Former Steamboat Springs City Councilman Ken Brenner smiles as he greets supporters Monday evening in front of the Routt County Courthouse. Brenner announced his intent to run for the position of state senator in District 8 this November.

Photo by John F. Russell

Former Steamboat Springs City Councilman Ken Brenner smiles as he greets supporters Monday evening in front of the Routt County Courthouse. Brenner announced his intent to run for the position of state senator in District 8 this November.

Brenner formalizes candidacy

Former councilman vows to protect 'Colorado's playground' in Senate



Brenner announcement

Former Steamboat Springs City Council president Ken Brenner on Monday announced he is running for the state Senate.

Former Steamboat Springs City Council president Ken Brenner on Monday announced he is running for the state Senate.

— Former Steamboat Springs City Councilman Ken Brenner formally announced his candidacy for Senate District 8 in a tour of Northwest Colorado on Monday that concluded in front of supporters at the old Routt County Courthouse.

"I know I can do a great job representing this area," Brenner, a Democrat, told the crowd in an announcement during which he touted himself as the candidate who will take a balanced approach toward energy development and "who believes in preserving our natural resources."

Brenner, a strength and conditioning coach and owner of a sports medicine clinic, said public service is about "hard work and long hours," values he said he learned growing up on the family ranch south of Steamboat. Brenner, a third-generation Routt County resident, also spoke about the tragedy that led him in to politics. In 1991, Brenner's sister Patty was killed while jogging when she was hit by a group of teenagers in a pickup.

"My first response was to put 'Share the Road' signs around Steamboat Springs, alerting motorists to bicycles and pedestrians," Brenner said in a news release announcing his candidacy.

Brenner said he went on to lead a committee that worked with local, state and federal agencies to improve the road where his sister was killed. He said the experience led him into politics because it taught him that partnerships can be made, and so can a difference.

"That ruined me," Brenner joked at the courthouse.

Seventeen years later, Brenner is staking much of his campaign on vows to protect the Western Slope from interests of the Front Range, where the majority of the state's population resides.

"They live there because we're here," Brenner said. "You need a senator in Denver that makes sure we remind them at every opportunity to look out for our best interests."

After the rally, Brenner joined other Democrats at the Steamboat Smokehouse, where he expounded on the importance of preserving Western Slope lifestyles.

"We are Colorado's playground," Brenner said. "Protecting our natural resources is really about being a guardian of our outdoor-recreation lifestyle. That's why we're here. It's the one thing, regardless of your affiliation, that we all have in common."

In the race for Sentate District 8 - which includes all of Moffat, Routt, Jackson and Rio Blanco counties, as well as parts of Eagle and Garfield counties - Brenner faces a formidable opponent in Al White, R-Hayden. After first being elected in 2000, White has won the past three campaigns for House District 57, which includes Routt, Moffat, Grand, Garfield, Rio Blanco and Jackson counties. In November 2006, he won a strong victory against Democratic challenger Andy Gold of Tabernash, despite an election that saw widespread victories for Democrats across the county, state and nation. White has won majorities in Routt County in at least his past two elections.

Senate District 8, where Brenner and White are looking to replace term-limited Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, may prove a more competitive environment. In the last election, Taylor barely hung on against Democratic challenger Jay Fetcher, a rancher who coordinates U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar's visits to Routt County. Taylor won by a slim margin of 28,521 votes to 26,896 votes.

On Monday, White said the seven years he already has spent at the state Legislature would prove advantageous.

"I think what gives me an edge is eight years of proven leadership and accomplishment representing Northwest Colorado," said White, who said he has "brought home the bacon for tourism" and been a champion for education. "There's a big difference between making the statement and creating the reality."

Brenner has criticized a proposal White floated last year to help fund education with federal lease revenues from energy development on the Roan Plateau. Brenner has said such revenues need to stay in local communities. White, who has abandoned the proposal in favor of one that would increase state gambling revenues, said Brenner distorted his position and claimed his proposal would have increased revenues to impacted communities first.

