Mayoral candidate Doug Hutchinson visited the Associated Students of CSU Wednesday night and spoke briefly to the student senate about his qualifications for mayor, his reasons for seeking the position, and his plans for Fort Collins if elected.
Hutchinson became interested in politics about three-and- a- half years ago after being invited to write a political column for The Coloradoan.
"That changed me from being an observant citizen to being a very concerned citizen," he said.
Hutchinson, a CSU alumnus, attended the meeting at the invitation of Director of Community Affairs Courtney Stephens. Until he arrived at the meeting, Hutchinson said, he did not know he would have the chance to address the senate. That didn't stop him from taking the floor to talk about his ideas.
Hutchinson's three focus points are the environment, community/university interactions, and the city's economy. He hopes to improve Fort Collins' economic situation by removing disincentives for businesses hoping to relocate in the city, thereby adding jobs to the area so that "graduation day won't have to be moving day" for CSU students.
Hutchinson said the current council has discouraged businesses from moving to Fort Collins by making prospective businesses submit to a review of their potential impact on Fort Collins, a process that can take up to two years. Hutchinson said he is concerned about maintaining the city's natural beauty, but that he feels a balance can be struck between business and environment.
"We're smart enough…that we can have a healthy economy and a healthy environment," he said.
After Hutchinson's presentation, ASCSU members asked questions. Senator J.T. Davis of the College of Liberal Arts asked what senators called the million dollar question: where does Hutchinson stand on the city's three-unrelated ordinance, and how does he feel about rental licensing?
He opposes three-unrelated's current stipulations, which allow only three unrelated people to live in the same house, and feels that rental licensing should be limited to areas with nuisance problems.
"I do not support enforcing the three-unrelated law the way it is (now) at all," he said. "It makes no sense."
Stephens noted ASCSU's stance that rental licensing amounts to "class-based discrimination," since renters may face increased housing costs if landlords are forced to invest more money in their properties. Hutchinson agreed with her, citing the results of an economic impact study funded by the city to predict the financial effects that rental licensing might have on the city.
Rental licensing, which has been suggested by various homeowners as a way to hold tenants and landlords accountable for nuisance problems and overcrowding, has faced opposition from some landlords and student renters, who worry licensing fees would be passed on to renters in the form of rent increases.
Hutchinson said the study's results show a potential 20 percent increase in housing costs for renters in the lowest-priced rentals in Fort Collins.