Bentley, Hughes square off in council's District 2

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Candidates forum

City Council District 2 (four years)

City Council District 2 (four years)

Meg Bentley

Age: 63

Occupation: Professional Organizer

Historic preservation: "I think that preservation of historic Old Town homes should be left up to the homeowners, most of whom are motivated, on their own, to maintain the character of their homes. I think it would be worthwhile for the city to help fund the balance of the survey of homes in Old Town which might qualify to be recognized as historic. With the input of Old Town residents, I would like to consider increasing setbacks or limiting floor area ratios and overall height for new houses built on consolidated lots. This would maintain the scale of Old Town homes and allow the eclectic nature of that area of our town to remain intact."

Traffic: "Immediate things for City Council to do: support public transportation and specifically the Main Street buses between Third Street and the Transit Center; build a public parking structure (pay parking) downtown; sequence all the lights on Lincoln Avenue between Third Street and Elk River Road so that traffic can flow consistently : and then maintain that sequencing year-round."

Paul Hughes

Age: 64

Occupation: Mediator, semi-retired

Historic preservation: "If the community identifies a house as genuinely of community-wide historic interest, the City should negotiate an historic preservation easement on that property. The community would be assured that the structure wouldn't be torn down and would be cared for. The owners would have access to a pool of public money for when their "historic" house needs major repairs or restoration. The easement would be voluntary but would run with the property thereafter."

Traffic: "There is no one step that will alleviate our traffic problem including building a bypass. Clearly, we cannot solve the problem by merely adding capacity. We must also reduce the number of trips per day and offer alternative forms of transportation. We need to assemble a group of citizens who represent all parts of the traveling spectrum, put them together with traffic experts from CDOT and the private sector, and put onto the table every conceivable realistic step. Those steps :include reconfiguring Lincoln Avenue, building off-street parking, expanding the bus system, looking into self-propelled railroad cars between here and Craig, a bypass in short, everything we can imagine."

— There is no shortage of administrative and professional experience in the race for a District 2 seat on the Steamboat Springs City Council.

Paul Hughes, 64, served as Steamboat Springs' city manager from 1998 to December 2005, capping more than two decades of service in municipal government. Meg Bentley, 63, is a founder of The Playworks Preschool, a co-owner of Steamboat Aviation, and a former member of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's Board of Directors.

Hughes said his knowledge of city resources, staffing and policies would be an enormous asset for the City Council.

"I know more about municipal operations in general, and Steamboat Springs operations in particular, than any other council candidate or any existing council member," Hughes said. "I gained that knowledge in 35 years as a manager, 21 of them in municipal government, and seven of those as the city manager right here. ... I believe that my experience can provide City Council with expertise that it has never had before."

Bentley focused on her professional experience in a variety of work environments.

"I know what it is like to own a business here," Bentley said. "I have been in the lodging business : and started a consulting business based in Steamboat Springs. My statewide business and personal coaching consulting specializes in space design, clutter control and time management."

Bentley and Hughes are currently working to improve conditions in the workplace. Bentley is a professional organizer, and Hughes is starting a mediation practice - a skill he hopes to bring to City Council.

"I'd like to approach community issues as problems to be solved by all, rather than as positions to be defended by some people against others," Hughes said. "I'd like to work within the Vision 2030 process to see what the community's clear vision is for the next 20 to 30 years. : Finally, I'd like council to do less, but to do it better."

Bentley also cited a desire to increase the efficiency of Steamboat's chief governing body.

"I would like to continue to streamline the workings of City Council," Bentley said. "Over and above that, I think the time has come to follow the suggestions of the Growth Management Team from the 2004 Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan to manage "rate and timing" of development in the city. I would also like to increase the range of work force housing choices and opportunities."

Both residents and former public servants said they hold a deep love for the Yampa Valley. Bentley is an avid camper, skier and snowshoer with interests including cooking, green building and landscaping. Hughes said he enjoys tennis, skiing and "everything about every season here."

Which of the two very qualified candidates gets a seat on City Council is up to the voters.

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