Breck candidates weigh in on issues at town hall forum
BRECKENRIDGE – Candidates for Breckenridge Town Council offered their positions on local issues Thursday night before dozens of people at town hall. Several of the seven candidates – competing for three seats in the April 6 election – had distinct opinions on how the town might be improved. “I’m lately seeing a lot of great families move away from Breckenridge,” said Ben Brewer, 42, the only candidate raised in the town. He said that while the town has done “a lot of great things to keep them here” with great amenities, it is missing a “sustainable economic piece of year-round jobs.” Brewer said increasing such jobs will be his “main focus.”Larry Crispell, 62, a former council member of 10 years, said improving heritage tourism will help to attract people who spend more money. “Heritage defines this town,” he said. “This is what (distinguishes) Breckenridge from the cookie-cutter ski villages around us.”Crispell emphasized his previous council work that ended with expansion of attainable housing units from 50 to 531 as well as more open space and a better transit system. Incumbent candidate Dave Rossi, 43, said the town will benefit from community involvement as it moves forward with such improvements as the Gondola Lot development while trying to maintain its character.”What we have to be very, very careful of is killing our golden goose,” he said. “There is a point where there’s a little bit too much, but there’s a way to manage it.”Rossi said that his decision to vote against the defensible space mandate last year had “nothing to do with science” and was made because he felt there wasn’t sufficient accountability for the unprecedented (in Colorado) requirement of firebreaks around homes. Mike Dudick, 45, co-owner of the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 timeshare business, said he’s a “pro-business” candidate who wants to set an example for improving the town experience. He said half of his employees contribute donations to The Summit Foundation. “We can give more back to this community,” he said.Dudick’s partner Rob Millisor has been serving on the council but is stepping down. Candidates also shared thoughts on the town government’s role regarding economic development. Mark Burke, 49, is owner of Burke & Riley’s Pub, The Liquid Lounge and The Clubhouse Restaurant at Breckenridge Golf Club. He said the town needs to provide more incentives for businesses to operate. He also said it’s important for residents to a positive community experience because it will lead to guests having a more positive visitor experience.As the previous president of Johnson and Wales University in Denver, Burke said he’s experienced with managing large and sometimes unpredictable budgets. He said the town needs to avoid spending too much money when the revenues are flowing high. “I think you always have to manage like times are tough,” he said.Incumbent candidate Jen McAtamney, 42, was asked whether the town should subsidize child care. She said the service helps keep families in town.”When I started on council, there were over 100 kids on the waiting list for child care,” she said, adding that recent programs have made a difference.As the only woman serving on council and the only female candidate, McAtamney said it’s important to have a woman’s voice represented on the council. She also said she aims to continue support the town’s Vision Plan and sustainability in the coming years. Rodney Allen, 43, owns Exclusive Mountain Retreats Real Estate with his wife. He also chairs the town’s planning commission. Allen said he wants to get second homeowners more involved with the community. He suggested perhaps using online social networking for people who aren’t able to attend meetings. “A few recent top-down mandates didn’t get the public involved at the beginning,” he said. “Let’s get the public back involved in the public process.”Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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