What is your view about the Jefferson Parkway project?
As the Chair of DRCOG and since elected in 2011, I have supported the Parkway. We do need to get regional traffic off of our local roads. It is difficult and unsafe for myself and family to leave our home which is off 56th and Ward because of all the regional traffic on Ward. Much of that traffic is coming from Candelas/Broomfield areas to get either to Downtown or Denver West/Federal Center areas. I believe the Parkway will be one of the final steps in completing the beltway and will encourage new services to our city like a Hospital (which requires a highway next to them to consider building), while reducing traffic on local roads (Ward, McIntyre, Indiana).
What are your views on the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA)?
I believe that AURA has a place to help blighted areas, but over recent years and private sector engagement, my opinion has changed. I believe the private sector seems to be engaged through the City vs Urban Renewal. I think that Elected Officials should be making decisions on the actions and activities of Urban Renewal vs an appointed Board by the Mayor. I think that Urban Renewal’s time has come to an end and I do not see Council approving any new areas in the next 5+ years.
What are your views on using tax increment financing (TIFs) as an incentive for businesses to develop in Arvada?
I do support thoughtful business opportunities that provide a share back of the taxes they generate, which would otherwise not existed. We were able to secure several services that were lacking based on such tax share back, like the King Soopers in Candelas, which was the last store built in Colorado, which also added a few jobs in this area. We were able to have some areas redeveloped without AURA, thus my statement above. I think it is a good tool to use but should be thoughtfully and thoroughly considered when offering/approving a request to use it.
What should the city's role be for utilities such as zoned trash and recycling haulers and broadband internet?
I am in favor of the City implementing organized trash and recycling hauling. We must act soon
1) to improve our recycling efforts and divert from our landfills
2) reduce the trucks on our local roads that are unsafe (frequency) and degrading them more rapidly.
Broadband Internet…I have a long opinion on this, but I will summarize. I think if the private industry does not offer affordable, available and neutral internet, then Government needs to step in. Society expects internet, as much as they expect water to pour from their faucets and their toilets to flush. The issue with the industry has several layers, which cause the “have” and “have nots”. 1) It’s not affordable for minimal bandwidth (25Mb + down and 3 Mb up) to have equal access for education, applying for a job or simply communicating with friends and family. 2) Carriers and Internet Providers are throttling bandwidth for those that cannot afford higher speeds, letting those have quicker services and bandwidth, prioritizing. 3) Peering with other carriers are choked down, so that you have limited access into other internet providers, basically keeping you from having a positive experience or access to information that sits on a different providers network. I can keep going on…love to chat about these issues.
What is your plan to help the city reach 100% use renewable energy by 2035?
Absolutely, but with the current Council, there has been no real driver to push the City into this direction. The City has done some good minimal steps in implementing some measures but could do a lot more. One example, the fleet should transition into using both electric and hybrid vehicles, where it makes senses. Some vehicles won’t be able too, like snow plows. I think we need to continue to grow our solar farms so that all City buildings are completely off the grid.
What does the city need to do to address the needs of the homeless in Arvada?
As far as the “visible” homeless, I think the City is going in the right direction with the new liaison officers, outreach with the region and partners like Jeffco Human Services, collaborating with other Cities. Regarding the “invisible” homeless, we need to continue more efforts around affordable housing. The current Council has fallen short on this topic for years, and my worry is that our “invisible” homeless will become “visible” homeless, if we don’t act NOW! I have stressed my concerns several times in Council meetings with little to no movement or progress in sight.
How do existing city policies encourage gentrification? Will you support a zoning plan that has an emphasis on affordable housing?
I don’t think existing “policies” encourage gentrification, I think the majority of the current Council, has an opinion of private property rights and supporting developers for development sake. When we discuss “thoughtful” development, which I support, all aspects of the development need to be considered. Except for the user of the property, we need to consider direct and indirect impacts. I think sometimes Fire and Schools simply approve development in our criteria, because they don’t feel they have a strong enough voice to say no because of the impacts to their organization. I think they simply “deal” with it. I want us to think about all impacts as well as supporting the needs of our community. I have not thought of “zoning” for affordable housing, I think there are other creative and innovative approaches to achieve affordable housing prior to introducing new zones. Why I say this, is because all the surrounding communities of Arvada are achieving it with little government partnering, and if there is partnering, it is smart and innovative…so why can’t Arvada? What I have heard from Affordable Housing Developers is the Arvada is not “friendly” to those who build such product. Well, I want that to change.
Walk-ability and bike paths are increasingly popular, what are your ideas to increase the walk-ability of neighborhoods and assist the ease and safety of riding bikes?
I want more trails and paths that support both pedestrians and bikers (sometimes they even clash). I would like to see protected bike lanes, but I understand there are some major financial impacts to do so and may not be prudent with so many lane miles needing repair. I want the City to start identifying areas where we see an increase of bikes on our roads and really consider protected lanes. My observation with bicyclists has been more using our trail system vs the roads, so I would also push staff to improve our trail system to support more bicyclists to move throughout the City without even getting onto a road. That would be my preference.
How will you promote fair and equitable treatment of diverse and marginalized communities in terms of fair policing, economic advantages, and employment?
First I would say our police in Arvada are the best and are very professional, treating everyone equally and respectfully. For the rest of the question, since Arvada is a bedroom community with minimal employment opportunities, we need to two things to happen. 1) we need to promote more employment opportunities that provide good working environments. 2) we need to improve our transportation options within our City.
Employment opportunities, we need to preserve those land zones for just those opportunities, sometimes we are too quick to allow re-zoning, which forever looses those opportunities. Recently I see pressures on Council to change Industrial and Retail zones to more Residential…not a fan for this reason as well as providing services into areas of the City that are lacking them.
Transportation options, we cannot count on RTD to provide mass transit to all of Arvada. I wish they did, I wish they would bring more options and stability/consistency to all parts of Arvada. I think because this option is only in select areas, this discourages or limits the potential opportunities for thoughtful development or employment centers.
Tell us about your involvement with city issues, City Council, and city staff. Have you worked for any progressive, local issues, and how did you champion them?
On Council, I was concerned with the churn and low salaries of our Police Officers. Their retirement benefits where lacking in future financial support. First responders have shorter careers, due to the physical wear on their bodies, thus needing to retire sooner than other professions. I have frequently and publicly announced my displeasure of the salaries and retirement funding of the Officers. We require College Degrees, but do not pay them anymore than those that don’t in other cities. Also, we do not allow them to participate in FPPA, a first responder pension program. Therefore, I convinced City leadership and Council to support some sort of compensation, which resulted in an increase to their 401K from 8% to 12%, with the city matching every dollar.
I also assisted with the campaigns to overturn Gallagher for the Arvada Fire Protection District, which assures our first responders are funded appropriately.