"I hope in the campaign, as it moves forward, he relies more on fact and less on misleading information and innuendo in characterizing my position," White said.

White called Brenner's stance on the Roan Plateau - one that calls for directional drilling that would preserve the surface - "radical" and one that puts him at odds with a plan being pushed by Colorado Democrats in the U.S. Congress.

Brenner said Monday that he didn't know enough about the plan being promoted by U.S. Reps. John Salazar and Mark Udall and Sen. Ken Salazar to take a stance on it.

In response to White's experience at the state level, Brenner touted his 10 years on the City Council and other local experience.

"We deliver services in Colorado at the local level," Brenner said. "That's where I've spent my last 10 years. I guarantee I know more about that job."

Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, called Brenner a "good, experienced candidate" who she doesn't expect to be challenged in a primary.

"In general, we're very happy he's stepping forward and running," Waak said. "I think Ken will be a fine candidate."

Despite her party's recent lack of success in Northwest Colorado, Waak said Senate District 8 is winnable.

"I think this is a new day," Waak said. "There's all kinds of possibilities out there. : I think the most important thing for all of us is to make sure whoever's running is out listening to the voters. Republicans don't feel they've been responded to."


another_local 9 years, 3 months ago

Might be embarassing when he looses his home town.


another_local 9 years, 3 months ago

I voted democrat for every position on the ballot in the last national election ('06) except one so I am no repulican operative but there is no way I will vote for Ken.

He was the ringleader of the crew we just threw out of city council in the last local election and would have lost even worse than they did if he had been running again.

Al White is a practical, experienced and honorable legislator that has represented the Western Slope effectively for some time. I have no complaints with him. This democrat will be voting repulican in that contest.


ijustlookhi 9 years, 3 months ago

c'mon he seems like a nice guy...I did get a massage from him once...he talked on the phone for a good part of it...pissed me off and I didn't give him a tip.

Seriously...he is that bad? I thought he might be ok vs. Republicans...why is Al so much better?

What is wrong with a water grab for his consituents? Should he of just let it float on to AZ?

Are all you negative people really republican operatives?


digit1964 9 years, 3 months ago

I think he is well qualified.... to run the winter sports club.


yampagov 9 years, 3 months ago

The good news is that Brenner will be too preoccupied in his pursuit of fame (and perks) that he will not have the time to further muck things up here in the Yampa Valley. I wonder if he will hire a private jet with his campaign dollars...


peabrain 9 years, 3 months ago

Sorry Ken, you will have to find another place to don your sport coat because it won't be in the halls of the Capital building.


WZ4EVER 9 years, 3 months ago

Unfortunately, Brenner doesn't have to carry Routt County to win. Those of us who know what he really is and what his personal moral and ethical standards are need to make sure the other counties find out. He touts his ranching heritage and "hard work" on the ranch - ask a real rancher what they think of Ken, ask them about his water grab for the City, ask them about the City's new ability to regulate farming practices in the County. We taxpayers paid to train this guy with all those nights in swanky Denver hotels, dinners, mileage and per diem payments, not to mention the perks he has enjoyed (or tried, ski passes, all that). Ask some of the long-time Democrats here about how he tried to keep Diane off the ballot for County Commissioner. Does anyone think that a guy like this will actually STAND for anything important to this district in the face of big-city lobbyists and all the opportunity for "gifts"? I am looking forward to spreading the word


elphaba 9 years, 3 months ago

Brenner's biggest strength in this campaign is an accident of birth that placed him the Yampa Valley.....Unfortunately for all. Other than that he has nothing that makes me want him as my representative at any level. (and I'm a lifelond Democrat) I agree with justa Good Luck Al!!!!!!!


speakingup 9 years, 3 months ago

ijustlookhi, I think Ken's far from perfect, but he's a decent guy nonetheless and I do believe his heart is in the right place. He is very knowledgeable and has fought hard for the Western slope. He's a vocal supporter for water rights and water and air quality. The negative comments about perks aren't justifiable. His style of governing may not have been a great match for Steamboat, but I think it might serve him and us well on the Front Range. I think he will get things done.

