Controversy over rental licensing has divided Fort Collins voters this year, and candidates for City Council know their stance on the suggested occupancy limits can be the difference between winning and losing the upcoming election. With that in mind, candidates who have alienated community members by opposing or only conditionally supporting rental licensing are courting student voters, who tend to oppose the occupancy limits.
"I know those candidates are very heavily seeking student involvement," said Courtney Stephens, director of community affairs for the Associated Students of CSU.
The three-unrelated law, which prohibits more than three unrelated people from living together, has been criticized by lobbyists including Stephens, who says it discriminates against students, as they are more likely than other community members to share a house with unrelated roommates.
Mayoral candidate Bill Bertschy demonstrated his desire to win student votes by attending ASCSU's Wednesday night senate meeting. He discussed his qualifications and reasons for seeking the position of mayor.
Bertschy opposes the family relationship caveat of the ordinance, but supports overlay zones and house-specific exemptions to the three-unrelated law, a watered-down version of student demands that leaves some lobbyists dubious about the sincerity of his desire to connect with students.
Overlay zones would allow certain areas of the city exempt from three-unrelated. House-by-house exemptions would also allow houses with extra bedrooms and parking spaces to avoid the occupancy standard.
Bertschy briefly fielded questions from senators but had to leave early to participate in a city debate. Students with questions for Bertschy or any of the other candidates for mayor or city council can e-mail them to Stephens at communityaffairs@ASCSU.colostate.edu.
Bertschy said his extensive experience on City Council and involvement with the university make him a prime choice for mayor. He has served as director of the Pingree Park Campus for 31 years, and on council for eight years. He also created the council's Colorado State University Liaison committee.
"When I first got on council, one of the things that quite surprised me was the animosity between city government and (CSU)," he said.
Bertschy is also the chair of the City Council's finance committee, a responsibility he said prepared him for the difficult choices a mayor must make.
"I'm the only candidate running for mayor who had to cut $6.5 million from our budget last year, and that was a very painful thing," he said.
Bertschy's goals if elected include creating a mayor's advisory council with student representatives.
Stephens said Bertschy's desire to connect with students pleased her and suggest candidates are realizing students' votes matter.
"While we may to be as strong a voting block as others, we're still willing to be a thorn in their sides," she said.