Steamboat’s Brenner considers state Senate run
eagle county correspondent
EAGLE COUNTY ” Ken Brenner got his start in politics after his sister Patty
was run over by a truck near Steamboat Springs 15 years ago.
Some teenagers were driving on a county road when their truck hit a large
rock and lost control, killing his sister, Brenner said.
Brenner worked to get signs saying “Share the Road” posted around Steamboat
Springs and, with a small group of people, Brenner helped make the poorly
maintained road safer, he said. Working with several branches of government
to improve the road inspired Brenner to go into politics, he said.
“You can either complain about it or get involved and make a difference,” he
said. “That’s what I decided to do.”
Now Brenner, Steamboat Springs Democrat, has filed the necessary paperwork
with the Colorado Secretary of State to run for Senate District 8, whose
territory includes Eagle County. Al White, Hayden Republican, is also
running to fill the seat now occupied by another Steamboat resident, Jack
Taylor. Taylor is term-limited and not running for reelection.
In local government, Brenner has served on Steamboat Springs’ city council
and Parks and Recreation Commission and is now the chairman of the Routt
County Democratic Party.
Brenner has not committed to running yet. He still has to make sure he has
support from the Democratic Party and constituents in District 8. He also
has yet to put together a team to help him campaign, he said.
Brenner was born in Steamboat Springs and grew up on a ranch near town. His
family has lived in the Yampa Valley for three generations, he said.
The potential candidate was a ski racer and began coaching the sport in
1980. Now he’s an International Ski Federation delegate, making sure
everything runs smoothly at ski races. Brenner also likes to hike
14,000-foot peaks, of which he has climbed 35, he said.
He owns Performance Sports Medicine, an alternative physical therapy clinic
in Steamboat Springs. He has been married to his wife, Pam, for more than 30
years and has three sons: Daniel, Kenyon and Jacob.
Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney met Brenner at a dinner for Gov. Bill Ritter in
Wolcott in September. Stavney said he was impressed by Brenner’s level of
interest in local issues.
“He’s a very good listener and very eager to find out more about this part
of District 8, which is a good sign,” Stavney said.
Having been a city councilman in a resort economy, Brenner has dealt with
some of the same problems in Steamboat Springs that face Eagle County, such
as housing and land use, Stavney said.
Brenner is passionate about northwest Colorado’s water rights.
He has aggressively defended water rights in the Yampa Valley, but the
entire region’s water supply is being threatened by drought, climate change
and proposals to divert water to the Front Range, he said.
Brenner wants to protect Eagle County’s water rights to accommodate growth,
he said. He also wants to protect air and water quality here for the future,
The executive committee of Eagle County Democrats is “really pleased” that
Brenner is considering the Senate seat, Co-chair New New Wallace said.
Wallace and Brenner recently went on a three-hour hike together and talked
politics, she said. Despite being from Steamboat Springs, Brenner is
knowledgeable about Eagle County’s problems, she said.
“Ken’s a mountain man, and District 8 is mountains and ski country,” she
said. “He knows the issues.”
Eagle County’s population is expected to grow to more than 80,000 in the
next 20 years, according to a 2006 Eagle County study. Brenner said he wants
to make sure northwest Colorado can meet a growing workforce’s needs, such
as health care, public education and affordable housing, he said.
“It’s going to take a good, coordinated effort between the state, the
federal governments and the local governments to be able to solve those
kinds of problems,” he said.
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