True to his low-key form, Val Snider decided last week to break some news in a different way — on his Facebook page. With no fanfare, Snider made known his decision not to pursue a second term on the Colorado Springs City Council.
Snider, a retired Air Force major with a lengthy resumé of civic involvement, had emerged as an impressive winner in 2011 making his initial foray into elective politics. From a gargantuan field of 16 at-large candidates, including several with far more name recognition, Snider pulled 33,843 votes for the third-highest total in the race.
That gave him a four-year term, along with Jan Martin and Merv Bennett, while two other at-large winners, Brandy Williams and Tim Leigh, had to settle for two-year terms before the transition in 2013 from five to three at-large seats (and four to six district representatives).
Williams and Leigh had no choice but to run for district seats in 2013, and both lost as a far more conservative, volatile majority came into power.
Snider, now 60, persevered through all that turmoil and upheaval. Having served in the military, then on the City Planning Commission, the 2005 City Charter Review Commission, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments’ Citizens Advisory Committee and as chair of the Colorado Springs Streetcar Task Force, he brought a lot of knowledge and patience. He knew the inner workings and active issues of the city, and that gave him a clear edge over other less-seasoned Councilors.
You could say that, given the current system and its limitations (in particular, Councilors only earning $6,250 a year for their services), Snider was an ideal at-large representative, elected by all the voters instead of just one district.
So it was logical for Snider after joining City Council to chair the city’s Oil and Gas Committee, working with citizens to draft oil and gas drilling regulations. He also served on the Stormwater Task Force that spent two-plus years producing the ill-fated 2014 ballot issue. As a resident of Mountain Shadows, living in the Parkside neighborhood ravaged by the Waldo Canyon fire, he jumped to serve on the Regional Recovery Team that secured federal assistance for fire-affected areas.
He has done all that without complaint, and he has joined in several Regional Leaders Trips to such destinations as Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., always as an active, engaged participant.
We were hoping Snider would seek a second term, because he surely would be re-elected. We haven’t agreed with all of his decisions and votes, but we’ve always known his reasons were sincere.
Alas, Council’s pervasive atmosphere of pettiness wore him down. Snider openly and repeatedly expressed his frustration with Council President Keith King, and with several others on Council who came in as rookies in 2013 (particularly Joel Miller).
And so, despite the possibility of gaining more influence with a second term, Snider decided the battles weren’t worth it. And we can’t blame him, though it’s a major loss for the city not to have him as a strong-willed but conciliatory voice on Council dealing with a new mayor and other new members.
We don’t see any candidates on the horizon with his level of background, civic involvement and awareness. And that’s a sad commentary.
In fact, if Val Snider wants to reconsider, change his mind and run again, we’d be all for it.