What is your view about the Jefferson Parkway Project?
The Jefferson Parkway has been planned for and anticipated since the 1960s. Regional planners have recognized the value of having this Parkway as an important component of removing regional traffic off of our local roads. Having regional traffic utilizing a regional Parkway assists in air quality in addition to reducing congestion on our local roads.
Today, it is more important than ever—due to regional growth—that personal and commercial vehicles have an efficient roadway system that keeps those vehicles off Indiana, Ward, Simms, Kipling, Wadsworth, 86/88th, 80th, 72nd, 64th, 58th/Ralston Road and 52nd.
Our City Council was very deliberate in requiring notice to all potential home buyers in the neighborhoods around the Parkway, but it is still important to address their concerns, as the Parkway Authority has been doing. I sit on the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority, and I will require the successful bidder to address and provide a very high level of noise and light mitigation. However, this is the perfect opportunity for a public-private partnership. The fact that there were several very qualified proposers to plan, finance, build and operate the Parkway demonstrates the financial viability of this project. The three finalists who will bid on the project will be given very specific requirements to ensure the safety of both motorists and property owners affected by the Parkway.
What are your views on the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority?
I am very proud to serve on the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority Board, which is a volunteer board made up of local individuals who work selflessly on addressing the important work of urban renewal—removing blight and restoring areas to be a valuable part of our community. Without urban renewal, we would not have the successes of “New Town”—the area along Wadsworth south of Grandview. Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Lowes and the other businesses and restaurants in that area provide tremendous sales-tax revenues to Arvada in an area that struggled for years. The same is certainly true for the Target Center on Kipling.
Olde Town is the very example of the successes of AURA. When I first came to Arvada in 1979, Olde Town was comprised of few successful businesses and certainly was not the dynamic, energetic, exciting part of our City that it is today. It took the investments in infrastructure that AURA made to attract the private sector to invest their time, energy and money into making Olde Town the very special place it is today.
AURA has long recognized the importance of transit-oriented development, which is why we have successful residential projects at both the Olde Town and Kipling G Line Stations. These residential developments have, and will continue to offer, a mix of residential options and are crucial to utilizing appropriate density versus urban sprawl.
No discussion of AURA would be complete without a discussion of the old Arvada Square/Arvada Plaza. While some viewed the coming of Walmart as the end of the world, in reality it has been part of the kick start for the whole Ralston Creek area. Sales-tax revenues have been excellent, and the attractive and successful Shops at Ralston Creek North have revitalized this area. Current plans and projects include Senior Housing and for-sale townhomes to add vitality and additional energy to this important area.
What are your views on using tax increment financing (TIFs) as an incentive for businesses to develop in Arvada?
Tax increment financing is an important tool in the tool box for economic development. There is a misconception that TIFs are simply a payment to businesses to attract them to the community. In fact, the businesses pay for the infrastructure that the City would otherwise have to construct and pay for, and then these businesses are reimbursed over time if they are successful with a portion of the sales-tax receipts up to the level of their initial expenditures for that project. Without the use of TIFs, much of this investment from businesses would not occur, at a tremendous loss of tax revenues, jobs, and shopping and dining opportunities for our residents.
The tax revenues Arvada has received as a result of TIF projects are multiple million dollars, which have given your City Council the opportunity to put additional funding into our streets, parks, trails, police and infrastructure without raising taxes—while maintaining a balanced budget with healthy financial reserves. In no small part, AURA and the utilization of TIFs has assisted Arvada in maintaining its AAA Bond rating.
What should the city’s role be for utilities such as zones trash and recycling haulers and broadband internet?
I was on City Council during the first discussions of single hauler trash hauling, and I recognize that there are a lot of opinions on this topic. When our Sustainability Committee came back to City Council in 2018-19 on this topic, I did not shy away from revisiting the issue. I live in a HOA community that utilizes a single hauler, and it has certainly resulted in an increased utilization of recycling in our household—and lower fees. As such, I see the value.
It is important that we see the results of the Request for Proposals from the industry to verify that there would indeed be a cost savings to our community and to address concerns raised by many regarding service levels. As was the case with broadband, this is an issue that I think is important enough, with many citizens on both sides of the issue, to warrant putting an advisory question on the ballot so that there can be healthy public education and debate. I, for one, will vote consistent with the outcome of that advisory question.
I fully supported putting the Broadband question on the ballot, and I recognize the importance of having the option to explore all broadband options. Having the results of that vote in our hip pocket has put Arvada in a favorable position with broadband providers, as they recognize that if they don’t enhance service and delivery, the City can step in.
I am also very proud of the work we have been doing in getting fiber optics into the ground along our roadways and neighborhoods. Even in areas where fiber is not being installed, we are taking advantage of opportunities to put conduit into the ground so we can install the fiber down the road at a tremendous cost savings.
What is your plan to help the city reach 100% use renewable energy by 2035?
