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Five hats in ring for Town Council

As of the Friday, March 2, deadline for submitting candidacy packets, five town residents have announced their intention to run for three at-large seats on the Pagosa Springs Town Council.

Council members Shari Pierce and Stan Holt decided not to run for reelection for their seats. Both were elected to those seats four years ago. Jerry Jackson also won a seat in that election, but resigned after moving out of town.

Council member Bob Hart took Jackson’s place after being appointed to the board last May (Hart was the only applicant for the position). Hart submitted his petition for candidacy last week, but announced his intent to attempt to retain his seat to The SUN early last month.

Hart also currently serves as president of the Town Tourism Committee (TTC).

As of press time, Hart was out of town and unavailable for comment. His comments will be included in a longer article profiling each of the candidates that will be published in The SUN later this month.

Also with experience serving on town council, Parelli CEO Mark Weiler will be on April’s ballot as a candidate for town council. Weiler represented District 1 in Pagosa Springs after being appointed in March 2008, filling the seat after the resignation of John Middendorf from the board. Weiler later resigned from his seat March 2, 2010, due to moving out of District 1 just prior to stepping down.

Weiler currently serves on the board of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation and has served on the Airport Advisory Commission and with the TTC.

When asked why he was seeking a council seat, Weiler said, “I actually had decided not to do it, but just recently changed my mind. Historically, council meetings have not been well attended but, within the last four to five months, the energy that has been shown by the citizens has been wonderful. I’m encouraged by the people, the Pagosa First people ... that has never happened, as long as I can remember.”

With no experience as a town council member, but having served on the town’s planning commission board for eight years (with four years as chairman), Tracy Bunning will also be on the ballot this April as a candidate for Town Council.

Bunning is also the owner of a local title company and served as Pagosa Springs Chief of Police for four years.

“This is a critical time in Pagosa Springs as far as where we are and where we’re going,” Bunning said regarding his desire to secure a council seat. “I think it’s important that we have someone on council who’s been here for awhile and understands the issues facing the town.”

Having served on the Seeds of Learning board for over two years, candidate Clint Alley says he brings the experience (and frustrations) of owning a local real estate development and construction company to the table in his run for a council seat.

“I’ve been talking to people downtown who want to see a new direction for the town,” Alley says. “I want to integrate the new generation’s ideas of preserving our rural, small town values while creating an atmosphere for positive, intelligent and sustainable growth.”

“We need to make downtown more pedestrian and family friendly,” Alley added. “Address all these vacant buildings and create a plan that we can follow through on.”

A relative newcomer to the area (moved to town in 2006), candidate David Schanzenbaker is a self-employed subcontractor in the construction industry with no government experience. However, Schanzenbaker has recently been a fixture at board meetings held by the town, speaking out frequently at those meetings.

“I think there’s some generations of people in town who don’t feel represented by Town Council,” Schanzenbaker said when asked about his decision to run. “I’d like to bring a new perspective to Town Council. I’d like to see more transparency in local government and see citizens involved more in the decision making process.”

Aside from voting for candidates to fill the three open at-large seats, voters could be asked to vote on numerous amendments to the town’s Home Rule Charter.

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