Steamboat Springs City Council members hoping more residents will apply for open council seat | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs City Council members hoping more residents will apply for open council seat

Scott Franz

Like attending groundbreakings and advancing city policy? The Steamboat Springs City Council might be for you.

— Only two residents have applied to replace Steamboat Springs City Councilman Tony Connell ahead of next week's application deadline.

The city's elected officials are hoping more applicants who live in District 1 will step forward in the next few days for a chance to serve.

Residents in the district, which includes most of the downtown area and runs from Fifth Street to the western city limits, still have until 5 p.m. Feb. 7 to turn in an application for the seat.

Whoever is chosen will spend at least the next nine months helping the council plan for a new shared law enforcement facility, shape the future of Howelsen Hill and join the council's ongoing effort to improve community trust in the wake of some controversies in city government.

Regular City Council members are also compensated to the tune of $842 per month and receive health insurance benefits from the city.

"I would hope there are more than two applicants," Councilwoman Heather Sloop said, adding she thinks a larger applicant pool would benefit the council, which will have to choose a candidate members think is representative of the city.

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Sloop said she has talked to two additional residents who might be submitting applications before the deadline.

But before they apply, Sloop said these prospective council members wanted to discuss the work-life balance for serving on council.

Council members meet two to three times per month and must also serve on subcommittees.

How much time goes into serving on council?

It depends on which member is asked.

"It's variable, depending on the person and what type of learner they are and how they literally can absorb information," Sloop said. "It's a sliding scale. It can go anywhere from 10 to 12 hours per week to 25 to 30."

Council President Pro Tem Jason Lacy said that, including time spent in meetings, he will put in about 60 hours for council-related duties during a slower month and up to 80 hours during a normal month.

Council members are also tasked with digesting a lot of information, and their agenda packets can sometimes total hundreds of pages.

"Typically, I read my packet three times," Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said. "I skim it, I read it as I put it in my ring binder and I look through it a third time as I (write) questions and notes."

Meyer estimated she spends an average of 20 hours per week on council responsibilities.

Some members also take occasional trips to Denver for meetings or training sessions.

"It's a time commitment, and obviously, it's a night time time commitment," Meyer said, noting some council meetings have lasted as long as six to seven hours on Tuesday nights.

Council members are currently aiming to shorten the length of their meetings, and they've seen some success in that area so far this year.

The two men who have already applied for the open council job are familiar faces in District 1 and ran in the last election for the seat in 2015.

Rich Levy, a message therapist and former wilderness forest ranger, said in his application he wants to emphasize the human element and bring accountability and transparency to the council.

He said he also wants to ensure the public's interest is represented on the dais.

Levy is currently vice chairman of the city's planning commission.

Mike Shaler, a leadership consultant, thinks his long career of leading and managing people has prepared him to serve on the council.

Shaler has been CEO of the Steamboat Leadership Institute since 1992.

When the application deadline has passed and all of the applicants have stepped forward, Steamboat Today will announce the finalized list and reach out to the candidates for a story.

City Clerk Julie Franklin said Friday the city has been "shaking the trees" trying to find prospective applicants for the council seat.

Whoever is appointed to the council seat will serve until the seat is up for election in November.

The current council will interview candidates Feb. 14 and decide who they want to join them on the dais.

Connell, who was elected in 2013, announced last month that he planned to resign Feb. 14 due to increased demands at work.

He also wants to spend more time with his family.

Connell will be stepping down about nine months shy of the end of his first term.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10