I personally have over the past 20 years developed an excellent working relationship with officials from Xcel Energy and worked diligently with them on the emphasis of developing and utilizing renewable energy. As a result, Arvada cooperated in the approval of their latest substation, which greatly enhanced their ability to utilize solar energy. Additionally, I supported the installation of the solar farm north of 86th Parkway and Alkire, and I fully support additional solar farms being planned. As a City Council, we have set goals for the utilization of natural gas-powered vehicles and expansion of electric-vehicle charging stations. I encourage and would love to see 100% utilization of renewable energy and will continue to work on this goal when reelected.
What does the city need to do to address the needs of the homeless in Arvada?
I spoke extensively about this issue during my State of the City Address this year, and my position on this topic is set forth on my website. This is clearly not just an Arvada issue, but a regional, statewide and national issue. During my eight years as Mayor, and as Past President of the Colorado Municipal League, I have become very involved in the best practices to address issues of the homeless while addressing concerns of the community at large. I am proud of the work being done in Arvada through the use of social workers assisting our police officers who interact daily with our homeless population. We are being successful in connecting individuals who need assistance with the resources that are there to help them. On the other hand, we are dealing appropriately with those individuals who are a public safety risk to themselves or others. I want and expect Arvada to be a community that is safe for everyone.
On a county basis, we are developing a countywide Navigator Program to provide a city employee who will further help assist those who will accept and benefit from the various service providers in the nonprofit and faith-based communities. I have developed during my time as Mayor an excellent working relationship with our faith-based community and urged their involvement, which has led to their incredible participation in cold-weather shelters and other efforts. I constantly advocate for these types of partnerships because together we can achieve so much more than we can do on our own.
In my role as the incoming Chair of the Metro Mayors Caucus, I am forefront in the efforts throughout the region to better assess how we can avoid simply moving the homeless from community to community. Along with my fellow mayors who have selected me for leadership, we are raising funds for transitional housing, emergency housing and other long-term solutions to this troubling issue. The Metro Mayors Caucus has recognized the impact of opium addiction and mental health as contributors to the homeless issue and are addressing these issues head on. My leadership role in this organization is an asset to Arvada as we continue to look at best practices—locally, countywide and regionally.
How do existing city policies encourage gentrification? Will you support a zoning plan that has an emphasis on affordable housing?
I recognize the importance of balance between private-property rights and the protection of existing neighborhoods. I am proud of the work City Council did with the Reno Park community to protect the existing neighborhood while giving the opportunity for compatible replacement construction. This shows that existing City policies do not encourage gentrification. I have been a champion both with Council and AURA on exploring affordable-housing options and having a thorough mix of housing options throughout Arvada. City Council serves as the Housing Authority for the City and optimizes our use of Section 8 housing funds. Under my leadership, City Council unanimously supported the proposed senior housing and Habitat for Humanity projects. I am excited at the prospect of a proposed microhousing project, and continue to work with others on bringing affordable-housing projects on line.
I have long believed that homeownership often begins with a townhouse or condo. Because of this, I have testified at the State Legislature on construction-litigation reform, which has been a barrier to the construction of these type of units both in Arvada and throughout the Metro region. We have reached some level of success through the Metro Mayors Caucus on this. In addition, at my urging, Arvada City Council has adopted “Plat notes” legislation to provide for mediation and arbitration instead of litigation to address legitimate construction-defect issues. These efforts are showing results, as we are indeed seeing an increase in construction of multi-family owner-occupied properties, which can be purchased at a lower cost than single-family homes.
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?
You are preaching to the choir when it comes to the use of Arvada’s great trail system. My wife Luanne and I have been riding our tandem bike throughout Arvada and the region for years. It brings a smile to my face to see the number of citizens who utilize this system and who send a friendly wave while we share the trails. I have been an advocate for Safe Routes to School initiatives and constructing our missing links on both our sidewalks and trails systems. Arvada has received recognition as a Bike Friendly community, and I have worked with our team on designated bike lanes and routes. As we look to the construction of the Jefferson Parkway, an important component will be a bike/pedestrian trail component.
I am extremely proud of our successful efforts to bring a park within a 10minute walk of every resident of Arvada. Our strong economic-development efforts, including funding generated by AURA, have given Arvada the resources to maintain and expand our park, trail and bike system, and when re-elected, I will continue to put an emphasis on this important quality-of-life asset for our community.
How will you promote fair and equitable treatment of diverse and marginalized communities in terms of fair policing, economic advantages, and employment?
The Arvada Police Department is second to none, and the approach we have taken with community policing has continued a humanizing, caring attitude of which I am extremely proud. I have demonstrated the ability to conduct public hearings in a manner that makes speakers of whatever side of an issue feel safe and heard while expressing their views. That is not always true in other communities. In my involvement with the Arvada Economic Development Corporation, Jefferson County Economic Development Association and the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, I have worked steadfastly in job creation opportunities. A rising tide raises all boats, and through my leadership, Arvada is in a very healthy, growing financial and economic position.
