Thursday, November 5, 2009
Steamboat Springs Cari Hermacinski is making no secret of her aspirations to be the next president of the Steamboat Springs City Council.
Hermacinski won re-election Tuesday against former City Council President Kevin Bennett.
Kenny Reisman and Jim Engelken, who also is a former councilman, won their races and will be the only new members to join the body when it meets Tuesday for the first time since the election and begins to chart a course for the next two years.
"I'd like to. I'd love that challenge," Hermacinski said Wednesday about the prospect of becoming the next council president. "That's what I've been practicing for the past couple years."
Hermacinski was referring to the fact she has served as president pro tem under current City Council President Loui Antonucci since she was elected in 2007. Antonucci is leaving the council. The City Council president runs council meetings and, with the president pro tem, sets council agendas.
Councilman Jon Quinn said Hermacinski has his support.
"She's very detail-oriented and very knowledgeable," Quinn said. "She's always extremely prepared and insightful."
Other council members contacted Wednesday would not comment on whom they would like to see as president. However, Reisman and Councilman Scott Myller did disqualify themselves from consideration.
The selection of a council president and president pro tem is on the agenda for a mostly ceremonial council meeting Tuesday, when outgoing City Council members Antonucci and Steve Ivancie will say goodbye, and the new council members will take an oath of office.
The transition from one council to the next looks to be much less dramatic than in 2007, when all incumbents were defeated, and five new members joined the body and immediately set out to undo some policies and decisions of the previous council.
"I don't think you'll see a dramatic shift in terms of policy direction," Quinn said. "I'm just glad (the election is) over, frankly, and I'm excited to move forward with this group."
Although Tuesday's meeting mostly will consist of orientation and formalities, the council will dive into several substantive issues at its Nov. 17 meeting. Items tentatively scheduled on that agenda include Routt County Regional Building Department fee increases, interviews of applicants to the Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Committee, requests for increased zoning at the base of Steamboat Ski Area and two ordinances related to changes to the city's affordable housing ordinance.
Engelken, whose wife, Nancy, is the city's community housing coordinator, said he would decide whether to step down regarding issues involving his wife on a case-by-case basis. For example, if the council is asked to review a development proposal with a controversial community housing plan, and his wife has made a recommendation, Engelken said he would step down.
"But if it is a policy issue," Engelken said, "I would like to take part in that."
Members of the new council said economic and growth issues are dominating their priority lists. Hermacinski said one of her top priorities is to engage in a review of city regulations that might be making it harder to do business in Steamboat.
"What I would like the council to do is, let's put out a call to the community and ask if there are any things the city is doing that makes it hard to live and work here," Hermacinski said.
If any such regulations are found, Hermacinski said the city should look at whether it is feasible to lift them at least until the economy improves.
Myller said that if petitioners gather enough signatures and the Steamboat 700 annexation is subsequently defeated in a citywide vote, council members will discuss how the city's long-term needs can be accommodated without expanding city limits.
"If the community doesn't want to grow, I think we have some things to do," Myller said.
Engelken said council members would need to monitor the city's revenues closely and make budget adjustments if necessary. Reisman said his top priority is to work with developers, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and others to come up with ideas to jump-start the economy.