Election Guide 2013: Kenny Reisman
October 16, 2013
Occupation: employed by Mindful Life
Prior political experience: 4 years on Steamboat Springs City Council
Hometown: Steamboat Springs
Years in Steamboat: 15
Family: wife, two kids
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Civic involvement: youth soccer coach, board chair for Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, representative to Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, representative to Steamboat Springs Teen Council, representative to Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association board of directors
Q. List your top three priorities as a Steamboat Springs City Council member and talk about how you would go about accomplishing them.
A. 1.) Pursue the relocation of our downtown public safety departments. Continue to direct staff to vet locations and opportunities and then narrow down and select a feasible building plan to relocate our downtown police and fire operations.
2.) Continue to give the youth in this community a voice and create an environment that is safe for them. Continue to support the efforts of the Steamboat Springs Teen Council, to encourage participation in this organization and support its efforts to provide great leadership and positive role modeling to others in our community.
3.) Support the city's efforts in becoming a leader in sustainable practices. Continue to support private-public partnerships to make better use of our resources while being able to save money for our citizens through better efficiency and care.
Q. This budget season, the city wants to bring some employees back to a 40-hour workweek and give market raises to some workers for the first time in years. After years of budget cuts and furloughs, what do you think of the city's current level of service and the state of employee pay? What changes should be made, if any?
A.The city has done a great job keeping levels of service high thanks to our leadership and staff. While the furloughs present some challenges to our citizens, there are definite cost savings that cannot be ignored. Management is correct in sorting out which departments need to be back to 40-hour weeks, and which do not. I support their view. Employee pay, while stagnant over the past few years, remains a big expense to the city, and raises need to be looked at based upon the long-term effects to our budgets in future years, and in all likelihood, whether a lack of a raise contributes to the cause of departmental turnover and what the costs associated with that turnover are to the city.
Q. For more than a year, the city has pursued a new public safety campus in a variety of locations. Staff is expected to come back with the latest round of potential sites for council to consider in December. What do you think of the process the city has taken so far? How would you direct staff to continue with this process?
A.Without question, there is a huge need for new public safety facilities to replace the existing downtown police and fire stations now. The process has been fairly rocky, but that is not surprising because of what an important decision this is. Staff needs to pinpoint three or four possible locations, and then, assuming one of these sites fits our needed criteria and can be completed within our budgetary limits, council needs to demonstrate leadership and choose a site and get this project moving forward.
Q. The city's recently approved rules for the sale and use of recreational marijuana are likely to be revisited in the coming years as Amendment 64 is implemented statewide. What do you think of the city's approved rules that zone pot shops out of the downtown commercial district and place restrictions on using the word marijuana in signs for businesses? Should marijuana shops be regulated like liquor stores?
A.The city has done a tremendous job of balancing the issue of medical and recreational marijuana as it is introduced into our community. While the voters clearly want marijuana legalized in our county, they are also cautious about its presence, especially as it relates to minors. Aloha's ads, and the Today's persistent front page photos, have been met with great resistance by many in this community. Our job on council remains as one to balance the needs of the different stakeholders on this issue.
Q. How will you vote on the current council's recommended spending of the lodging tax? Explain why.
A.I sat on the committee to determine the spending of the accommodation tax. It was a long process that was well thought out, well researched and well documented. In the end, I will be voting in favor of this allocation. I think the pursuit of more and diverse trails will benefit this community in many, many ways. The financial numbers support that dollars spent on a thorough and attractive trail system provide a great financial and cultural boost to those communities that have made the similar investment. Some money being portioned for the Yampa Street project will hopefully generate more momentum to create a wonderful experience in that area, as well.
Q. The city has in recent years implemented a new microgrant program. It also provides funding to the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. What should the city's role be in promoting economic development?
A.This question is misleading in that the city's contribution to the Chamber is not economic development but rather a payment to the Chamber as a consultant to generate summer marketing. Regarding true economic development, some of the best things we can do is ensure that our existing assets are well taken care of. Someone wanting to move their business here will do so primarily because of the lifestyle benefits that come with having a business here. We need to ensure those lifestyle benefits do not go away. Likewise, we must ensure that we continue to strengthen our relationships with existing businesses and understand their needs, such as the difficulties that many businesses, including location-neutrals, face due to our inconsistent air service.
Q. In recent years, the city has taken a conservative approach to budgeting and has built up a substantial reserve by doing so. As sales tax revenue here continues to show modest gains in the wake of the recession, what are your budget priorities? How should the city use reserves?
A.We need to use our reserves first and foremost to accomplish my No. 1 priority, which is to find and build a suitable replacement for our current downtown public safety facilities. Our ability to tighten our belts over the past few years allows us to take care of this pressing need that will provide great benefit to our community.
Open-ended statement: It has been a pleasure to serve on City Council for the past four years, and I am excited to continue my time in public office. As always, please feel free to reach me with any questions or comments at email@example.com.