Steamboat’s Brenner considers state Senate run |

Steamboat’s Brenner considers state Senate run

Steve Lynn
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,

he said.

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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