Durango voters will have four candidates to choose from in the April election for City Council, which has two open seats.
Kim Baxter, Jaime McMillan, Barbara Noseworthy and Marcos Wisner have all qualified as candidates for City Council, which is wrestling with fiscal sustainability and homelessness issues. Incumbents Sweetie Marbury and Dick White are term-limited, leaving two open seats on the five-person board.
The deadline to file petitions for City Council was Tuesday.
Also on the ballot in April is a question to raise sales tax by 0.5 percent to pay for the construction, operation and maintenance of streets, alleys, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and related street improvements. That tax, if approved, would last for 10 years, raise no more than $4.69 million in the first fiscal year and pay for improvements that have been put off for decades.
Some candidates said the city should take more responsibility when it comes to fostering affordable housing and caring for the homeless, while others said the city needs to do more to recruit businesses and cut regulations. All candidates said the city needs to do a better job of managing its budget, but they offer different solutions.
Here’s what the candidates had to say:
</CHARACTER>Barbara Noseworthy, a 60-year-old strategic planning consultant, said she’s excited that so many people are running for City Council. She said she’s not running against anyone; rather, she’s running for City Council, with an eye on the prize.
If elected, Noseworthy said her first priority would be achieving fiscal sustainability. The city needs to take care of its infrastructure before it moves on to bigger projects. One of those bigger projects for Noseworthy is affordable housing – the city could benefit both economically and socially from cheaper living.
“We need to make sure we can take care of our infrastructure and needs,” Noseworthy said.
</CHARACTER>Jamie McMillan, a 51-year-old financial adviser, said the residents of Durango deserve a robust choice when it comes to City Council candidates. And it takes courage to run for office, so he’s happy to see so many people step up.
Jobs are what are needed to drive Durango into the future, McMillan said. The city’s revenue is too reliant on restaurants and retail, and encouraging a variety of businesses through incentives will bring more residents and, therefore, more revenue, he said.
“If I can bring one new employer per year with 30 to 40 people, meaning we help facilitate and identify that, that’s fantastic,” McMillan said. “That’s 30 more paychecks.”
</CHARACTER>Kim Baxter, a 62-year-old retired consultant and small-business owner, also thinks it’s a good thing that there are twice as many candidates as there are open seats. More people running makes it better for residents, she said.
If she had to focus on one thing in her tenure, if elected, Baxter said she would focus on the problem of the rising cost of living in Durango. The city does a good job of recognizing its financial difficulties but doesn’t do enough to address the money problems residents face.
“In trying to solve the city’s wicked problems by raising the sales-tax rate instead of managing expenses, it’s made it harder for residents,” Baxter said.
</CHARACTER>Marcos Wisner, a 31-year-old small-business owner, said he feels confident he has the support he needs and the recognition, as a local, to stand out among the field of candidates. He hopes his age will help him stand out as a progressive candidate.
The city’s land-use development code is outdated and should be replaced, Wisner said. The city needs to cut red tape that discourages new businesses, especially those downtown that generate so much revenue for the city. He wants to make changes to vacation rental regulations and second-dwelling unit (ADU) restrictions, he said.
“Durango has changed so much, to stand behind something like that, we’re holding ourselves back,” Wisner said of the land-use development codes.
Corey Sue Hutchinson, who announced her candidacy mid-January, decided to withdraw her candidacy to learn more about issues and city government to be better prepared for the next election.
City Council candidates aren’t required to report donations and expenditures until March 12.
Sales tax measureIn addition to electing two new city councilors, Durango voters will decide whether the city raises sales tax by 0.5 percent to pay for the construction, operation and maintenance of streets, alleys, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and related street improvements. Ballot measure 1A will raise up to $4.69 million in the first fiscal year.
Street infrastructure is failing and there’s not enough money to fix it, city officials say.
In November 2018, the city asked voters to raise sales and property taxes to pay for streets, sidewalks, law enforcement and other city buildings. Ballot measure 2A failed by more than 20 percent.
A small-issue committee called Citizens for Durango’s Future rallied against the ballot measure. Last month, City Council passed rules requiring strict campaign finance rules for those committees.
As of Friday afternoon, no small-issue committees had formally registered for the April election.