City Council

Field of six candidates presents city of Durango voters with good choices

Six candidates are contending for three seats on Durango City Council in a mail-in election to be concluded April 2. City voters are lucky to have that many choices and such a range of candidates. But to govern is to choose, and voters must pick three. The Durango Herald recommends Keith Brant, Dean Brookie and Christina Rinderle.

Two of the critical elements of this election are the emerging understanding of the importance of neighborhoods in city planning and the importance of continuity and balance on the council. The first is exemplified by the discussion of auxiliary dwelling units, while the second requires a certain consideration for how new council members might interact with each other, current councilors and city officials. Together with personal qualities, those form a basis for this year’s vote.

The only incumbent in the race, Rinderle brings experience and familiarity with city government. She would take over from term-limited Doug Lyon as the longest serving member of the council – a critical role in a city in which staff members are often around for decades. With her innate enthusiasm and energy, that also puts her in a position to see through to completion efforts initiated by the current council.

Authorizing auxiliary dwelling units is one example. A long-time supporter of allowing ADUs, Rinderle is also open to the idea that different neighborhoods have divergent concerns. A growing appreciation of that, coupled with her relish of downtown living could be an effective combination.

Brookie is new to elective office, but would bring to the council extensive experience with public policy, particularly planning, and a deep knowledge of Durango. An architect, planner and resident of the city for more than 30 years, his election would greatly increase the council’s expertise and institutional memory.

Brookie points to Durango Community Recreation Center as an example of the importance of civic involvement. Few remember, as he points out, how close Durango came to having a Walmart at that location instead of the recreation center and how that enormously popular facility was approved by city voters with a 51-vote margin.

Promising to be a “moderate voice” on the council, Brookie sees the needs ADUs can meet but also recognizes concerns about issues such a crowding. And he is the only candidate to bring up the need to look at North Main Avenue and the importance of its future to city residents.

Brant brings a different kind of experience and perspective to issues before the City Council. His résumé includes working around the world as a finance manager for a firm that supports the offshore oil industry, a stint as comptroller for La Plata Electric Association and his current occupation running vacation rental properties around Durango Mountain Resort.

Brant would take a straightforward approach to city issues, focusing on municipal essentials such as water, sewer, roads and infrastructure needs. He should immediately grasp not only the broad strokes of budgets but their deeper implications.

He could also bring to the council a kind of voice it is losing with the departure of Paul Broderick. The city needs someone willing to question assumptions and long-standing practices too often continued simply because they have always been done that way.

For example, Brant expresses frustration about the city’s propensity for continually hiring consultants and commissioning further studies. Given how many residents share that feeling, that alone should get him more than a few votes.

Vote for Keith Brant, Dean Brookie and Christina Rinderle.