Mar 042009
 
Authors: Matt Minich

Doug Hutchinson, incumbent mayor for Fort Collins since 2005, is running for what may be his third and final term this year and said though he believes progress has been made in the city’s economic health, it is the major issue plaguing the community today.

Economic health affects older Fort Collins residents and students alike, Hutchinson said, citing projects like the Mason Corridor, a proposed rapid-transit bus route that would take commuters to locations along College Ave. and Harmony Road, and the Fort Zed-led Clean Energy Cluster as examples of the direction Fort Collins needs to go in order to preserve economic health in an environmentally friendly way.

The Clean Energy Cluster, launched in 2006, is a cooperative effort between CSU researchers, local employers and the Platte River Power Authority —- Fort Collins’s municipally owned power supplier — to develop and employ clean energy technologies in Fort Collins.

Hutchinson said that he strongly opposed the Glade Reservoir project, saying he took a two day trip to Washington D.C. to discuss the negative effects of the project on Fort Collins with then-state Senators Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and Ken Salazar, D-Colo.

The proposed reservoir would provide water storage for northern Larimer County and 13 communities in the Fort Collins area. The project has come under fire by

local activists, who say that the reservoir would not benefit Fort Collins.

Hutchinson said that outreach to students on issues like the three-unrelated, or U+2, housing ordinance would be important to him if he were re-elected.

“We have to set the stage to have a good dialogue,” said Hutchinson, who said he would look into changing zoning restrictions to open up more residential areas to students.

Ben Manvel, who is currently running for re-election for city council District 1, said the city budget and economic health were priorities for the mayor in his last term.

“I don’t think we’re going to see any surprises from Doug Hutchinson if he’s re-elected,” said Manvel, who said he felt the economic health of the city would continue to be Hutchinson’s priority.

Eric Sutherland, long-outspoken critic of the Fort Collins’ green initiatives and former candidate for mayor this year, said the Platte River Power Authority Board of Directors, which is a municipally-owned company providing power to the cities of Fort Collins, Estes Park, Longmont and Loveland, isn’t making enough progress toward energy efficiency in its contracts.

Despite promises from Fort Collins city council for heightened energy responsibility, the contracts were not amended to include any new policies regarding renewable energy, Sutherland said.

Each city’s mayor sits on the board.

Hutchinson said he feels the PRPA is making significant progress in energy efficiency.

“The PRPA is diligently pursuing these issues,” Hutchinson said, citing its pioneering use of mercury scrubbers to reduce emissions in coal power plants and its multi-million dollar investments in wind power.

While Hutchinson served as mayor, city council created the city’s first economic advisory committee, a group of expert citizens who advise the council on issues regarding local economic health, and hired the city’s first chief financial officer, Mike Freeman.

Wade Troxell, incumbent chair in Fort Collins’ District 4, endorsed Hutchinson Wednesday, saying the city deserves “bold leadership” that can “build a vibrant, stable and sustainable economic future for our families.”

Hutchinson said he is most proud of his budget reform work, which he said saved the city $15 million from its $100 million budget and eliminated 106 city staff jobs.

City council elections beat writer Matt Minich can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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