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Trustee election draws at least three new faces

Locations: News Published

Zentmyer and Hoffmann term limited

By John Colson

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

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Carbondale’s board of trustees will see a few changes come April 5, with the election of at least two and possibly three new board members.

There are three seats up for grabs in the election, according to town officials.

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Trustees Pam Zentmyer and John Hoffmann both are leaving the board due to term limits, meaning they cannot run for re-election.

Trustee Allyn Harvey, however, can run for re-election and apparently will, as he has taken out a nominating petition and is circulating it around town to gather signatures from qualified voters in support of his candidacy.

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Nominating petitions have been available at Town Hall since Jan. 5, and are due back in Town Clerk Cathy Derby’s office by 5 p.m. on Jan. 25 in order for candidates to have their names placed on the ballot.

According to town officials, as of Tuesday, Jan. 12, three other local residents had taken out petition forms in hopes of getting onto the town board. The three new names hoping to get on the ballot were Ben Bohmfalk, Michael Durant and Dan Richardson, each of whom has government service in his background either in Carbondale or in Glenwood Springs.

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Bohmfalk, who has been a teacher of government classes at Basalt and Roaring Fork high schools, currently is listed as a “technology integration facilitator” with the Roaring Fork School District (according to the district website). He also served six years on the Carbondale Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) from 2006 to 2012, four of them as chair of the commission.

Bohmfalk is 39, and has lived in Carbondale for 13 years, except for two years when he and his wife, who is Australian, moved to Australia to be near her family. They have been back in Carbondale for about a year and a half, he said on Tuesday.

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Asked why he decided to run for the board of trustees, Bohmfalk said, “I really enjoy the public process,” citing his work as a teacher and as a member of the P&Z.

Plus, he said, “I feel like we need kind of reasonable, moderate decision makers, and that’s what I am.”

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He also said he hopes to make the public review process “less divisive, especially around development.” He maintained that just about any large-scale development in town ends up pitting one faction of the community against another, “and it just doesn’t have to be that way.” He believes town government should be able to review projects without becoming mired in heated controversy.

Durant, who is 58, married with no children, has lived in Carbondale since 2002 and runs his own property appraisal business in town. He also has served on the P&Z for about six or seven years.

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Asked why he decided to run for the board of trustees, Durant said, “I just saw the current trustees focusing in on issues that I thought weren’t in the town’s purview or in the town’s best interests,” and not focusing on issues that he felt were in the town’s best interest.

Asked for specific examples, he said he believes the board of trustees needs to adopt “a common-sense approach to fiscal responsibility.”

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As a member of the Mt. Sopris Rotary club, he recalled that the club recently raised money to buy an automated external defibrillator for one of the Carbondale’s police cars, and noted that only about half of the cop cars in town carry the emergency medical devices. But, he continued, the town every year gives money away to non-profit organizations of different kinds.

“I think that is cockeyed,” Durant declared. “The town needs to focus more in its governmental responsibilities,” such as emergency equipment for its police, keeping the streets in good shape and taking care of the public infrastructure. Plus, he said, since the town gets most of its income from sales taxes, “We need to create a business environment in town that’s more friendly so people will want to shop in Carbondale.”

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Richardson, 43, is married with two sons, and has lived in Carbondale since 2007.

He said he was born in Glenwood Springs, once was the team mascot for Glenwood Springs High School, served on the Glenwood Springs City Council in the early 2000s, and now works as a consultant and a manager for the SGM engineering firm in Glenwood Springs.

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“I love local government,” Richardson said about his reason for running for election. “I love governance in general, and what better town than Carbondale in which to do that?”

His sons, aged 10 and 12 years, are “too old for me to coach any more,” so he has plenty of time to devote to the intensive work of being a trustee, he said.

“I don’t have an agenda,” he declared. “I don’t think the town is going in a terrible direction,” he simply wants to help the community improve and thrive.

Harvey, who was first elected in 2012, gained public notice by being a significant voice in the successful electoral battle to rescind town approvals for the Village at Crystal River development project on land at the western edge of town.

Asked why he is running for re-election, Harvey said the board of trustees has generally been headed in what he feels is the right direction and he would like to be part of helping that continue.

“I think Carbondale is in a good place,” he added, though he feels the town faces significant challenges in the immediate future with regard to such issues as affordable housing and growth.

“We want to keep Carbondale, Carbondale,” he concluded.

Because none of the four have turned in their nominating petitions as of Tuesday, they were not formally declared candidates yet, and there may be other candidates getting into the race before the Jan. 25 ballot deadline.

Published in The Sopris Sun on January 14, 2016.