An incumbent, a former councilor trying to make a comeback and two newcomers told a business-oriented audience Tuesday morning why voters should pick them April 7 to fill three seats on the Durango City Council.
The forum, sponsored by Bank of Colorado, was held at the DoubleTree Hotel.
Doug Lyon, 45, who is finishing his first council term, cited his experience and said he works well with business interests and has a good relationship with La Plata County commissioners.
"I love Durango and want to see it go forward," he said.
Aaron Tucson, 28, a Durango native and council member from 2001-05, said he has youth and diversity to go along with experience.
"I was born in a great town, and don't want to die in a mediocre one," he said.
Christina Rinderle Thompson, 33, said she saw her hometown in the Midwest wither when small businesses closed and people moved away.
"I want to work with others for a sustainable Durango," she said.
Paul Broderick, 37, said he has worked extensively with nonprofit organizations and the government sector.
"I'm concerned about the future and the assets that make up our quality of life. I can bring a valuable perspective to the City Council," he said.
The candidates were queried on issues by Ted Holteen, a reporter at The Durango Herald, Christine Rasmussen of the Four Corners Business Journal and Wes Stein of Four Corners Broadcasting.
A snapshot of the issues the candidates tackled:
•Confronting a deficit in the city's general fund: In general they favored line-by-line scrutiny of the budget, prioritization of expenditures and support for public safety and a healthy downtown. Tucson recommended a hard look at recreational expenses.
•Changes they would like to see: Thompson, once a commuter, wants to make more in-town housing available through rental units or backyard apartments. Broderick would like city employees to emphasize service to the public. Although the city isn't responsible, health care is important, Tucson said. There will be fiscal challenges but no radical changes, Lyon said.
•Smart growth: Annexation versus infill - Growth is healthy but it should be contiguous to the city and pay its own way, Broderick said. Tucson sees annexation as inevitable. Infill opportunities are almost all gone; he recommended redevelopment.
Lyon said growth must be balanced with appropriate services and coordination of efforts with La Plata County is important. Thompson said a 1 to 2 percent growth rate is reasonable.
•A business/industrial park: The candidates agreed that a new one is needed because the Tech Center and Bodo Industrial Park are almost at capacity. If there is no designated park, new industry tends to locate along country roads, Lyon said.
•A downtown parking garage: Agreement again on the need. Garages should be for store and office employees, which would leave metered spaces for shoppers and free adjoining residential neighborhoods for their residents.
•A series of yes-or-no questions: On a potential ordinance allowing the keeping of chickens in backyards, Thompson and Tucson said yes; Lyon, no; and Broderick, maybe. On the annexation of Twin Buttes, Lyon, Thompson and Tucson said yes and Broderick, maybe. On the repeal of the sales tax, Lyon, Tucson and Thompson said no and Broderick, yes if voters approve.
•City administration of recreation at Lake Nighthorse, which cash-strapped state and federal agencies say they can't manage. Broderick said no, but suggested a partnership with the county. The city should be supportive but not take prime responsibility, Thompson said. Tucson and Lyon said it's too expensive a proposition.
Ballots will be mailed to registered and active voters Saturday, and the city clerk's office will be open for walk-in voting Monday.