Main Street, big-box retail
are among topics
DOWNTOWN Alamosa was on the front burner of Tuesday evening’s city council candidate forum held at Alamosa City Hall, with all the candidates voicing their support for the concepts behind the new Main Street redesign but also acknowledging that some adjustments need to be made.
Mayor Ty Coleman, who is running unopposed, said a “vibrant downtown” has been among the city’s top three goals, and the redesign of Main Street and the city’s Downtown Master Plan help accomplish the goal.
Coleman and City Councilman Mike Carson are on the ballot unopposed. Carson, who will serve his second term as the Ward 4 city council representative, said Alamosa serves as a catalyst for the rest of the San Luis Valley and so being on the city council carries added weight.
As for downtown Alamosa, Carson said he traveled recently, “and I did see a lot of towns that have a similar configuration as we do. With a little tweaking, people will be happy. As we come together, this council will come up with a good solution.”
Incumbent City Councilman Jan Vigil is running against Donnie Bautista for an at-large seat on the city council, and Lori Smith, Darrel Cooper and Kyle Woodward are running to represent Ward 2 of Alamosa.
ALAMOSA AT-LARGE CANDIDATES
Jan Vigil, the at-large incumbent, touted the accomplishments of the current city council in his bid for re-election. “We have a track record of getting things done,” he said, ticking off a list that included the addition of a multi-purpose ice rink and a growing trail system.
On Main Street, he said, “We had a lot of outreach with the community on this. I do like what we have done downtown. But we heard from the community, and they don’t feel safe. I believe we should move the curb back to achieve that safety.”
Bautista owns Sand Dunes Recreation along with his wife, Carly Harmon, and is making his first bid for local elected office. “I know Main Street is a hot topic,” he said. “I feel that the idea is phenomenal.” He added that the public has been “loud and clear” about the need to make adjustments to the current design and that it’s important to address the safety concerns raised by community members.
Vigil drew a distinct comparison between himself and Bautista when the candidates were asked if they had received the COVID-19 vaccine. Bautista said he had not, but that he may in the future as more information is known about the COVID vaccine. Vigil said he was vaccinated and that there shouldn’t be any question about the science behind the vaccine. “I would encourage folks to get vaccinated,” Vigil said. “I think vaccination is one of the best ways to get out of this pandemic.”
Vigil and Bautista were in agreement when asked if the city should push to get a Home Depot or Lowe’s. Neither wanted to see big-box retailers come into Alamosa and the San Luis Valley at the expense of existing local businesses.
The two at-large candidates also addressed a question on climate change. “You’d have to be naive to think there isn’t climate change going on and that humans haven’t contributed to it,” said Bautista.
A small favor:
Alamosa Citizen is committed to informing and engaging the people of the San Luis Valley. Unlike many other sites, the Citizen makes its journalism available to everyone to read, regardless of what they can afford to pay. We do this because we believed informed citizens create better communities. If you like what you’ve seen and heard so far, please become an AlamosaCitizen.com member or contribute in a way you choose. We have no out-of-town shareholders or billionaire owners. Your support makes our reporting possible, and keeps it free for all to access.
Vigil, as part of this response, cited myriad things the city of Alamosa has done to address the changing climate, including use of LED lighting and shifting to xeriscape in the city’s landscaping designs to lower water usage. “The other thing every leader in the Valley must do is not let our water leave the Valley and go to the front range.”
ALAMOSA WARD 2 CANDIDATES
Running in Ward 2 are longtime residents Lori Smith, Darrel Cooper, and Kyle Woodward.
Lori Smith is principal of the K-2 Building at the Alamosa Elementary School and owner of Beyond Beauty Salon and Spa. Throughout the night, Smith addressed the importance of early education in the community and its impacts for future development. She agreed with the rest of the panel that downtown was a great idea, but needs work. She stressed the importance of listening to the community, and how we should prepare for the mountain town boom that is expected in Alamosa’s future.
Darrel Cooper has served in many different areas of the community, such as managing local grocery stores, his position as scoutmaster and district chairman of the Boy Scouts, served on the planning and zoning committee, and is now chair of the Alamosa Housing Authority Board. He said he “always felt the need to be involved.”
Kyle Woodward is the owner of Woody’s Q-Shack on Main Street. He is a Valley local and strong advocate for small businesses. “I grew up on Main Street,” he said in his opening introduction, talking about his family’s ownership of Alamosa Sporting Goods and then Everything Wireless, which led them to become an Alltel Wireless dealer. Woodward serves on the Main Street Advisory Board and said he loved the concept and the idea of downtown, but that it “needs some tweaks.”
When asked about personal reasons for running, Smith went against the grain, using her perspective as an elementary school principal to address the need for universal preschool to “empower at the youngest age.”
Woodward gave a list to highlight his desire to get involved in politics at the local level, “communication, economic vitality, community identity, and effective management of our resources.” Woodward also stressed that he, like Bautista, is a business owner and not a politician.
“Because I care about this city,” said Cooper. He remembered former City Councilman Quentin Garcia’s passion for the community and how that impacted his decision to run for city council. He also said that he grew up on the south side of Alamosa and that during his time living here he has gained an understanding of the “different players” of the city.
In regard to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, both Smith and Cooper are vaccinated and support the vaccine. Cooper, however, stated that he “hates the term herd immunity.”
Woodward said he is not vaccinated, adding that he isn’t pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine, but “pro-freedom.”
Bringing the topics to a lighter area, all three Ward 2 candidates agreed that big-box stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s have no place in the Valley. Supporting local business was the answer from everyone.
When addressing climate change, the Ward 2 candidates were in agreement that while the world is facing climate change, as a city council there isn’t much they can do on a global scale. They stressed the importance of individual impact, such as recycling, and finding a fundamental way to change how we go forward in tackling the climate crisis.
The candidates were asked to address one issue. Everyone agreed that the issues that come across the city council are a team effort, but they did give their individual answers.
Woodward addressed homelesness, highlighting that more law enforcement is a way to curb problems. Smith followed the same path, addressing drugs, and their influence on homelessness. “Mental health is a real thing,” she said, and how meeting people’s mental health needs can “get them out of that hole.”
Cooper took a turn and said that when he was collecting signatures for petitions he asked the community what issues they would like addressed. He said a neighbor of his gave him three: “Deer. Deer. Deer.” He stated that at the end of the day, it is the council’s decision how to address the issue, in accordance with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. At the end of his time, he said that infrastructure was the real issue he would like to tackle.
Reporting by cvlopez and Owen Woods | Alamosa Citizen