Field set for Steamboat Springs City Council election
August 28, 2013
Steamboat Springs — The field is set for the November Steamboat Springs City Council race, and all the action will be in District 1 where four new candidates are vying for a seat.
Some last-minute developments, including incumbent Kevin Kaminski not filing for the race as originally planned, means Scott Ford and incumbent Kenny Reisman won’t face any challengers in their District 2 and at-large seats, respectively.
Reisman said he made the switch from District 2 to the at-large seat to give him and his family the flexibility to move out of his home district and not lose his seat.
Kaminski was planning to run against Ford as recently as last week but couldn’t be reached Wednesday to discuss why he did not file.
Incumbent Walter Magill is running unopposed in District 3.
It is Cari Hermacinski’s District 1 seat that has drawn all of the outside interest.
The candidates trying to succeed the term-limited council member include Tony Connell, the vice president of Connell Resources; Clark Davidson, a tax preparer and attorney; John Fielding, a retired contractor; and Toby Spikes, a property manager who also restores classic cars.
Connell said he’s been involved in his community for a long time, and he thinks it’s now time for him to step up and serve it as a City Council member.
He already has a vision for what type of councilman he would be.
"City Council’s role should be more in visioning, more in budgeting, more in capital planning and less in micromanaging," he said. "We have a good city staff, and I’m not going to be the kind of council member that’s down there taking staff time on my personal agendas. I think setting strategy, setting policy — that’s where council needs to focus."
Connell has lived in Steamboat full time since 1992, and currently serves as the vice president of Connell Resources. He has served on the board of directors for Yampa Valley Medical Center since 2005 and currently serves as vice chairman.
He also has served on the city’s planning commission at a time it rewrote the development code.
"I think my business experience and my experience with Yampa Valley Medical Center will be valuable to the council if I’m elected," he said noting he has shown he can lead in such areas as strategic planning, fiscal budgeting and fiscal restraint.
Connell’s wife, Karen, is a tennis pro who also teaches Zumba and fitness classes at Colorado Mountain College.
They have three children who attend school in the Steamboat Springs School District.
Connell lives in West End Village, which he developed with his family.
He also has served as a basketball coach and a ski coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
Davidson has experienced Steamboat Springs through three unique viewpoints in his life.
He lived here as a ski bum in his 20s.
He came back as a tourist for a number of years.
Now he lives here as a professional raising a family.
He said Wednesday that he’s interested in helping to realize a vision for Steamboat that includes maintaining the community’s core assets that include Howelsen Hill.
"I’m someone who believes our community assets are the best economic drivers whether it’s for tourism or for the growth of location-neutral business owners, second-home owners and retirees," he said.
Davidson said he thinks the city’s sales tax revenue will continue to go up if the overall economy continues to improve.
"I think it’s important in those years to be careful how you spend your money," he said.
Davidson currently runs Davidson Tax Co., serving as a tax preparer and attorney. He also is the co-owner of Steaming Bean Coffee Co. on Lincoln Avenue.
He previously has served as a board member and executive director for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council.
He said the experience helped him learn a lot about the local arts community and how much nonprofits do in Steamboat.
He and his wife, Sari, have a 5-year-old daughter, Bella, who starts kindergarten Thursday.
This City Council race won’t be the first for Fielding.
The retired build contractor ran unsuccessfully in 2011 on a platform to alleviate the negative impact of city regulations on individuals and businesses.
He said Wednesday that he still very much wants to become a council member and help find a way to make it easier for citizens to interact with and get results from their city government.
To do that, he proposes the city appoint or elect a new consumer advocate who would work independently on behalf of those who require city services.
"We need to develop some means by which the people who feel they are not getting anywhere with the city on reasonable issues have an advocate," he said.
He said he feels the current council and staff is "not really meeting the needs of the citizens," and he hopes to be able to correct that.
Fielding has lived in Steamboat for 14 years.
He served on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission in 2007.
Spikes said Wednesday that he is running because he likes his community, and he wants to be able to continue to enjoy all aspects of his community.
The longtime local said he would make a good city council member because he knows what it’s like to build a business from the ground up.
"I’ve done everything," he said. "I’ve bought myself equipment. I’ve managed personnel. I’ve been a laborer. I’ve been on the ground floor. I’ve owned a business in Steamboat. I’ve moved snow and found places to put it."
He said his business experience, which spans nearly 20 years in Steamboat, gives him "a good overview of how the city works."
Spikes owned Steamboat Action Motorsports on Shield Drive for eight years before he sold it in 2006. Today, he manages property and restores old and classic cars.
"There are a lot of aspects of city government that are somewhat business like," he said. "And I do have some business experience."
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com