I don't always agree with Ken, but I support his views more than I support Al White's.


NewRes 9 years, 3 months ago

I am amazed at all the negative comments! I have known Ken for many years and his passion for Colorado is exemplary. He will be criticized for his stance against bureaucrats since he vows to protect open land and water, control exponential vacation home growth, and openly opposes abuse of the environment. His personal living is humble and not extravagant, as inferred. Conviction at this level should be cultivated and supported. I hope Ken will succeed with the election, and at least with having his goals heard. Congratulations Ken!!!


markVI 9 years, 3 months ago

I am also amazed at all of these negative comments. I personally know Ken very well and I think that we should all be thankful that he was on council here as long as he was. As far as his "gifts" are concerned, that is nonsense. He skied with the medallion that was available to him through working for the city. His golf experience that was stupidly published in the Today was a measly 9 holes that were compliments of his son working the last three summers at the course. If you looked in the Today the next day you would know that this was corrected. Those don't sound like gifts to me. Out of all of the corrupt politicians out there, we finally have one that is a real stand-up individual. I am so disapointed in what most of you have to say about someone that did so much to prevent our town from turning into another Vail. Thanks Ken. Congratulations!!


markVI 9 years, 3 months ago

To anyone that doesn't know Ken, please formulate your opinions from the video that goes with this article rather than from the comments above.


Scott Wedel 9 years, 3 months ago

Ken Brenner has alienated many people over the years.

I recall him at an Oak Creek Town Board talking about the Emerald Mountain land swap. His response to almost every concern seemed something like "Well, this is the way it has to be" even to specific questions regarding parcels he knew nothing about. Impression at the end of the meeting was that South Routt was giving up some BLM land so that SB could have a large park and that was that. And yet the plan changed before it was adopted.

I also recall last election seeing Al White signs on some people's yards that all other signs were for Democrats. It was because Al White was willing to help the local community without caring that the request came from a local Democratic politician.

Another example is contained within the article. Al White-R supports the Colorado Congressional Democratic plan for the Roan Plateau while Brenner says he doesn't know enough about that plan yet claims to know enough to propose his own solution.

How he can argue that in a race for state senator that a state represenative doesn't have more experience that a city councilman defies common sense.

I think it is a good thing for Ken Brenner that the election is not today. If the Republican party is willing to nominate raging moderates like Al White then the Democrats could lose some elections.

Though, I think Ken Brenner is pretty intelligent and capable of learning the district and campaigning on having better solutions to local issues. He is not there yet and it'd take a lot of work including admitting there is a lot he does not know.


elphaba 9 years, 3 months ago

Ken has been personally vindictive and used his position of "power" on City Council to abuse persons with whom he does not agree. To use a political position to personally damage someone, professionally and financially, as he attempted to do to me, is intolerable. This man does not need to be a Senator.


dave reynolds 9 years, 3 months ago

unfortunately he fits right in..he should call Hilary to be her Al White for the sake of the state ands Routts Rep


waterboy 9 years, 3 months ago

Typical right wing assault on an honest candidate who isn't a creature of the gas and oil industry; let's get a grip here:

Housing: Like Steamboat doesn't have a problem? When does the Ayn Rand set figure out that working people can't afford to live anywhere near Steamboat and that the market isn't going to solve the problem.

Water: Ken was for rcerational water rights that can keep water in the county's waters. Al's idea is let's sell it to the frontrange for golf courses. Check out the rivers and see what Al has done: some are already dried up in the summer.