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 been involved with city issues since I first came to work in Arvada in 1979. My initial involvement came through the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, where I served on the Government Affairs committee and eventually became President of the Chamber. We worked on a number of city issues, including job-creation efforts, the sign code, city processes, salary and benefit discussions—just to name a few. I was honored to be appointed in 1989 by the County Commissioners to serve as the Arvada representative to the Jefferson County Library Board of Trustees, and served as Chair of that Board. During my time on the Library Board, we built the Standley Lake Library, which enjoys exceptional usage to this day (including my latest granddaughter).
In 1999, I successfully ran for an at-Large seat on the City Council, and was re-elected two times. I served with two dynamic mayors—Ken Fellman and Bob Frie—and learned much from their leadership. Being Mayor is not something to be taken lightly—it is a lot of work, and serving on Council first really gives an individual the opportunity for on the job training and exposure to the issues that our City deals with daily.
In 2011, I was honored to be elected Mayor of this great City and was thrilled to be re-elected in 2015. Because there are many important issues still ongoing, and at the urging of many individuals, I am running for my third term this November. One of my greatest prides as Mayor is the cohesive nature of our City Council. At the Metro Mayors Caucus, I constantly hear about the infighting and divisiveness of other City Councils. In Arvada, I believe I have worked very hard to develop a culture of mutual respect among the seven of us. We don’t always agree, but we disagree agreeably. We are the envy of our surrounding communities, and the culture we have developed serve our citizens well. I treat my fellow Council Members with the respect they all deserve, and I value their inputs and positions. Everyone gets an opportunity to fairly state their positions, and we make intelligent decisions as a direct result.
Our City Team is second to none. City Manager Mark Deven is respected internally and throughout the Metro region. Mark and I meet weekly to discuss the Monday Agenda and pressing issues. We have a mutual respect and working relationship that benefits Council, our Team, and the citizens at large. I was saddened personally for the retirement announcement from City Attorney Chris Daly, but happy for him personally. He has been a great asset and guidance to me for the past 20 years and will leave very large shoes to fill. While recognizing and respecting the limits of our City Charter in terms of involvement with individual employees, I have always found our Team to be dedicated to the best interests of our citizens and our City. I work cooperatively with them and am their cheerleader.
The last part of your question troubles me. You ask about “progressive local issues.” I firmly believe that for municipal issues, we are not about “progressive” or “Republican” or “Democrat.” There are no “Republican” or “Democrat” or “Progressive” potholes. I am concerned when any political party or group attempts to bring partisan politics into local politics. That is why Council and Mayor candidates run without party affiliation. We see the negative aspects of partisan politics at the state and certainly the national level and to bring this into the safe haven of municipal issues is a big mistake.
So without labeling them as “progressive local issues,” I have been the champion of many important issues in Arvada both as a Council member and as Mayor. I stand on my record of proven leadership and respect from my fellow Council members, the City Team and City leaders and the role I have played and will continue to play on a regional basis as Chair of the Metro Mayors Caucus.
No local issue is more important than public safely. Under my watch, Arvada has added three community police stations so that we can promote community policing and rapid response times. We have added to our award winning police team to address our growing population.
Local media and others have commented on my role in breaking the log jam of regulations that was delaying the opening of RTD’s Gold Line. We are enjoying today the fruits of many years of effort in bringing commuter rail to Arvada. I personally was involved in negotiations to reduce the cost to our citizens of the Transit Hub, and thank City Council for their support of those negotiations.
I was a champion for the initial Red Rocks Community College in Arvada and was an advocate for Arvada’s participation, along with the Community First Foundation, for the expansion of that campus. This college is a great option for students who want an associate’s degree or to earn credits toward more advanced degrees. Likewise, our City Council has been a great partner with Jefferson County Schools, recognizing the importance of public education for our students and workforce development.
For years, I have been an advocate for Arvada having a dedicated, protected source of safe drinking water. Again, I was designated as the Council negotiator during litigation between Arvada and the Denver Water Board over water rates and our role in Gross Reservoir. We successfully resolved our issues with Denver Water, resulting in a long-term savings to our ratepayers (all of you) in many millions of dollars. I believe the negotiation skills I have developed as a practicing attorney, and the credibility I bring to the table, have benefited our citizens greatly during my time of service. Today, we enjoy an excellent working relationship with the Denver Water Board based on mutual trust and respect.
It is frequently joked that I am the biggest cheerleader for Arvada, and I accept the role gladly. I help celebrate the ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings of every job-creation project that we have brought our way. I jump at the opportunity to visit our senior citizens in their assisted-living homes and have shared many a “Happy Birthday” with citizens celebrating their 100th birthdays. I relish my visits to our local schools to read children’s books or talk about civic involvement.
I take seriously City Council’s role in maintaining our infrastructure, maintaining appropriate financial reserves, and our 10-year budgeting to balance out the good times and bad times. Our track record is excellent—the City of Arvada is on the right track.
Our quality of life will always be what drives me, and our No. 1 issue will always be to make Arvada the best possible community to live, work, learn and play.