New Steamboat Springs City Council President Loui Antonucci says Nov. 6 marked the first time in city history - or at least since Steamboat became a home-rule charter - that residents elected five new council members.
While it's clear voters wanted change, the big unknown is what that change will be and how the council will go about enacting it.
We think the new council's first decision - appointing Antonucci as president - was a wise one. Antonucci brings experience and institutional knowledge to a group of mostly young, inexperienced council members. He has lived in Steamboat since the mid-1970s and was first elected to the council in 1989. After losing a re-election bid in 1993, Antonucci returned to local politics in 2001 when he defeated Ken Brenner for the District 2 seat. Antonucci staved off challengers Warren Harner and Charles McConnell in the 2005 election.
Antonucci has been labeled "pro-growth" in the past because of his close associations with the business, development and real estate industries. He is the former owner of Old Town Pub, and is a partner in Old Town Realty as well as a contractor.
Regardless, Antonucci's experience in those fields - particularly as it pertains to housing needs and workforce recruitment and retention - can be valuable to both fellow council members and Steamboat residents.
He certainly has his work cut out for him. Past councils, including the most recent one, could be inefficient and, at times, overly ambitious. Many meetings stretched late into the night and lacked the structure needed to keep members focused.
Antonucci says he wants the council to limit its meetings to three times a month - and have them end at a reasonable hour. He also has expressed a desire to keep council members on task and for the council to give clear direction to city staff.
Antonucci also appears to be learning from other mistakes of past councils. He wants the council to be open in conducting its business and accessible to the public. He expressed a desire to gather input from the community before making important decisions.
He's on the right track, and we hope he can deliver on these goals. It's worth reminding Antonucci and other council members that open government is the best government, and the law requires - in almost all cases - that the public's business be conducted in public.
Of course, there will be roles for Antonucci that expand beyond the council chambers, including liaison between the city and Routt County. The two entities have had an often-adversarial relationship, and we'd like to see that improve. The presence of a new City Council provides an opportunity for the mending to begin.
Antonucci has tentatively scheduled a council retreat for early December. It will be interesting, and telling, to see what issues this new council identifies as its top priorities. Whatever they are, a commitment from the council to discuss and act on those issues in an efficient, open and thoughtful manner will be something all residents can support.