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  • Dylan Anderson

Steamboat-based ice cream company founder Bryan Swintek announces run for City Council

The 33-year-old who has served on the city’s Planning Commission for the last six months, said he wants to be on Council to help people stay in this special place.

Bryan Swintek, who moved to Steamboat Springs a little over a year ago to start vegan ice cream company Magic Chonk and currently serves on the city’s Planning Commission, is running for the District One seat on City Council.


Still early in the petition process to gather the 25 signatures needed to be on the November Ballot — a process that started this week — Swintek said a big priority for him is to meet with locals, hear from them why Steamboat is special and what their ideas are for the city’s future.


“I’ve found over the past year I’ve been really welcomed and helped by the people I’ve met here, and I’ve realized how special Steamboat is,” Swintek told The Yampa Valley Bugle. “I think I feel the same that everyone else does that we love being here, it feels like a privilege to be here and we want to stay here.”


“That’s my main goal basically, is to just try to help everyone stay in Steamboat,” Swintek said. “It’s special, I love it, I think everyone loves it, everyone is scared of losing it.”


Swintek said to him the general feeling is that people who live here are being squeezed out and are not being prioritized enough — “It shouldn’t be that way.”


“I feel like there are these big things that we could do to help everyone stay here and continue to be here,” Swintek continued. “Those are the things I’d like to push forward: housing, transportation… and balancing all that with the environment.”

Swintek, 33, recognized that he is somewhat new to town, though he has tried to get involved across the community. Joining the Planning Commission about six months ago was a step that has taught him a lot about how the city is planned out, how it grows and how to try to set the right balance. He pointed to one difficult decision on the Planning Commission to vote against rezoning land for a housing project in town that was in the middle of an industrial zone.


“You have this whole block of industrial and then you have one chunk out of the middle of it that is now a residential area,” Swintek said, who voted against the project, though it was ultimately approved. “It’s almost like a short-term problem versus a long-term solution. Will we regret this in 10 or 15 years?”


Swintek said his vote was guided by planning that has been part of the city’s structure for years, in some cases differing to these documents that have been guided by community feedback. While they may be old, these plans are trying to keep consistency to the city.


“It isn’t what I want or what I think it should be. It’s bigger than me,” Swintek said.


Swintek said he has some of his own ideas for how things could be better — He is very supportive of the prospect of a commuter railway between Steamboat, Hayden and Craig, and says Steamboat needs to make Brown Ranch happen — but that he wants to meet with people across the community to learn from them as well.


When asked about his thoughts of Steamboat’s taxing structure and the idea of bringing a potential property tax to voters, Swintek said he needed to gather more feedback before forming his own opinion. (He said he didn’t like Council’s decision to not exempt diapers and other products from sales taxes.)


“I want to reach out to people and just ask for advice,” Swintek said. “Just to ask for their advice, ask what are the big problems that they see. I’m new here, you probably know more than I do so let me know and I’m curious how it will shape how I think.”


In addition to housing and transportation, Swintek said he is a strong advocate for small businesses. While there have been various pro-business voices on council before, he said he feels his experience of currently trying to start a business in Steamboat rather than running a long-established one would be a valuable perspective on council.


As he has contemplated a run for Council, Swintek said he has been watching council meetings and isn’t always satisfied with every decision. One that comes to mind was the decision to allow gas-powered snowmelt at Ski Time Square, a move that really “irked” him.


“We could set a precedent,” Swintek said. “We can set a precedent as a place that has grown both viable with small businesses and supporting our local economy as well as while pushing (The Climate Action Plan) and actually doing that. … I think that we are in a position where we are able to do that kind of stuff and think about it critically.”


Swintek is running in District One, which encompasses much of the west and downtown Steamboat. The only other candidate that has announced their intention to run for council is Council member Michael Buccino, who is running to keep his District Two seat. Swintek has set up a Facebook page for people to follow his campaign.


If you plan to run for City Council, please email me at dylan@yampavalleybugle.com so I can write a story like this about your candidacy.


Top Photo Caption: Bryan Swintek. (Bryan Swintek/Courtesy)

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