The room was packed Wednesday for the First Impressions of Routt County candidates forum in the Routt County Courthouse.

Photo by John F. Russell

The room was packed Wednesday for the First Impressions of Routt County candidates forum in the Routt County Courthouse.

Steamboat City Council, school board candidates address issues at First Impressions forum


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 or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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Scott Ford 3 years, 7 months ago

The comment I made at the beginning and close of the forum today was that I will likely frustrate some people because of two philosophies at my core when making decisions regarding the use of taxpayers’ funds: 1). Great caution needs to be exercised when City resources extend beyond providing essential services and maintaining existing City assets. 2). When resources (taxpayers’ monies) are at stake we must understand clearly what the desired outcome is and how it is going to be measured.

I know there is a perspective that a return on investment (ROI) does not always matter. I believe that it does because real taxpayer dollars are being spent. The City does not own these taxes - the people do. I am confident this will be an ongoing debate within City Council. It promises to be interesting.

I realize that not everything that can be measured is meaningful and not everything meaningful can be measured. However, this is where judgment is necessary to know the difference. Without this judgment it is possible to spend money on problems hoping for improvement and never be sure it made the desired difference.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 7 months ago

It is well known that people tend to believe the cost of something is justified by the amount being asked. Any number of wineries have learned that offering a good wine at a good price leads to customers thinking it is a cheap wine. But offering the same wine at a premium price with a marketing campaign increases volume sales because now people believe it is a premium wine.

When government money is being spent then the actual value should be attempted to be determined and not the marketing value of doing what is being hyped as being popular.

Why is the city giving money to YVHA? So YVHA can continue to make payments on Elk River parcel and figure out what to do with it before the latest interest only period expires and YVHA is again financially crushed when it has to make payments of principal and the interest rate adjusts higher?

More important, city has yet to explain why a new police station is expected to cost $500 per sq ft.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

Just to clarify, the fee waivers I suggested were not for people in need, rather for anyone who brings children, including parents, caregivers, mentors,etc. The Old Town Hot Springs already does this for children enrolled in Partners, much to their credit.

It will simply be more meaningful to those in need, just like the grocery tax rebate. I would not tie the eligibility to income level, anyone may have the same dollar value of benefit, but some value dollars more as they have far fewer

PS Pilot staff, I would appreciate a correction in the paper. I think the difference is significant.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

This story has gone off the active list without a correction i n the online version.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

Corrections in the online edition often happen within hours. A whole business day has passed since I pointed out the error in via this forum.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

Maybe this is not the proper means for making a correction request, but our new editor told me she sees everything that appears here.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

Too late for any changes to tomorrows print edition, I'll wait and see if it is there before I take further action. It would not be such a big deal except it completely reverses the meaning of my statement.


John Fielding 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank you Michael for the correction and the phone call this afternoon. As we discussed, it was an easy misinterpretation to have made, as we were responding to questions about how to help address challenges faced by children of families in need.

I supplemented the suggestion with the concept that people who volunteer as mentors or caregivers could be encouraged to do so by free access to facilities such as Howelsen Hill or the skate rink, maybe a "Gold Medallion" type pass could work. It would sure be great if Skicorp could lead the way in such efforts to support youth at risk.


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