Roan Plateau: It's not just about drilling, it's about protecting. The GOP controlled House let the companies run roughshod over land owners - drill rigs 150 feet from your house and screw you if you don't like it. benzene in the air and water in garfield County but the companies deny and responsibility/

Mr. White's answer to all this is let's have 24/7 casino gambling! Great, we can be just like Vegas! Been there lately? That a real vision, corrupt government, sprawl, crime bosses and Hos everywhere. The good life but as gar as I am concrned, what goes on there can stay there.

If the blog here is any indication, the republicans will lose this because they are negative, mean spirited and personal. terms like fascist and socialist fall out of your mounths with ease and the country is sick of your vituperative attacks on anyone who suggests that maybe, just maybe, we should protect ourselves against the industries that want to cash out our heritage and make the West into saudia Arabia/Casino land.


Ilike2dv8 9 years, 3 months ago

For those of you who support Ken your loyalty is impressive although misguided. I have watched first hand as this former city council member berated the public, told bold face lies on record and rammed his personal agendas down this community's throat. He made incredibly irresponsible financial decisions which cost this community millions (literally) of dollars and as president of CC he drove a wedge so deep throughout the valley that four of his former city council members lost their seats. He had become so disconnected from this community he stood zero chance of being re-elected and now he wants some real power. I would hope that you would look past your friendship but check his record, read some minutes and ask those who were in the room before you would make the grave mistake of honoring him with your vote. ** Waterboy, nice work on hammering the "Right Wing" assault, your comments were equally harsh making it way obvious where you're coming from. Whatever happened to just doing what's right for your community, state or country...


opinionated 9 years, 3 months ago

Ken Brenner is a hard working, dedicated public servant with convictions who will well serve Steamboat and the western slope as we face tough challenges to our way of life in the future. I have watched him on the city council -- he is a leader who does his homework, studies issues and considers alternatives before making up his mind. He won't answer a question before he knows about the issue just to jump on someone's bandwagon. He strives to be effective and is relentless in his efforts.

Steamboat is a diverse community where opinions are as varied as the issues facing the town. Taking positions in the middle might make him more popular but he knows that housing must be provided for the workforce for the economy to thrive, and that leaders must ensure that development preserves rather than pillages the community. His intentions are sound and good although he is not always as nice and considerate of others as he might be. He is never neutral, and I like that.

I don't like a lot about our political system, including the current race for President bombarding us now, but it takes someone in the Colorado Senate who can play hard ball when needed. The Front Range dominates the state with their population and their seats in our legislature. Their interests are different than ours. They want to take more of our water, and we must stop them. The want to take the tax and lease funds paid by oil and gas companies and spend it fixing their urban problems. Being nice and making everyone happy will not keep them from taking our resources and trashing our lands.

Ken can be the tough, smart, no-nonsense senator we need to protect the quality of life, natural resources and economy of the western slope.


markVI 9 years, 3 months ago

The reason that Ken didn't run again in steamboat was because he was term-limited. Had he run again he would have won again. That is because he cares about the people that he represents before himself. What more can you ask for.


waterboy 9 years, 3 months ago

In 2005, Northwesy Colorado Council of Governments asked voters directly about housing and got the following responses:

Affordable Housing was chosen by 47% of the voters as one of the most important issues. Only Manage growth was a higher choice (58%) on a list of nine issues.

On the same survey, voters were asked "If you were responsible for budgeting $100 of city tax dollars, how would you spend it:

Affordable Housing was the number one choice with an average of $17.01 per respondent higher than any other choice. Purchase Open Space was 2nd, Bike and hike trails, fitness center, Howelsen Hill, teen center, transit and sidewalk improvement, historic preservation all finished behind affordable housing.

When voters were asked to rate the provision of affordable housing on a scale of 1 to 100, they rated the provision of affordable housing at 7%.

When voters were asked to value affordable housing on a scal;e of 1 to 100, they valued at 57. Clearly the voters in 2005 said they wanted more affordable housing than they are getting.

