think growth is necessary. Otherwise, we stagnate. But we need to employ management tools through planning, zoning and land use codes -- more so than they are used currently. Right now, people can get things waived to the detriment of the community.

Q: What impact do you think you'll have on the city as a member of City Council?

A: My goal is to bring experience working for the city from one end to the other side. I know how the budget is developed on a staff level. I built geographic information systems for the city for 10 years and left a year ago to start my own business, which gave me insight.

Q: Would you consider setting a livable wage for Steamboat?

A: It's a cool idea, but I think it would be overstepping our power to do something like that.

Q: How much respect do you have for teenage opinion?

A: You have to look at the teenage population as the up-and-coming council members and Planning Commissioners. You have to respect that. You have to engage them. I don't really feel right now that the political process engages them.

I don't know if they feel like they've been heard. They have a whole different outlook, and it's good to hear from all sides of the community, especially those who will be the leaders later.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

A: I work at Pisa's, delivering pizzas part time, and the guys there just introduced me to hip-hop. They are trying to get me up to date.

Q: Why would an 18-year-old vote for you?

A: They would vote for me knowing they have access to government. I don't know if they feel they do.

Q: Would you support a skate park going into the Bear River Parcel?

A: What's the Bear River Parcel?

Q: Do you favor bringing back String Cheese Incident?

A: Yes. It was a big hit. I don't think there was a problem. The cops didn't have trouble as far as I know. I thought it was a good event.

Q: What's the most important issue facing the community?

A: I think the community needs leadership that is looking way down the road. We deal with things crisis to crisis.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2

Kathi Meyer

Age: 53

Occupation: Retired. Spent 20 years in banking and financial management.

Time in Steamboat: 20 years, 8 full time

Q: How do you see the future of development and growth in Steamboat?

A: I believe that we have to balance and manage growth against the current needs of the community. I support using a variety of growth-management tools, but I am not in favor of growth-control mechanisms. I think growth controls increase the cost of housing and it would make it harder for our community to achieve its affordable housing goals. I want to make sure that if our young people choose to come back here and raise a family, they can afford to do that.

Q: What impact do you think you will have on the city as a member of City Council?

A: Because my background is heavily into financial management, I think I can help guide the city to make better spending decisions as well as encourage the city to be more productive with our tax dollars."

Q: Would you consider setting a livable wage for Steamboat?

A: I think instead we need to attract businesses that pay higher salaries. In order to do that, we need adequate access to technology. We need to explore the sustainability of a year-round economy. We don't have that right now. We are still tourism based. We have businesses that can't afford to keep employees on year round.

Q: How much respect do you have for teenage opinion?

A: Very much. Our youths are very educated. I think this is the best educated generation we've had.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

A: I like jazz and "oldies." (We used to call it rock 'n' roll.)

Q: Why would an 18-year-old vote for you?

A: I think a council person needs to be fair-minded, listen to all the facts and make the best decision on behalf of the whole community. I think I have those qualities."

Q: Would you support a skate park going into the Bear River Parcel?

A: Actually, I'd like to see us improve what we have. I think the current location is a good one. I think we should look at upgrading our facilities.

Q: Do you favor bringing back String Cheese Incident?

A: No. I don't. I think there are other groups out there that would have wide appeal to all generations. We need to take a look at those groups that have a positive impact on the community.

Q: What is the most important issue facing the community?

A: I think we still are in a transition from a tourist-based economy which traditionally creates low paying service jobs. We need to become a year-round, better paying, diverse local economy. That's a project that is going to take place over five to 10 years.

Ken Brenner

Age: 49

Occupation: Alternative therapist and strength conditioning coach

Time in Steamboat: Third-generation local.

Q: How do you see the future of development and growth in Steamboat?

A: I think long-term, looking 20 to 50 years in the future. I'm hoping we will stay in our incorporated boundary, which means a more dense, more European style of community, instead of the sprawling American-style town. I want to see a dense, mixed-use, transit-friendly community that would learn to exist within the incorporated boundary.

Q: What impact do you think you will have on the city as a member of City Council?

A: More than some might think. Having four years on council and an understanding of how things get done is a huge advantage. There are a few specific things I plan to address. We need a tax policy committee. I bet you that the property tax is going to fail, which means the revenue we have today are the revenues we will have tomorrow. We need to change the way taxes are spent and we need input from the community about how they are spent. We need to make the process more available to the public and much earlier so meaningful input can take place."

Q: What do you think about setting a livable wage for Steamboat?

A: I think the Yampa Valley Partners have done a good job of raising awareness about livable wage. It's not the government's role.

Q: How much respect do you have for teenage opinion?

A: It is extremely important. I have three boys -- 13, 15 and 18. I spend a lot of time with them. We read the newspaper together and talk politics. They have been helping me with my campaign. I think that young people listen more objectively. Even if they don't know everything about this issue, they can sense who is being sincere. I feel bad when I talk to a young person who is not registered to vote. Their vote counts just as much as mine.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

A: A huge variety. I listen to the same music my kids do. At work, I listen to classical. In the car, I prefer classic rock. I only struggle with country and Western because that's what I listened to growing up.

Q: Why would an 18-year-old vote for you?

A: I coach and work with kids all the time. I'm empathetic to what goes on in the lives of youths. They are the future of this community and the planet.

Q: Would you support a skate park going into the Bear River Parcel?

A: In the master plan, the most important part is the re-establishment of the river meander. I think there is a place where a skate park wouldn't interfere with that.

