City Council candidate Kevin Bennett spoke during Steamboat Springs City Council's meeting with the residents of West Acres Mobile Home Park on Tuesday and used the opportunity to criticize Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski, his opponent in this year's election. Some found the move distasteful.

Photo by John F. Russell

City Council candidate Kevin Bennett spoke during Steamboat Springs City Council's meeting with the residents of West Acres Mobile Home Park on Tuesday and used the opportunity to criticize Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski, his opponent in this year's election. Some found the move distasteful.

Kevin Bennett's comments stir controversy, rebuttals

Council candidate speaks out at Tuesday meeting

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Election 2009

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

— City Council candidate Kevin Bennett provided what was perhaps the most heated moment of an emotional Tuesday night meeting between the Steamboat Springs City Council and the residents of West Acres Mobile Home Park.

The residents are protesting the planned construction of the New Victory Highway through greenbelts associated with the mobile home park. During public comment, Bennett spoke in support of the residents, decried the use of public money to construct the road and also took the opportunity to level criticisms at Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski, his opponent in the November election. Among other comments, Bennett said Hermacinski shared responsibility for the road's current alignment and accused her of holding inappropriate private meetings with the developers of Steamboat 700.

Hermacinski shot back in defense after Bennett left the podium, and City Council President Loui Antonucci requested that election issues not be allowed to cloud the serious discussion.

Bennett's behavior drew criticism from Hermacinski and other council members.

"I was disappointed that I thought he was turning it into a campaign platform," Hermacinski said. "We should confine that debate to the forums scheduled for that and not when we're conducting the business of the community."

Antonucci, who has served a combined 12 years on City Council, said Wednesday that he had never seen anything like Tuesday's remarks from Bennett at City Council meetings during election season.

"I thought it was kind of inappropriate," Antonucci said. "People don't usually come to City Council as an election forum."

On Wednesday, Bennett explained himself and expressed some regret.

"I probably overreacted," Bennett said. "My comments probably were not on subject and probably should have been held to another forum."

Councilman Jon Quinn - who has publicly endorsed Hermacinski in the race for a four-year, District 1 seat in this year's City Council election - leveled some of the heaviest criticisms against Bennett. Quinn said he thought the former council president was being hypocritical. A Bennett-led council moved the proposed alignment for New Victory Highway to its current location a decade ago.

Bennett said Wednesday it was precisely this point that brought him to the podium. Upon arriving at the meeting, Bennett said West Acres residents told him that council members were trying to deny responsibility for the New Victory Highway problem by blaming it on him and previous councils. Bennett said he felt the need to note that the plan stayed in place after ample opportunities for review and change, most notably during the city's 2006 update of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. The update was undertaken during Hermacinski's tenure on the city Planning Commission, but Hermacinski said she missed the final vote on it because she was in a Denver hospital with her infant daughter.

"I took the opportunity to speak to all the West Acres residents in the room to set the record straight," Bennett said. "I felt it necessary to."

On Wednesday, Bennett also shot back at Quinn. Bennett claimed the council member approached him after the meeting and launched into a profane tirade.

"Having chaired over 300 public meetings, I've never yelled obscenities at a speaker after the meeting," Bennett said.

Quinn acknowledged the confrontation after the meeting, but denied using the words Bennett attributed to him.

"That's a bit of a stretch, but I told him I thought it was inappropriate," Quinn said. "What I saw last night was Kevin saw a political opportunity. I don't like playing that way, and I think it's inappropriate."

Comments

steamboatsprings 4 years, 7 months ago

Kevin needs to show some maturity here. To come in and criticize an alignment that was made during his tenure as president, make a public meeting a campaign forum and accuse Jon Quinn of profanities is an early preview for everyone of what kind of behavior we can expect. Anyone that knows Jon Quinn even a little know he wouldn't launch into a tiradee, that is much more in line with Kevin's character and performance that night.

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Paul Hughes 4 years, 7 months ago

The fact is that it was Kevin and his council that moved the highway alignment from the south side of West End Village to the north side that abuts the trailer park. They did it at the request of Kevin's friend Rob Dick, who started the West End Village development and said he could get more "affordable" lots into the project if the highway path were moved. So Kevin is blaming Cari for not changing what he did? That makes no sense.

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John Barrett 4 years, 7 months ago

Mr Bennett First, thank you for giving Steamboat Springs a demonstration of the maturity and character you intend to bring to the City Council.

I am not into all of the politics, but you could not have done a better job of endorsing Cari. Not sure that was your plan?

When your "apology" is; "I probably overreacted, My comments probably were not on subject and probably should have been held to another forum."

Since you used the word PROBABLY 3 times in 1 sentence ...well I ABSOLUTELY want my elected officials to know how to manage their reactions and to understand the forum they are in. This seems to be an on-going issue here in Steamboat with all the people trying to help our community.

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caplka 4 years, 7 months ago

Bennet:

You are taking your self much to serious. I have known you since my arrival to SS in 1974. I have seen you both in social, business, and private life. Needless to say we weren't all saints in the early days. For some reason you are on a quest to get involved in city politics and feel you have this self appointed power to rant at people.

I for one want to know why you are so zealous in this attempt to get elected.

I ask you one question: Do you and another individual running for city council; have any vested interest in land development west of SS or in the Hayden area?

Do you feel remarks made about the 700 project work in your business interests. I ask that all this information be put on the table before you condemn a hard working honest council person.

Thank you,

Larry Kaminski

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untamedShrewd 4 years, 7 months ago

People "...are respectable only as they respect." Bennett is another fine example of the latest of those speaking out in poor taste. And then being quick to appoligize as if it's Okay: Congressman Wilson, Kanye West, and Serena Williams. Bite your tongue next time. My vote is for Cari.

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Amy Harris 4 years, 7 months ago

People are tired of the kind of political games that Kevin Bennett is playing here- my vote is for Cari. She works hard at a very difficult and demanding job.

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greenwash 4 years, 7 months ago

They all seem pretty lame to me.

Its like the blind leading the blind.

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David Carrick 4 years, 7 months ago

UntamedShrewd, in your list you left off the name of President Obama, and his "off the record" comment about Kanye West.

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Zac Brennan 4 years, 7 months ago

Good question, Larry. Transparency in government should not just be a 'concept'.

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Fortboat 4 years, 6 months ago

Kevin has already proven that he is an effective leader at this difficult and demanding job. I, for one, am glad that he is speaking out for the West Acres residents.

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steamboatsprings 4 years, 6 months ago

This is a great and unfortunately pretty accurate example of Kevin's leadership style.

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