Candidate for Arvada City Council, District 4
1. Describe your sense of the role of the City Council in planning for climate change. (Please comment on approaches to ensuring air and water quality. Please include your thoughts on the impacts of real estate development and urban renewal, road construction planning, local transit options such as buses, trains, bikes, and walkways, as well as water conservation and zoning decisions.)
Before we can even discuss this, we must have transit in our City. I have been very vocal about the lack of buses and support from RTD, yet we all pay RTD taxes. We are the 5th largest Metro city, and have the least amount of bus service. We really cannot improve the climate, traffic, single occupancy vehicles, if we don’t have a transit plan. I want RTD to be accountable for delivering services to our community. We have spent millions on the improvement of sidewalks, bus stops, and roads to support buses and RTD simply cancels the line. So we need to take action ourselves. I would like to divert (if possible) RTD taxes to Arvada to provide first and last-mile bus services, or partner with some who can. We need to increase ridership and let RTD handle the regional buses.
I will continue to be adamant that we will not allow development if the infrastructure doesn’t exist, or the development must upgrade it prior to the development being implemented.
2. Explain how you would use your time on City Council to address the needs Arvada residents have for affordable housing. (In addition, please comment on your sense of the ways Arvada City Council might contribute to providing support for Arvadans experiencing housing insecurity or for those who are in fact unhoused.)
We have been discussing this for several years and have a few approaches in the work including the Navigation Center and our Housing Advisory Committee, and we have approved several affordable housing buildings that are currently under construction. We maintain support of government-supported housing for the elderly within Arvada and will continue to do so.
As far as those experiencing housing insecurities, I would like to increase our contribution to Section 8 housing voucher program as the has been several successful outcomes while we still have a waiting list. For those that are unhoused, I believe there are two groups within this category, those who are invisible and those who are chronically criminals.
We spend close to $1.5M on approximately 80 individuals who are continuously committing crimes who are also unhoused. Where we spend ~$400k on several hundreds of individuals to assist with housing,
who are working to survive every day. I want the City to find a way to flip the spending and help those who appreciate the hand up and prevent them from becoming unhoused.
3. Though often portrayed as comprised of people from homogeneous backgrounds, Arvada is diverse, with a wide range of ages, races, ethnicities, and socio-economic circumstances. (If elected, what key approaches might you use while on City Council to help ensure all Arvadans feel welcome and valued in Arvada? How might you ensure all Arvadans feel heard on issues that might vary across different parts of our community? Describe how you might have engaged with people experiencing interactions with law enforcement or receiving different treatment; for instance, some issues we have heard described include being followed while shopping, or the elderly being left behind by city plans.)
I want to continue the City’s plan to increase our overall awareness and effectiveness when it comes to diversity and inclusion. I have always brought up the sign on Kipling and 58th, that stated we are “Building an Inclusive Community”, but pointed out areas where I feel we weren’t back in 2011. We need to focus on easy items that can be implemented and accomplished in short order. An example would be ensuring all surveys could be in different languages. At one time, we did not even publish any Citizen Surveys in Spanish, when our growing population at the time identified as Hispanic. I want our website to continue to be enhanced to ensure all individuals have the accessibility needed to find the information they are looking for. Recently we made a huge update to the website to make it more accessible, but I want us to always be thinking about how to improve. One thing not mentioned, we must continue to focus on is those who have disabilities. It is a little frustrating we talk about inclusion but never include those who have disabilities.
City Council has always taken any interactions with our Police Officers seriously. I also have personally been involved with improvement and transparency within our Police. In fact, Arvada Police was one of the first accredited Police Departments in the US and the first in Colorado by CALEA, which was in 1986, and was re-accredited 10 more times since then, most recently in 2021. With this accreditation it is expected that the agency will have meet over four hundred standards but specifically have comprehensive and uniform written directives that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities; reports and analyses to make fact-based and informed management decisions; community relationship-building and maintenance; independent review by subject matter experts, and a continuous pursuit of excellence through annual reviews and other assessment measures. We have also implemented body-worn cameras which provides accountability of both police and those they interact with.
As far as our community’s elderly population, we do include them with several ways to engage during planning or public hearings. We have received responses through mail, email, virtual conferencing and in person, so I know we have the engagement, but maybe not everyone knows. We will continue to elevate the City Team to find new ways of engagement as much as possible, but I have found over the years that no matter how many ways we try to communicate, it may still not reach everyone. Also, we have been responsive to the growing demand for patio homes and retirement facilities to provide a housing diversity depending on those interested. We also support organizations through Community Development Block Grants that help elderly Arvadans stay in their home through home repairs and other services that they may not afford or have the ability to do. I would like to continue and grow our contribution to these organizations that support our community.
4. How would you characterize your views on urban renewal in Arvada, and what do you see as the next steps for urban renewal here? (Please feel free to comment on issues such as Arvadans’ needs for different sorts of commerce (e.g., small, locally owned businesses versus big-box stores) or housing developments (apartments versus single-family dwellings), or residents’ concerns with how Arvada finances its infrastructure or how Arvadans live with disruptions that attend urban renewal or development efforts.)
I have always been an advocate for small businesses and creating a sense of place. I have advocated within our planning, that we need to create vibrate town centers that local residents could support. There have been several examples throughout the Region, but specifically Five Parks is a good example. Several communities’ leaders have advocated for additional town centers or areas of place making. With limited development in the future, we must protect this vision and not allow it to waiver on this vision. I don’t think big box will survive, but small locally-owned shops and boutiques will. The success of these places has been extortionary and vibrant. I believe any new communities within Arvada being developed need this place making in addition to a diversity of housing options. I do feel that density doesn’t work everywhere and should be close to mass transit. For example, I think density is most effective where we have transit (only two bus lines and one rail in Arvada), there is also some savings in water consumption with fewer lawns, but the City has changed development plans where only 50% of the lot can have any grass and addition of tree lawns.
As far as urban renewal opportunities, they have changed over the decade I have been on Council, in fact, the urban renewal projects have brought Arvada affordable housing in recent years. I believe we need to continue to leverage urban renewal opportunities that address our community needs.
5. In addition to the issues that APA members identified as of concern, what would you add that would help Arvadans better understand who you are and what other goals you might have for Arvada if you are elected to serve on City Council?
Representing District 4 (West Arvada), I will be focused on several issues that West Arvada faces, including wild Land fire planning, including emergency evaluation planning. I will also be focused on the development of our road system, the last of the retail and commercial land use, and making sure that future Metro Districts don’t make our future residents hold massive debt from reckless spending by developers who requested the creation of the Metro Districts. I will hold developers accountable and responsible for the promises they make to our community.
I will continue to uphold a high standard for all of our citizens, visitors, and those who work in our community. I will continue to focus on future generations by ensuring strong and sustainable finances for the City. I will focus on improving our infrastructure and ensuring our resources. I will encourage residents and businesses to be involved and stay active within each neighborhood. Simple actions will improve the quality of life and foster a sense of community. My passion will be working hard for strong local leadership and making thorough and sound financial decisions while focusing on what is important to you, our families, neighbors, and the community.
I look forward to any discussions in the future. Please let me know if anyone has questions or needs clarity on my responses.