Anything we can do in this community that improves the social opportunities for kids is on the top of my list. When I grew up here, we had a giant community center on Fifth Street with a youth room. It was a great facility for kids to do things. We can do better for our kids.

Q: Do you favor bringing back String Cheese Incident?

A: I think that the future of the ski industry is in these youth-oriented concerts. It makes great sense from marketing perspective.

Q: What is the most important issue facing the community?

A: If you travel across the United States and Colorado and see what's going on, if you are not concerned about those trends being duplicated here, you are missing some pretty obvious patterns that should be of great concern to you.

Marcus Williams

Age: 43

Occupation: Entrepreneur

Time in Steamboat: Landowner 12 years, full-time four years

Q: How do you feel about development and growth in Steamboat?

A: I feel if we don't guide growth correctly it will overcome us and we will lose the unique character of Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Valley.

Q: What impact do you think you'll have on the city if you're elected?

A: A real resident will be elected to City Council. The impact I will have: Residents' needs will be heard and acted upon.

Q: How much respect do you have for teenage opinion?

A: I'm half teenager, half adult, so, I listen. My mind works like a teenager, but I'm a realist. The only difference is I've been playing this game a lot longer.

Q: Do you think about the next generation when you make decisions?

A: I would consider the present-day adults to be the caretakers of the teenagers' future.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

A: I listen to jazz, rock, progressive, blues and classical.

Q: Why would an 18-year-old vote for you?

A: Because I've got their back.

Q: What do you think about the idea a skate park on the Bear River Parcel?

A: Just heard recently that kids who are into skate parks want a permanent concrete one -- I'd vote for a permanent steel or concrete skate park as opposed to wood.

Q: Do you favor bringing back String Cheese Incident?

A: Absolutely. I love their music.

Q: What's the most important issue facing the community?

A: I use this word in my political stuff because my first goal is to protect and defend all the segments of our community.

I spoke to a young girl this morning who said this is a tourist town and we might as well face it and become that. But this isn't just a ski town; people who think monolithically like that, that's what's going to destroy this town.

Steamboat and Crested Butte are the only ones that are still real towns.

I'm not against tourism, but we need to defend our way of life, our residents' unique and diversified life against outside business interests. We have to promote small businesses.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 3

Paul Strong

Age: 45

Occupation: Accountant

Time in Steamboat: 13 years

Q: How do you see the future of development and growth in Steamboat?

A: We all would like to manage growth. On the flip side, I am concerned that when you restrict the supply of something, the prices go up. That affects affordable housing and the price of new development. We need to pay attention to what makes Steamboat a real community and make sure that people who work in the service industry can live here.

Q: What impact do you think you will have on the city as a member of City Council?

A: As an accountant, I think I can help the fiscal responsibility of the city. I also want to see the community area plan approved and implemented.

Q: Would you consider setting a livable wage for Steamboat?

A: Other cities have set livable wage standards for businesses they give funding to. I would consider something like that, but not setting a figure across the board. As an accountant, I've seen a lot of businesses struggling and if those people go out of business, we will end up having fewer jobs.

Q: How much respect do you have for teenage opinion?

A: I have a lot of respect for it, but I don't hear a lot of it. I work with a few teens, but we tend not to talk about politics. We talk more about what kind of music they like. Unfortunately, our meetings are long and tedious, so we don't get a lot of youth attendance.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

A: An eclectic mix -- jazz, classical, rock, blues. Everything from Elvis to Evanescence. My favorite music is from the late '70s and early '80s. That's when I was in college.

Q: Why would an 18-year-old vote for you?

A: Because I try to listen to all sides and weigh the different opinions.

Q: Would you support a skate park going into the Bear River Parcel?

A: I don't know if that is the right place. We definitely need a new, better skate park.

Q: Do you favor bringing back String Cheese Incident?

A: I have no problem with String Cheese Incident.

Q: What's the most important issue facing the community?

A: How Steamboat grows -- where and how fast.

CITY COUNCIL, AT-LARGE

Steve Ivancie

Age: 48

Occupation: Project manager for Jake's Drafting Service

Time in Steamboat: 23 years

Q: How do you see the future of development and growth in Steamboat?

A: I feel growth and development need to be managed and controlled. It wouldn't be healthy to completely stop it. It can't be allowed to just continue unmanaged, and we have many tools to manage and direct growth. It's how we choose to use them that's important.

Q: What impact do you think you will have on the city as a member of City Council?

A: I am bringing the perspective of a working-class family man and long-time local.

Q: Would you consider setting a livable wage for Steamboat?

A: I think it's a very worthy concept. The difficulty is convincing businesses that have become used to paying low wages that it's in their best interest in the long term to attract good employees and to allow people to live where they work. Paying a livable is an important cog in the social contract.

Q: How much respect do you have for teenage opinion?

A: I have a lot of respect for informed teenage opinion.

Q: Do you think about the next generation when you make decisions?

A: Absolutely. I have a 13-year-old daughter. We have a responsibility to them to leave our community and our world as a better place for them."

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

A: I love it all. My co-workers are leading me down the country and Western road. I am also a product of the '60s: The Who, Jethro Tull.

Q: Why would an 18-year-old vote for you?

A: I want to ensure they can live and work in the community they grew up in. I want to make sure this town remains inclusive to everyone.

Q: Would you support a skate park going into the Bear River Parcel?

A: I think it would be very appropriate as long as the facility is well used and maintained and whoever uses it takes responsibility for it.

Q: Do you favor bringing back String Cheese Incident?

A: Absolutely.

Q: What's the most important issue facing the community?

A: How we raise revenue in an equitable way for all the member of our community and how we spend it.

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