Since moving to Steamboat Springs in 1991, I have carefully watched our City Council government, wondering whether it was the best system for a town our size. Since that time, our population has doubled. It has become obvious that we have outgrown this system and that we should strongly consider a mayoral-type system of government.
I would like to thank the previous members of the City Council for their countless hours of serving our city. I believe it is a thankless job, and at least half of the constituents will be at odds about any decision that is made. But given the recent issues and activities of our council, one would have to wonder whether we are trying to manage a growing resort community or a three-ring circus.
The latest decision to fire City Manager Paul Hughes is a travesty and a product of special interest of members of our council. The proponents stated it was a timing issue, and I can't think of a more untimely period of doing this to someone than during the holiday season. Hughes is a professional administrator and has been dedicated to serving our community for more than seven years. He should have been allowed to retire with the dignity he deserves. I applaud Loui Antonucci and Paul Strong for their input about this issue. I would ask the other members of the council to leave personal vendettas and egos at the doorstep and really put the well-being of the people of Steamboat and Routt County at the forefront. With the new City Council seats being filled less than 45 days, it is mind boggling as to how a decision such as this could be made. Communication breakdowns are not one-sided, and they are being used as an excuse, which is not being digested very well.
I would ask that the residents of Steamboat and the business leaders of our community band together to pursue a new form of government management that begins with the election of a mayor. This official would be elected by the people and advised by the City Council. This official should be a professional in city management and not an amateur who maintains another profession and represents special interests.
The topic of a mayor has been talked about informally, and now, I am saying it publicly. This is not a decision for the City Council to make, but one for the constituents to make. The process for a mayor should be investigated by the current City Council or a petition presented to them from community members. Clearly, the subject needs to be addressed.