Steamboat Springs Former Steamboat Springs City Councilman Jim Engelken won a return to city leadership Tuesday, defeating political newcomer Kyle Pietras for the council's two-year, at-large seat.
Engelken collected 1,787 votes to Pietras' 1,382, or about 56 and 44 percent, respectively.
"Well, I'm going back to work," Engelken said Tuesday night. "I'd like to thank everybody who supported me."
Engelken, 51, served on City Council from 1995 to 2001. He has said his chief accomplishments during that time included preservation of open space, expanding Steamboat Springs Transit and building a vigorous grant program for local projects. Looking ahead to his next term, Engelken said Tuesday night that the redevelopment of Ski Time Square tops his list of issues to tackle.
"I'd like to see that done with a lot of thought toward the future, about what makes for an energetic economic situation up there," he said. "We need density; we need economic synergy."
The redevelopment should focus on "the long-term health of the community rather than just the short-term benefits of whoever is making the proposal," he said.
Engelken ran a campaign that was strongly critical of the current City Council, which he described as "very aggressively pro-growth." As examples, he cited height variances allowed at the new Thunderhead development and the sweeping demolition of Ski Time Square.
That council hasn't changed much. Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski won re-election via the District 1 seat, and District 2 candidate Kenny Reisman defeated Ken Solomon, who ran on a platform similar to Engelken's. Engelken acknowledged that his views could place him in a minority on the new City Council.
"Boy, on some issues I think that's probably true," he said. "I can tell you in my first experience on City Council it was a pretty diverse group, and we went a full year before a split vote fell on the same lines. : That's the kind of council that I think is representative of the community, and it's hard to predict whether that's the kind of council we're going to have here or not."
Engelken raised $2,553 in campaign contributions through Oct. 25, compared to Pietras' total of $3,717, which includes about $1,400 Pietras contributed to his own campaign.
Engelken moved to Steamboat Springs in 1979 as a Safeway employee. He has worked at the grocery store since then and is currently its dairy manager.
Engelken served on a local water commission earlier this decade and was an original and longtime board member of the Regional Affordable Living Foundation, the precursor to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. Engelken's wife, Nancy, is the city's community housing coordinator.
Pietras said this fall's campaign taught him a great deal about city issues and public life.
"I had a lot of fun, and I definitely put myself out of my comfort level," Pietras said Tuesday. "I learned a lot."
Pietras, 39, owns a landscaping business and lives in the Brooklyn neighborhood with his family.