In case you didn't notice my right wing friends, Steamboat has a traffic problem that could be related to the fact that moire and more of the work force has to drive on from Craig to work here. Will the Al White "solution" be a $30 million "bypass" over the hill??

As for Ilike2dv8, I don't think my comments were personal in nature, I didn't use invective (eg liberal fascist") and the facts are there for you to examine: Ken Brenner stood up for real community needs, for keeping water in the river, not corporate interests and the "gaming"industry.

The choice is clear: more of the same old frontrange poilitics, more sprawl or someone who actually hunts and fishes and skis and values the outdoors as more than a place to make a quick buck to be exported.


opinionated 9 years, 3 months ago

sbvor, I'm opinionated, not argumentative. I'm also literate. I read your comments once. Repeating them 3 times doesn't make me agree with them. I still side with Ken and believe that history will look favorably upon his actions as a councilman.


waterboy 9 years, 3 months ago

Hey sbvor:

Check out the NWCCOG website, the survey is there and people want affordable housing. Of course, maybe you don't need it but lots of people who are paying haldf their income for a dismal rental unit would like to live in the places that Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin and other counties have provided.

Calling something socialist or communist or whatever doesn't make it so.

Or do you think median prices of $400,000 for "affordable" housing projects in Routt County is the direction we should go??


ColoradoNative 9 years, 3 months ago

Brenner's record is a joke. It won't even be close. Al White in a landslide.


Matthew Stoddard 9 years, 3 months ago

sbvor- Steamboat (city, which has the majority of Routt voters) usually votes Democrat. Wanna bet Brenner wins the city vote?

$100! Betcha! Of course I don't expect to collect if I win. How will you collect if you win, I wonder?

Everyone on this forum: I hearby am willing to part with $100 if sbvor takes and wins the bet. - Matthew C. Stoddard 17JAN08

Cut and paste, y'all. Let's see if someone's willing to put money to mouth.


annonymous 9 years, 3 months ago

sbvor or shall we say MT, do you have a macro for all that rhetoric? And by the way, "annonymous" is a handle and doesn't need your (sic)


Matthew Stoddard 9 years, 3 months ago

sbvor (sic) or would that be (sick?) Yeah, but I'm 99.9% sure I'm right. I DO want your $100. You are so sure you are always right: put up or shut up! Again- you find a way to dance around being wrong. Too bad you have two left feet.

Another "all talk, no action" statement from the Bore. Whodathunkit?


waterboy 9 years, 3 months ago

I Only wish I could wager on this election but I am not much into the whole casino Al White lifestyle.

As for the 47% not being a majority for affordable housing, the question wasn't yes/no but rate your top picks. 47% of the voters surveyed made it a top pick, more than any other available choice. Does that mean the voters don't want open space, trails or anything elese.

I would like to know what it is that sbvor and the neocons propose for affordable housing/ perhaps more of those "affordable units on US 40 that started at $250,000 and jumped to the $400,000s right away?


waterboy 9 years, 3 months ago

There's a solution: Just build more. Eagle County has 14,000 development approvals on the books but no one is planning to build anything affordable. Developer's aren't stupid. They aren't going to build anything below the market price point and why should they? Would you price your units at $150,000 or $400,000? The demand that forces up the price isn't local, it's national and international.

Do you really want thousands of new units in the valley hoping against hope that the price will come down. What about quality of life, is it the Vegas ;lifestyle that we want?

As for Aspen and such, Vail has almost no affordable housing and yet their prices are sky high. same in Winter park and Breckenridge.

You aren't going to build enough to satisfy the millions of baby boomers and CEOs and others who want to live in the mountains unless you build so many that the quality of life is so degraded that no one will want to live here.


sandmountain 9 years, 3 months ago

Ken Brenner did NOT help improve the Spring Creek Road after his sister was killed. He somehow had enough pull to have the country road closed to vehicular traffic. If every country road were to be closed after someone was killed we would have no county roads left.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.