Steamboat’s Brenner considers state Senate run
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY ” Ken Brenner got his start in politics after his sister Patty was run over by a truck near Steamboat Springs 15 years ago.
Some teenagers were driving on a county road when their truck hit a large rock and lost control, killing his sister, Brenner said.
Brenner worked to get signs saying “Share the Road” posted around Steamboat Springs and, with a small group of people, Brenner helped make the poorly maintained road safer, he said. Working with several branches of government to improve the road inspired Brenner to go into politics, he said.
“You can either complain about it or get involved and make a difference,” he said. “That’s what I decided to do.”
Now Brenner, Steamboat Springs Democrat, has filed the necessary paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State to run for Senate District 8, whose territory includes Eagle County. Al White, Hayden Republican, is also running to fill the seat now occupied by another Steamboat resident, Jack Taylor. Taylor is term-limited and not running for reelection.
In local government, Brenner has served on Steamboat Springs’ city council and Parks and Recreation Commission and is now the chairman of the Routt County Democratic Party.
Brenner has not committed to running yet. He still has to make sure he has support from the Democratic Party and constituents in District 8. He also has yet to put together a team to help him campaign, he said.
Brenner was born in Steamboat Springs and grew up on a ranch near town. His family has lived in the Yampa Valley for three generations, he said.
The potential candidate was a ski racer and began coaching the sport in 1980. Now he’s an International Ski Federation delegate, making sure everything runs smoothly at ski races. Brenner also likes to hike 14,000-foot peaks, of which he has climbed 35, he said.
He owns Performance Sports Medicine, an alternative physical therapy clinic in Steamboat Springs. He has been married to his wife, Pam, for more than 30 years and has three sons: Daniel, Kenyon and Jacob.
Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney met Brenner at a dinner for Gov. Bill Ritter in Wolcott in September. Stavney said he was impressed by Brenner’s level of interest in local issues.
“He’s a very good listener and very eager to find out more about this part of District 8, which is a good sign,” Stavney said.
Having been a city councilman in a resort economy, Brenner has dealt with some of the same problems in Steamboat Springs that face Eagle County, such as housing and land use, Stavney said.
Brenner is passionate about northwest Colorado’s water rights.
He has aggressively defended water rights in the Yampa Valley, but the entire region’s water supply is being threatened by drought, climate change and proposals to divert water to the Front Range, he said.
Brenner wants to protect Eagle County’s water rights to accommodate growth, he said. He also wants to protect air and water quality here for the future, he said.
The executive committee of Eagle County Democrats is “really pleased” that Brenner is considering the Senate seat, Co-chair New New Wallace said.
Wallace and Brenner recently went on a three-hour hike together and talked politics, she said. Despite being from Steamboat Springs, Brenner is knowledgeable about Eagle County’s problems, she said.
“Ken’s a mountain man, and District 8 is mountains and ski country,” she said. “He knows the issues.”
Eagle County’s population is expected to grow to more than 80,000 in the next 20 years, according to a 2006 Eagle County study. Brenner said he wants to make sure northwest Colorado can meet a growing workforce’s needs, such as health care, public education and affordable housing, he said.
“It’s going to take a good, coordinated effort between the state, the federal governments and the local governments to be able to solve those kinds of problems,” he said.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.