3 out of 4 City Council seats to be contested

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Election 2009

Visit www.steamboatpilot.com/election2009 for complete coverage of this year's races and issues.

Candidates

- District 1 (four years): Cari Hermacinski (at-large incumbent, council president pro tem), Kevin Bennett (former council president)

- District 2 (four years): Kenny Reisman, Ken Solomon

- District 3 (four years): Walter Magill (District 3 incumbent)

- At-large (two years): Jim Engelken (former councilman), Kyle Pietras

- Not up for election: Scott Myller (District 1), Meg Bentley (District 2), Jon Quinn (District 3)

- Leaving council: Loui Antonucci (District 2, council president, term-limited), Steve Ivancie (District 1, term-limited)

— The candidates are set for this year's Steamboat Springs City Council election, and all but one of the races will be contested.

Although this year's campaign is shaping up to be quieter than a 2007 election that saw 11 candidates vie for five open seats, November's election shouldn't lack for excitement. One race pits next-door neighbors against one another; two former city councilmen hope to re-gain seats on the city's governing board; and two newcomers will battle it out for District 2.

Councilman Walter Magill will run unopposed for his four-year, District 3 seat.

Like 2007, however, growth and development issues - particularly the proposed Steamboat 700 project - appear to be the primary focus of candidates. City finances are another likely campaign issue because of the recession and massive city budget cuts.

Semi-retired businessman and former City Council President Kevin Bennett will take on his neighbor, current City Council President Pro Tem Cari Hermacinski in the race for the four-year District 1 seat being vacated by term-limited councilman Steve Ivancie. Hermacinski won the council's two-year, at-large seat in 2007.

Bennett is a critic of the current council, which he thinks is too pro-development.

"I would run as the loyal opposition," he said last month. "I would offer a completely different direction for the city."

Hermacinski disagrees with Bennett's claims that City Council is rushing the annexation of Steamboat 700, which proposes about 2,000 homes over 20 years on about 500 acres west of city limits. Hermacinski said her priorities would be fiscal responsibility and transparent government.

"I think it's a great way to serve the community, and it's been a good challenge for me," she said.

District 2

Two newcomers, Kenny Reisman and Ken Solomon, will face off for the four-year District 2 seat being vacated by term-limited City Council President Loui Antonucci.

Reisman has been preparing himself by attending recent City Council meetings. He also was a member of the Excellence Project, creators of the social host ordinance passed by council in a 4-3 vote earlier this year. The law allows authorities to fine adults found guilty of knowingly providing a location for underage drinking.

Reisman said he is mostly supportive of current council members and Steamboat 700.

"The plans that are in place have called for growth to go in that area and for growth to be concentrated. (Steamboat) 700 accomplishes both of those things," Reisman said last week. "Based upon everything I know, I would vote for it."

Solomon was co-chairman of the 12-member Tax Policy Advisory Board, which was seated by the city in April 2004 to take a comprehensive look at the city's tax structure. Although it offered recommendations for future shortfalls and took a hard look at a city property tax, the Tax Policy Advisory Board did not recommend any changes to the city's tax structure.

Solomon was a vocal opponent of a gravel pit proposal earlier this decade and has made campaign contributions to current council members Ivancie and Meg Bentley and Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush. Solomon could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

At-large seat

In the race for Hermacinski's two-year, at-large seat, former Councilman Jim Engelken will face local landscaper Kyle Pietras. Pietras, a former employee of the Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department and the Steamboat II Water and Sanitation District, said he also supports Steamboat 700 because of its potential to provide jobs and affordable housing.

"I'm kind of a realist," Pietras said. "We need tourists. We need workers working. We need growth in town. Being against growth, it's just not realistic."

Like Bennett, Engelken has been critical of the current City Council. He does not support Steamboat 700 in its current form, particularly because the city would rely on a voluntary real estate transfer tax to pay for the development's requirements for public improvements and affordable housing.

All in the details

The eligibility of all candidates is pending the verification of nominating petitions, which were due to City Hall on Monday. Candidates will have until Thursday to resolve any problems with their petitions, City Clerk Julie Franklin said. The most common problems with petitions involve the 25 signatures of registered voters that candidates are required to obtain. The same person may not sign more than one petition, and all signers must include a physical address that matches their voter registration, among other requirements.

The City Council's seven total seats include two representatives each from District 1, District 2 and District 3 and one at-large seat. District 1 includes western Steamboat and much of Old Town. District 2 includes the mountain area, and District 3 includes southern Steamboat. Although candidates must run for a seat in the district they live in, or the at-large seat, all Steamboat Springs voters will vote on all the City Council races.

Comments

elphaba 5 years, 1 month ago

Ironic that Kevin Bennett is a developer in Ft. Collins and a would-be developer in Hayden but is running on an anti-developer platform here. Would the real Kevin Bennett please stand up?

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Roger Good 5 years, 1 month ago

He was for it before he was against it, or was it against it before he was for it. Wait Based on the Community Alliance both of these are out of town activities so they do not count

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