Our view: Fresh perspective
February 28, 2017
Steamboat Springs City Council members appointed a millennial to fill an unexpired term on the council.
That appointment was wise because it made sure an underrepresented segment of the community has a voice.
The appointment of Lisel Petis to the Steamboat Springs City Council was a refreshing choice. It signals to us that the City Council wants to give young professionals and millennials a voice and wants to ensure the make-up of the council is diverse and representative of various segments of the community.
Those who applied for the council seat vacated by Tony Connell came from a wide range of backgrounds. The group included massage therapists, teachers, a public relations professional, a small business owner, a civil engineer and a former sheriff's deputy. The council interviewed the candidates in open session, and in the first round of voting, appointed Petis to the post.
As a new member of the City Council, Petis becomes the first millennial to serve in that capacity. We believe that's significant, especially at this point in time, when millennials make up the single largest group within the U.S. work force and are quickly becoming the nation's largest consumer group. It's also a pivotal time for the millennial voice to be heard in Steamboat, especially as the city grapples with a serious shortage of affordable housing as well as access to affordable childcare.
We believe Petis can provide the council with insight into the issues facing young people trying to live, work and raise a family here. She and her husband, both attorneys, are living through some of the challenges faced by young professionals, who have a very distinct view of community, who want to be involved and make a difference and who are trying to navigate life in a mountain town with its unique set of challenges.
In her interview, Petis said she had a deep understanding of Steamboat's unique history, having grown up here, but also has a vision for what the community should look like in 25 years. She also specifically promised to bring new insight to council discussions. “I know the issues they (young professionals) are facing that City Council might not know right now,” Petis said.
It's also interesting to note that Petis' appointment gives the council a female majority for only the second time in the group's history. The last time the council had a majority of women serving was in 1987, when Paul Cooper Black, Mary Brown, Julie Schwall and Rita Tolson (Valentine) were council members.
We commend Petis for her willingness to return to her hometown and get involved in city government, and we applaud the City Council for seizing the opportunity to embrace a new perspective and give an under-represented voice the chance to be heard.
It was also heartening to see eight other residents in addition to Petis indicate their interest in serving on the council. Only a year ago, this editorial board was bemoaning the lack of competition for city council seats. In an effort to help rectify that situation, the newspaper even partnered with members of the community to host a series of "Step Up and Serve" forums aimed at educating and inspiring people to run for local office.
We realize seeking an appointment to council rather than filing to serve requires a little less skin in the game, but it was encouraging nonetheless to see so many qualified individuals indicate an interest in serving their community. We hope to see a similar level of interest come November, when four seats, including the newly appointed position, come up for re-election.
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