SILVERTHORNE - Five Silverthorne Town Council hopefuls prioritized a downtown core, a diversified sales tax base and economic stability at a candidate forum Thursday night.
Approximately 25 people attended the panel discussion, during which incumbents Stuart Richardson, Bruce Butler and Ann-Marie Sandquist and newcomers Lisa Knobel and Derrick Fowler took questions on key issues for the town.
The five candidates will compete for four seats in the April 3 election. The top three winners will take four-year seats, while the fourth-highest vote getter will finish out the remainder of a Darrick Wade's term following his resignation last year.
The 90-minute forum gave the candidates an opportunity to make two-minute opening and closing statements and to answer questions from a moderator and constituents.
The contenders took questions on issues from town relations with the Colorado Department of Transportation to pedestrian access to their top priorities, but the development of a downtown core and economic stability were reoccurring themes for all of the candidates.
"We have the downtown core on the west side of Highway 9, which we're working on right now," incumbent Stuart Richardson said when asked about his top-three priorities for the town. "We've worked on it haphazardly in the past but it hasn't come to fruition. We need to get that going."
Following community and stakeholder meetings last year, a non-profit consultant identified the area around 4th Street and Hwy. 9 as a viable location for a future downtown core and produced a report on how to the town could support and grow that core.
All of the candidates listed the establishment of a downtown core among their top-three priorities at the forum and most also mentioned the importance of diversifying the sales tax base, growing and backing the town's business community and creating jobs with the end goal of increasing Silverthorne's economic stability.
"Helping our businesses thrive and grow I think is top on our list," Fowler said. "We're held hostage by sales tax revenue. It's kind of an ugly baby, but it's our baby and we need to embrace it."
Sandquist also listed the town's water portfolio at the top of her priority list while Knobel talked about the importance of keeping the town safe and reducing crime.
All three of the incumbents expressed support of the construction of the controversial Blue River Trail, and all five hopefuls came out against the idea of a real estate tax of any kind in Silverthorne, saying people didn't want it and that the town didn't need it.