Steamboat Springs Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify a policy suggested by John Fielding during the forum.
In one of the first election forums of the season, Steamboat Springs City Council and school board candidates were asked to address issues affecting education, young families and poverty during the event hosted by First Impressions of Routt County.
A total of 11 candidates for Steamboat Springs City Council, Steamboat Springs School Board and Hayden School Board attended the forum Wednesday afternoon.
In the race for Steamboat Springs School Board District 1, candidates Roger Good and Tony Rosso found they had much in common. Both cited negative outside influences as a major challenge to students and youths in Routt County. Good specifically mentioned bullying in the age of social media as a new phenomenon that can significantly damage a child’s self-esteem.
Rosso said funding always will be a challenge when trying to support programs and children, and Good said prioritization and measurement are key.
“Where do you want to get to?” Good said. “How will you know if you're making progress?”
Joey Andrew, a candidate for the Steamboat Springs School Board District 2 seat, stressed planning for funds that are earmarked for education after the passage of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana. Andrew’s competition in District 2, Randy Homan, was not present.
Hayden School District has gone to at-large seats for its School Board, and current President Brian Hoza and new candidate Medora Fralick were present. Tim Frentress and Sharon Johnson, who also are running for the three available at-large seats, were not present.
Hoza said maintaining kindergarten services in the Hayden area and improving day care offerings were vital to helping Routt County residents struggling financially. Fralick said it was important to find dedicated funding sources for the programs that serve those residents.
Tony Connell, John Fielding and Clark Davidson are running for the Steamboat Springs City Council District 1 seat, and all were present Wednesday.
Connell and Fielding cited the level of drug and alcohol abuse in Steamboat as a challenge to youths. Fielding said he’d like to see money from retail marijuana go back into mitigation of potential negative effects of the substance. Davidson said programs like First Impressions being a resource for young parents is a great way to positively affect children and their families.
Connell said the best way to affect residents struggling financially in Routt County is to encourage a vibrant economy, noting health care employment went up in recent years while tourism stayed flat.
“We have to welcome new employers,” he said.
Fielding said the city needs to be focused on creating a better business climate and also suggested sales tax rebates for groceries set at a certain limit and waiving fees at certain city recreational areas for those who bring children.
“Work to create a strong, healthy economy benefits everyone,” Davidson said.
Scott Ford, Kenny Reisman and Walter Magill are running unopposed and also attended the forum Wednesday.
Ford focused on the need to set the desired outcomes of policy and measuring to make sure the goals are met. He said the labor force participation rate in Routt County shows the economy is returning. A tighter labor market should boost wages, he said, but subsidies to businesses might depress them.
Reisman and Magill said Steamboat’s school calendar is a challenge for working families. Reisman, who at one point was slated to run against Ford, also said the city should understand that return on investment is not only measured in dollars and cents.
The next candidate forum will be hosted by the Routt County Council on Aging and is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
Community members also can see candidates interviewed during the Oct. 4 installment of Pirate Theatre’s Monthly Daily Show. Tickets are available at All That Jazz. The segment also will be broadcast on TV18 and ESPN 98.9 starting Oct. 12.
To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz
Join the Yampa Valley VIP email club