What is your view about the Jefferson Parkway project?
My view about the Parkway is that is needs to be approached with the utmost focus on the public health and safety. The citizens of Arvada are concerned, and they have just cause to be. However, the current City Council has already voted to approve the next steps of the Parkway’s development; should I win this election I will need to look forward at what is possible not what I would have done differently. Listening to the feedback from District 4 residents will be at the center of any and all considerations made.
As it stands, any development for the Parkway must include proactive measures that will protect both workers and local residents from hazards that may be present within that soil. I would also like to see creative solutions presented during the bid process, such as in regards altering the proposed route or even an elevated Parkway that minimizes ground disturbance as well as wreckage, debris and fire threats for the surroundings residents.
What are your views on the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA)?
The Arvada Urban Renewal Authority was created to serve an important mandate; however, that mandate has generated controversy and sewn distrust in our community because of how it has been executed.
This is why I support Council bring AURA back under partial Council control. In many of our neighboring communities, City Council audits Urban Renewal funds and planned projects to ensure that they are in line with the public and community interest. This is the approach Arvada should be taking. We need to our use public funds to benefit the public and in particular our local business owners, not major developers without community ties to Arvada.
What are your views on using tax increment financing (TIFs) as an incentive for businesses to develop in Arvada?
I support Urban Redevelopment that is done right—focusing on blight and disrepair in areas of our community that have been ignored and forgotten about and for the benefit of local businesses. That is where we should be focusing our TIF funding efforts—not on properties that would be desirable for development by large private interests even without TIF.
As stated above, I would like to see TIF financing focused to prioritize providing local business owners with assistance such as parking lot and façade upgrades, helping them maintain their presence in our community and compete. In the case of major development projects, TIF financing needs to be used sparingly. Arvada today is not the Arvada of 10, 20 or 30 years ago. We are officially the “coolest suburb in Colorado;” this is a very desirable place to live and do business. Developers and major companies know this, and they want to be a part of this community too. They can be, but we don’t need to incentivize a presence that would happen organically. Public funds should be directed towards our infrastructure and improvements that directly benefit our residents.
What should the city's role be for utilities such as zoned trash and recycling haulers and broadband internet?
I support the city encouraging quality, streamlined services for our citizens. Despite some heated rhetoric on social media, the city is not going to force anyone to recycle or compost. However, by providing the bins without an extra cost, many citizens will feel incentivized to do so of their own accord. There should not be a penalty (extra cost) for being a responsible citizen who cares to recycle!
There are a great deal of additional benefits to organized waste hauling, broadband internet and collective bargaining in general. When citizens go-in together, they are able to negotiate lower prices because the volume of service enables significant discount (lower administration costs, fewer logistical and material needs, etc.) These are win-win market dynamics.
While I cannot say how I would vote on any given issue without the exact proposals in front of me, I am strongly inclined to support any common-sense solution that preserves our infrastructure, reduces emissions, improves public safety and saves our citizens money in the process.
What is your plan to help the city reach 100% use renewable energy by 2035?
The city needs to set aspirational goals if it plans to be a city positioned to succeed in the future. One of these goals needs to be a firm recognition of the energy revolution currently underway, and a long-term vision for how we address that change and facilitate a seamless transition that “keeps the lights on” as we undergo the process.
Arvada is home to some beautiful rural lands. Rather than see these entirely developed into housing – which I doubt anyone in our community thinks is a great idea – would it be feasible to establish a solar farm that generates clean, sustainable energy instead?
I would also like to see Arvada partner with like-minded local municipalities – Aspen, Lakewood, Westminster, etc. – to embrace climate goals and make the local investments (LEED building development, electric car charging stations, water recycling systems in new housing, single-hauler trash services, etc.) that are necessary to compliment action happening at the state, federal and international levels.
What does the city need to do to address the needs of the homeless in Arvada?
This is an incredibly complex and complicated issue. Truthfully, it cannot be addressed in a short-form answer, and no one has figured out a perfect solution.
To be sure, coordination city-to-city and city-to-county is critical to finding a solution. This is an all-hands situation that will need government, public and private players to step-up and support. I’m grateful to our local churches and other organizations that are already working in this space, and will look to them for insight and leadership where they are able to provide it.
So-called “camping-bans” only criminalize the vulnerable and force them to migrate from one place to another. This doesn’t address the problem; it just moves it out of immediate sight.
