Dillon City Council candidates John Woods and Kevin Stout addressed short-term rentals, Uptown 240 and the Dillon Town Center Improvement Plan to a crowd of around 20 Dillon residents on Wednesday afternoon at Dillon City Hall.
The two candidates will be vying for the open Dillon City Council seat left by Steve Milroy in the spring. Voters can make their decision in person on September 13 at Dillon Town Hall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. or by postal vote. Postal voting forms must be submitted no later than September 9.
Both Woods and Stout have expressed a desire for Dillon voters to go to the polls.
“The Board (members) will take us more seriously if we have 800 votes instead of 50 votes,” Woods said.
The candidates filed their platforms in August. Stout is a 10-year-old local who said he wanted to listen to locals and strike a balance between residents, businesses, the city and tourists.
Woods became a full-time resident in 2020, but “always wanted to be this local in the mountains.” Woods said he’s an “ideas guy” who – win or lose – wants to tell people his thoughts and make them happen.
The pair took direct questions from moderator Phil Lindeman of Krystal 93 on Wednesday night and from voters, a few of whom asked about the candidates’ positions on short-term rentals and recent ballot measures.
“I don’t like taxing property,” Stout said. “I don’t like to tax you (and) not me.”
Stout hadn’t made up his mind on the tax – whether the benefits outweigh the cost to homeowners. He acknowledged that short-term rentals can strain local resources and said a solution was needed.
Woods said he doesn’t want the city to control whether a landlord is allowed to rent short-term. In other words, he opposed a cap or a moratorium on short-term rentals.
“To me, they’re absolutely no different than a hotel,” Stout said. If a property is not someone’s primary residence, it should be taxed as a hotel and treated as a business. He sees it as a business operating in a residential area, which he has problems with.
That said, Stout doesn’t think the city should tell a landlord they can’t rent short-term, and he opposed creating a cap or moratorium on rental licenses. As long as the landlord respects his homeowners association and respects his neighbors, he thinks he should be able to rent short term.
Both contestants were asked about Uptown 240. Both responded by saying, looking back, the project should never have been approved.
“They weren’t qualified,” Stout said.
“I think everyone knows this place is over,” Woods said. “The question is when.”
Uptown 240 was not the only concern addressed. Both candidates were asked what they think are Dillon’s biggest problems.
“I think we’re making great progress,” Stout said.
For Stout, the city continues to grow well with new hotels and medical centers, but whenever the city does something, it needs to hear from its people. This is his biggest concern.
“I will listen. I will make myself available,” he said. “I won’t always agree with you, but I will agree to listen.”
After speaking with locals, Woods said his main concern was downtown and restoring its “brilliance.” The core should have improved housing density and include more attractions for tourists and their full wallets, Woods said. The more Dillon can market himself to the more than 500,000 drivers passing through Interstate 70 each month, the better, he said.
Candidates were asked how well they could work in a communication-heavy consulting environment. Stout spoke about his negotiations with the city council as part of the Dillon Resident Coalition. He said he led residents in a meeting with council not to put parking in the middle of his neighborhood.
“It was my approach that said we can sit down and we can work this out in a meeting,” he said.
“I think you are pushing. You stand for what you believe. And then you move on,” Stout said.
A counselor should continue to fight for old and tired issues, Stout said.
Woods highlighted his background in high-level business and negotiations before embarking on his idea of collaborating with Vail Resorts to house employees at Dillon’s marina and summer amphitheater. The same, he said, could be sought for the amphitheater security team, which is currently driving from Grand Junction.
“I want to make sure, though, that we don’t follow blindly,” Stout said.
While the city can work with other local partners, Stout said he felt Dillon sometimes parodied other cities without fully considering the consequences of his actions back home.