ERROR: Macro yahooRecommends is missing!

Hopefuls show their differences at candidates forum

As moderator Stephanie Huss, left, recites questions from the audience, candidates for Durango City Council wait to answer during the League of Women Voters City Council candidates forum. Candidates, seated from left, are Dean Brookie, Keith Brant, Floyd Patterson, Christina Rinderle and Jordan Golson. Candidate Kristen Smith was unable to attend because of a work issue. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/ Durango Herald

As moderator Stephanie Huss, left, recites questions from the audience, candidates for Durango City Council wait to answer during the League of Women Voters City Council candidates forum. Candidates, seated from left, are Dean Brookie, Keith Brant, Floyd Patterson, Christina Rinderle and Jordan Golson. Candidate Kristen Smith was unable to attend because of a work issue.

In their second forum Thursday, candidates for Durango City Council showed conservative and liberal differences and made some goofy campaign promises, too.

To protect himself against a recall like the one that’s being organized against state Rep. Mike McLachlan for his gun-control votes, candidate Dean Brookie said he would always protect “your right to bear plastic bags.”

At the end of a long-winded discussion about organic treatment for city parks that segued to the city dog park, Brookie also pledged that “If elected to City Council, I promise there will be a Snowdown skit next year on organic dog parks.”

Issues such as organic parks and plastic bags helped show the differences in candidates’ perspectives.

Keith Brant, owner of Durango Premier Vacation Rental, and Jordan Golson, a technology journalist, took a more conservative, limited-government line on most issues at the forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of La Plata County.

Brant and Golson argued that the city needed to focus its attention on its aging infrastructure. While very complimentary of the city’s new utilities director, Steve Salka, Brant struggled to remember his name, calling him the “sewage guy.”

When asked about the need for living-wage jobs, Brant said Durango is a tourism-based economy and its mostly service-sector jobs were a fact of life.

“We can’t change the market.” Brant said. “We’re not China.”

Neither Brant nor Golson would say whether climate change was the result of human causes or just a cyclical change in environment.

“I think the climate is always changing,” Golson said.

Golson also said government should not dictate to consumers how they should carry their groceries to their car.

When Golson asked why the city was so concerned about plastic bags and not the smoke billowing from the trains, Brookie responded that the city has asked the railroad in the past to work on its smokestacks.

Brookie and Christina Rinderle, the only incumbent in the race, seemed to take more liberal positions.

Rinderle said: “I do think climate change is a real thing. I’m not a climate denier in any respect.”

While she would not support an outright ban on plastic bags, she thought a nominal fee like 5 cents on plastic or paper bags at the grocery checkout line was important to create an environmental awareness in the consumer.

Rinderle also differed with Brant on organic treatments for parks. Brant said: “I’m not convinced spending $36,000 on a consultant to put molasses and kelp (on lawns) is that important.”

Rinderle said the issue was “not on my radar” until local activists packed the council chambers to argue passionately for organic treatment of parks. She said the role of a councilor is to represent the interests of his or her constituency.

Floyd Patterson, a former school board member, pledged to make himself accessible to residents, if elected. Kristen Smith, a server at Ska Brewing Co., could not make the forum at City Hall because of work.

Golson, who tweeted before the forum that he was “ready to rock,” differed with Brant on Internet service, saying he supported some infrastructure improvements to increase speed. Golson said Internet speed is three to four times faster in New York, Boston or San Francisco.

At the end of the night, when Rinderle complimented all the candidates for their commitment, Golson quipped, “I will take that as an endorsement.”

The election will be decided April 2.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

Comments » Read and share your thoughts on this story