City Council member Paul Strong announced Monday that he planned to run for the District 3 office on the Routt County Commission.
Commissioner Dan Ellison, a Republican, has one year left to serve his third four-year term; he is not running for re-election. Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, vice chairwoman of the Routt County Planning Commission, filed to run for the seat in November.
Strong, a Republican, is serving his second four-year term on City Council. If he were elected county commissioner, he would step down from his final year on the council, he said. Serving on both entities would be a time strain and a potential conflict of interest, he said.
According to the city's charter, a vacancy on council is filled by a majority vote of the remaining council members.
Strong said he decided to run in part because the office was opening up after 12 years and that he had not seen interest from any other members of the Republican Party.
"I feel like I put my time in on City Council and can help a broader constituency," he said. "My experience in local government can be a benefit to the county."
Strong's experience includes serving as president of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns, treasurer of the Emerald City Opera, a member of the Yampa/White Basin Water Roundtable, co-chairman of First Impressions of Routt County and chairman of the Colorado Municipal League's Tax Policy Committee.
One of the most important issues the county faces is the rising cost of housing in Steamboat Springs, which is driving growth in the rest of the county, Strong said. The growth is leading to issues such as inadequate transportation infrastructure, he said.
"It's creating pressures on those communities that need to be able to dealt with as a valley, as a whole, not as a series of communities," Strong said.
He said he also was concerned about the need to maintain the county's agricultural heritage.
In his last campaign for City Council, Strong focused on two topics: fiscal discipline and approval of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan. Both of those issues have been resolved, he said.
Strong said he thought his experience as a Certified Public Accountant helped city officials strengthen the city's fiscal situation.
"We've done a lot of really good things in the city as far as getting the fiscal house in order," he said. "I feel a lot better about where the city is financially today than I did six years ago."
Strong said he thought that as a community leader, he is a good listener.
"I think a big part of leadership is listening first and having an understanding before making opinions," he said. "I will listen to all sides of an issue, and I put myself on all sides and look at their point of view before making a decision."
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