The candidates for seats on the Loveland, CO. City Council and the candidates for mayor of Loveland recently answered questions regarding business before an audience at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce. The focus of the session included economic development, transportation, and broadband.
Larry Heckel, a candidate for mayor, expressed the belief that vetting incentives should be done on a case-by-case consideration instead of a general approach because he believed doing so would allow for the opportunity to determine whether or not a business would succeed or fail based on the credentials of those advancing the proposal.
In comparison mayoral candidate Jacki Marsh said that she does not support incentives for business and that economic development should be based on whether or not those living in Loveland would benefit. She also expressed the opinion that the employees of a business should be able to live in the city where they work.
The third candidate seeking to become the next mayor of Loveland, John Fogle, advanced the opinion that Loveland competes with Fort Collins for economic development, and that fact must be at the forefront regarding economic development in Loveland.
A candidate for City Council in Ward I, Jeremy Jersvig, put forth the opinion that there should be a balance between retail and primary employers in Loveland because to do otherwise could result in an imbalance regarding affordable housing.
Leonard Larkin, who is also seeking the council seat in Ward I, expressed the opinion that education should be a primary emphasis for Loveland, and suggested a moratorium on growth in Loveland until city leaders and voters have a say in the matter.
Related to the opinions expressed Gary Lindquist, who is seeking the Ward II council seat, made it known that he opposes what he considers to be corporate welfare now practices by the city.
His opponent, Gail Snyder, said that all businesses in Loveland should be supported.
Another candidate for Ward II, Kathi Wright, said that business is important, but equally important is the type of business that would come to Loveland, and that incentives may play a role in the pursuit.
Steve Olson, who is seeking re-election in Ward II, advanced the opinion that he sees benefit to city-funded business incentives.
John Ryan Keil, who is also seeking the Ward III seat, made it known that he opposes incentives because he supports the free market. City Council member Steve Clark, who is running unopposed in Ward IV, said that he dislikes incentives but accepts that they are required because economic development is a duty of government.
On the subject of transportation in Loveland Mr. Larkin made his opinion known: He cited a need for a better source of funding for transportation projects than loans.
Mr. Lindquist expressed the opinion that the increased traffic congestion on U.S. Highway 34 was frustrating and unacceptable.
Gail Snyder favors a balance of safety and the ability to travel a sufficient distance within a given timeframe and believes that it can be accomplished through a partnership between Loveland and other cities, county, state, and federal entities where required funding is concerned.
Kathi Wright advanced the opinion that she supports alternative transportation methods and advocates the proposed hyperloop project for the Front Range corridor.
Council member Steve Olson said that priorities regarding transportation should include safety and efficiency, and advocated priorities within the city budget for transportation and road maintenance.
John Ryan Keil advocates road projects being a priority to resolve traffic problems and issues in congested areas in Loveland.
The candidates for elected office were asked for their opinions on the City of Loveland providing a broadband utility for residents of Loveland.
Mr. Lindquist made his concerns known regarding the cost for the system – which could exceed $100 million.
Gail Snyder echoed the opinion and expressed concern over the burden on taxpayers. But also said she saw it as being a reason for business to locate to Loveland.
Mr. Jersvig expressed the opinion that the proposal could carry high risk.
Kathi Wright suggested that the investment would be received favorably by many Loveland residents who must work during the night because of inadequate bandwidth during peak hours.
Steve Olson expressed concerns about the initial cost and the potential for failure, with the overall cost left to the taxpayers to resolve.
John Ryan Keil said the city should research how other cities handle other services, including trash collection, to better understand the investment and maintenance of broadband.
Mr. Clark and Heckel advanced the position that the issue should receive more consideration before the investment is made – if at all.
Mayoral candidate Jacki Marsh expressed the opinion that broadband is needed to attract and retain businesses that will provide high-paying jobs for current and future residents, and made it known that a local broadband service would be more appropriate that a long-distance service.
John Fogle made it known that broadband would be, in his opinion, an investment in the future. Mr. Larkin shared the opinion.
No candidate for elected office, however, offered specifics for how long it would take to recover the substantial investment or what would happen if it failed.
The subject of finances and economics provided a transition to city budget priorities.
City Budget Priorities
Each candidate for elected office was asked: Excluding public safety, public works, and power, what are your top three priorities?
Mr. Olson responded that he wants correct and transparent financial records and a reduction in debt the city carries.
Mr. Keil and Mr. Heckel also said that elimination or avoidance of debt was important.
Mr. Clark said that his priority is transportation.
Mayoral candidate Jacki Marsh said her priorities included explicit information regarding incentives for business, and asserted that development must pay its own way.
Her opponent, John Fogle offered three priorities: Transportation, infrastructure, and the means to attain housing.
Mr. Jersvig said a priority is a balanced budget, with input from voters on to achieve the related goal with a framework of needs versus wants.
Mr. Larkin said that his priority is education.
Mr. Lindquist said that a priority for him is a reduction is operating costs that translate into higher fees and taxes for taxpayers in Loveland.
Gail Snyder expressed a similar priority: Fiscal responsibility.
Kathi Wright offered her three priorities: Housing, economic development of the downtown area in Loveland, and better communication between city government and the public.
The question and answer session ended with a question regarding leadership: What qualities do you have that would serve Loveland as a leader?
John Fogle, who is running for mayor, offered his city experience, six years on council, and two years as mayor pro tem.
Mr. Heckel said he works with the community.
Jacki Marsh said her experience as a business owner would be applicable.