I’m supportive of the Arvada Police Department’s new initiative to reach out to these communities with specially trained officers that understand the needs of these vulnerable citizens. We need to have resources available for those that wish to receive help and let those that aren’t ready know where to go when they are. The city should also prioritize development of an overnight shelter, ideally with mental health and drug rehabilitation counseling services that can make referrals for more comprehensive care.
I’m also deeply concerned about the working poor and transitionally homeless. Often, when we think “homeless” we envision the chronically homeless I refer to above. The transitionally homeless are those that we can get back on their feet with a hand-up and prevent them from becoming the chronically homeless. Programs such as security deposit assistance and small, low-to-no interest loans designed to cover short-term rent/mortgage needs can make all the difference for those experiencing hard times.
How do existing city policies encourage gentrification? Will you support a zoning plan that has an emphasis on affordable housing?
Arvada is a very special place to live, so I do not want to get into the negative space of criticizing current city leaders and the work they have done for our community.
The current course Arvada finds itself in regard to development is one that is scrambling to add housing options and amenities, and many in the public feel that it is being done so without serious regard to the existing character of our communities or consideration of the demands on our infrastructure. The sense that growth is happening too quickly is fostering a potential backlash that could result in public support for a “growth cap” initiative, like was recently seen in Lakewood with Proposition 200.
Arvada’s zoning plan needs to step back and take a serious, comprehensive look at housing affordability, location and transportation and manage future growth in a thoughtful way. Historic areas should be protected, including those amenities – like the view from Grandview in Olde Town – that add to the quality of life in our city.
We need density housing options that make sense and that connect to public transportation services, alleviating congestion on our roads and promoting sustainability. Affordable housing solutions for seniors wanting to downsize will also alleviate some pressure on single family housing stock. And creative options, such as “sunshine housing”, tiny homes and an artists-in-residence housing program should all be on the table. No one solution is a silver bullet, but each makes progress to the larger goal.
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?
Bike lanes are a commonsense investment that increase the safety of cyclists, reduce congestion on our roads and move auto traffic more seamlessly through their commutes. I would be interested in seeing all new primary road construction as well as road renovation mandate the installation of a bake lane on each side of the road.
Additionally, wide, disability-friendly sidewalks should be a part of every neighborhood community. This means a serious city effort to restore cracked and crumbling sidewalks in our more established neighborhoods – like those in District 2 – that have buckled and broken under pressure from the elements and earth. In our city center spaces and along primary road routes, wide, accessible sidewalks are critical to ensuring the safety of our residents as well as encouraging use by all citizens.
How will you promote fair and equitable treatment of diverse and marginalized communities in terms of fair policing, economic advantages, and employment?
To start, economic opportunity for everyone starts when the city is willing to stand up for the rights and well-being of its citizens. The City of Arvada should prioritize city contracts to be awarded to businesses that are local and have a demonstrated track record of “best value” labor practices. This looks comprehensively at wages, worker safety and wellness, and fair and transparent business practices. When we stand by our values, we shift the conversation to a ‘race to the top’ rather than the bottom.
The city should also ensure that public communications are available in English and Spanish, and that we are working hard to communicate with our residents where they are and within their comfort zones. Everyone who lives here is a part of this community, and as city representatives it is important to be mindful of systemic barriers many residents face and do the hard work to ensure that they feel represented as well.
In line with this, the city can partner with local public schools, Red Rocks Community College, the Chamber, labor organizations, local service groups and more to ensure that talent pipeline and workforce development programs are reaching students and workers who may not be aware of the opportunities available to them, particularly within communities of color and ESL that often find themselves underserved.
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?
I have attended several City Council meetings as well as watched countless more online. I have also sat down for conversations with numerous city staff and community influencers, including Council Members Nancy Ford and Mark McGoff, City Manager Mark Devin, Chief of Police Link Straite, Historical Society influencer Mary Jo Giddings, and many more.
My own direct involvement in the community includes sitting on the JeffCo Public Schools District Accountability Committee; serving as Secretary (2016-17) and now President (2018-19) of the Jefferson County Young Democrats; and volunteering with the Keep Olde Town Beautiful clean-up group each month, picking up trash around our beloved Olde Town.
I have also volunteered as a canvasser, phone-banker and lit/yard sign runner to (re)elect several of our great representatives, including Brianna Titone, Tracy Kraft-Tharp, Rachel Zenzinger and Ed Perlmutter.