Steamboat Springs Kevin Kaminski says his business background and local roots will bring a fresh perspective to the Steamboat Springs City Council. Dick Curtis says his experience on local governmental bodies means he knows how the system works and the important issues the city faces.
Only one of the men will represent Steamboat residents in the council's open District 3 seat.
Kaminski, 36, is president of B & K Distributing, a second-generation family-owned business. He was salutatorian of Steamboat Springs High School's Class of 1987, has two young children and plans to call Steamboat home forever.
If elected, he'll represent a faction of residents not currently represented, Kaminski said.
"I'm young, a business owner, a family man and a local," he said. "I won't just be another cog in the wheel.
"Steamboat Springs has given me everything I have. It's a chance for me to give something back. That's the bottom line," Kaminski said, noting that he's concerned about the future of the city.
"I want (my children) to be able to enjoy Steamboat Springs the way I've enjoyed Steamboat Springs."
Curtis, 60, was born and raised near Boston. He came to the Yampa Valley in 1974 to work on the Hayden Power Plant as an employee of the Stearns-Roger Engineering Co. He returned to Steamboat for good in 1983 and for a decade did contract work with TIC. For the past nine years, Curtis has owned and managed rental property in the area.
An avid long-distance runner and Nordic skier, Curtis has enjoyed time in Routt County. But he said he's worried about the future of the community, particularly given population projections.
"Growth is inevitable, and we can't stop it," he said. "But we can prepare for it."
Since 1999, Curtis has been a member of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, an experience he says will be advantageous if he were elected to the City Council.
"It has been very educational," Curtis said. "I have a good feel for how government works, and I have an understanding of what I'm getting into and the issues."
Curtis said the City Council must do a better job of preparing for what is ahead.
"We need to have better planning strategies for the changes we're going to see in the future," he said. "We're going to see a lot of change."
Sound planning will prevent urban sprawl from afflicting the region, Curtis said, adding that he's a firm believer in maintaining urban growth boundaries. The city needs to identify specific areas for increased density, he said.
Maintaining Steamboat's sense of community should be the No. 1 concern of any City Council member, Kaminski said.
"That's what 90 percent of the people who come here come here for," he said.
Kaminski described the successful model for Steamboat's future as a pyramid, with the foundation being a strong, diverse economy. That, in turn, will lead to better affordability and maintaining the city's unique identity.
Steamboat needs to ensure that tourism remains vibrant as long as it remains the primary economic base of the region, Kaminski said.
Curtis said the city's sales tax-based economy is an issue that needs to be discussed.
"I'm willing to push for these serious discussions," he said.
Curtis and Kaminski agree that Triple Crown Sports has brought positives and negatives to the area.
Until the city can identify another source of steady summer tourism, its relationship with Triple Crown should continue, Kaminski said.
"I'd hate to cut off what we have until we have something to replace it with," he said, adding that he would authorize the use of city funds to help construct a sports complex that Triple Crown could use for its games. Kaminski said those funds would have to be tied to certain restrictions.
Curtis thinks Triple Crown needs to show the community how the sports organization's expansion here will benefit Steamboat and the outlying areas. Any city funding for a Triple Crown-influenced sports complex should be dependent on the location of the facility and who else will benefit from it, he said.
"I think the verdict is still out," Curtis said.
Curtis and Kaminski also agree that the affordable housing issue needs to be better addressed.
"We need to do a much better job," Curtis said. "We've been talking about this issue for a number of years, and we've made some progress, but we can do better."
The City Council should look at inclusionary zoning requirements, including employee housing units and deed-restricted units, for developments within city limits, Curtis said.
He thinks affordable housing should be made available at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
"If we don't have permanent people living there, it's going to be vacant, just like it is today," he said. "I hope to make it a major issue."
He also said the west of Steamboat area is key to bringing affordable housing to the region.
Kaminski said the area's community alliances need to be used to address affordable housing. Deed restrictions, inclusionary zoning and developer incentives need to be explored. He also said the City Council should provide specific direction to planning staff and others about the housing issue.