A former Columbia Falls police officer and longtime Columbia Falls planning board member, Steve Hughes says he wants more public involvement in city council decisions.
Hughes, 58, was a Columbia Falls police detective. He retired in 2017 after 11 years on the force. Prior to that, he was a police officer for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and the for Ronan Police Department. All told, he spent 18 years as a police officer. Today he’s retired, but he does work security part-time at the Glacier Park International Airport, he said, when he’s not working on restoring old vehicles.
This is his first run at a city council position.
“I want to continue to serve the community,” he said.
He said growth is the city’s biggest challenge.
“We’re growing and we need to manage that. We’re going to continue to grow, period ... We’re in kind of an identity crisis as we grow,” he said.
He said he’d like to see more public involvement in council decisions.
“The council could do much more with the involvement of the people of Columbia Falls,” he said. “We shouldn’t leave a lot of decisions up to six people.”
His thoughts on a possible resort tax in Columbia Falls?
“Your taxes will be raised one way or the other,” he said. At least with a resort tax, visitors will foot at least some of the bill.
“If you had help paying a bill, wouldn’t you take it?” he said. Having said that, he added that he wanted to know “where every stinking penny goes.”
He said the city needs more paid firemen, could use a couple more police officers and one or two more people in the public works department.
“Everyone is stretched thin trying to do their jobs,” he said.
The planning board recently finished revising the city’s growth policy. He said he thought it was a good plan.
Having said that, he said he thought there was room for change in its as well. He said the city will likely grow to the east and west, because the infrastructure is available.
He said city government could be improved.
“I think we could do a better job with transparency,” he said.
Hughes has lived in Columbia Falls for 13 years with his wife Teresa and two grown boys Colten and Hunter.
He supports the recent development in downtown.
“Yeah, hooray, fantastic,” he said. “Sure there’s more congestion, but that’s what we wanted ... We all want to win the lottery, but we don’t want what comes with it.”