I am the incumbent Ward 1 City Councilman and am the current Mayor Pro-tem. I proposed and chaired the committee that rewrote our Campaign Finance Ordinance, which severely limits the influence of special interest money. I also have served on and chaired the Lakewood Head Start Governing Board and have been chair of Council's screening committee. And, as a member of the Development Dialog Committee, I played a large role in correcting many of the short-comings in the 2012 rewrite of the Zoning Ordinance. As a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, I covered many local governments, including Lakewood. I often saw elected officials approve legislation,but fail to consider the impacts and unexpected consequences for families, homes, neighborhoods, local businesses and, most frequently, those folks whose voices are rarely heard. I know how to analyze and recognize the potential pitfalls that elude decision-makers who do not do their homework. I come from a blue-collar background and know first-hand the difficulties working families face. I recognize the desperation many families face when trying to keep a roof over the heads of their children, and the struggle to maintain a secure and reliable environment for their children. As a four-year member of Council’s Head Start Committee I have met many families who have few resources but who work hard to provide the same opportunities for their children that many families take for granted.
Achieving "equity" is the greatest challenge for Ward 1, Lakewood’s most under-served collection of neighborhoods: Our Ward has the city’s fewest parks, the least Open Space and is the only Ward without a recreation or community center. Redevelopment spending and resources for our stretch of West Colfax Avenue lags that spent on the remainder of the corridor by millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of staff time. Ward 1's historic sites fall to make room for self-storage buildings and apartment projects. The Mixed-Use requirement delivered in community-compiled documents is skirted and replaced with tracts of single-use, high-density housing projects. To restore equity, the distribution of revenue from the voter-approved TABOR refund should be weighted toward areas of greatest need. And distribution of Economic Development Funding for redevelopment should be directed to remedy the current imbalance.
The City Charter requires Council to implement initiated ordinances without change for at least 6 months. During that time, as well as after, Council should use the provisions of Question 200 to divert much of our development focus from construction of high-end, mega apartment buildings to increasing our severe lack of affordable/attainable housing stock. And, because the ordinance returns Council’s oversight of projects of 40 units or more, we must provide more ownership opportunities and ensure that development and redevelopment occurs in the right areas. And we must use the ordinance to mitigate the effects of the spiraling growth we have experienced in the recent past when residential unit construction increased from about 1,000 units from 2010-2014 to about 1,000 units annually from 2014-2018, straining the capacity of our infrastructure.
Our sense of community sets us apart. Lakewood’s neighborhoods, schools and businesses thrive because they work together to make our city the epitome of a hometown, one that we cherish and one that we strive to make a safe, healthy and robust place to live. Our parks and Open Spaces offer recreational opportunities as well as places for serenity and reflection. And the combined efforts of our service organizations, faith-based groups and charitable centers reach out to those seeking a helping hand. Lakewood’s inclusive and sustainable future is our common goal and our strongest asset as the most comfortable and welcoming place to live in the metro area and beyond.
Ward 1’s challenge is to retain the open and spacious character of its diverse collection of neighborhoods while providing jobs and amenities for its residents. The redevelopment of a large swath of West Colfax Avenue should be, according to the Comp Plan, "Vibrant". But the current trend toward multifamily-dominated redevelopment is an obstacle to achieving that goal of being "Vibrant". And following the Comp Plan's most clearly-defined growth areas should prevent zone-creep by limiting density on the fringes of our established neighborhoods. The Plan's goals of health and sustainability can best be met by adding more Open Space acreage for recreation, sites for dog parks, more playground equipment in neighborhood parks and community garden plots to bolster healthy diets. And we can achieve greater safety by funding sidewalks to provide safer paths to school and funding for major improvements to our overburdened storm-water drainage systems.
My vision is that our community's economy thrives and that our hometown feel remains intact, and that all our residents feel safe, welcome, respected and valued. We must remain an inclusive and encouraging community, a place where all cultures are celebrated and where every neighbor has a helping hand when needed. I have been working hard to assure that Lakewood city government is open and transparent, that it is a that is influenced by the needs and goals of community members, not the influence of special interests or divisive political-party agendas. Lakewood's future should be one directed by community mandates and community aspirations. After our next 50 years as a city, our vision for our hometown should reflect well on those of us who play a role in determining where we go from here.
I started my career working in a patient centered medical home as a care manager for diabetic patients. During my years in clinical practice, I started to understand that many of the barriers to health that my patients were running into could only be changed through public policy. Because of this, I decided to work in health policy rather than clinical medicine. I worked at a health policy non-profit, as a consultant on public health projects, as a legislative aide in the Colorado state legislature, and now in higher education policy. I was a director on a number of campaigns that are incredibly important to this community (5A/5B, 2D) because just voting yes isn’t enough. Through my public health consulting, I developed experience bringing folks together to solve incredibly complex issues, and I intimately understand the need for and the process of stakeholder work. I know how to facilitate complicated communication and bring people together toward a common purpose. Long story short, my experience, my community engagement and prioritizing stakeholder work are the foundation for policies I’ll bring to Ward One.
I’m running for council to improve the health, sustainability, and inclusivity of our community. My experience working with patients with chronic illnesses taught me that cities have a major role in improving community health. I will work to expand access to healthy food, affordable housing and transportation, clean air and water, parks in every neighborhood, and quality after-school programs. All of these investments are critical to the health of Lakewood families. By looking at our city’s challenges through a health care lens, we can make better policy to improve our quality of life and reduce health care costs.
I completely understand the pressures people feel about growth. I moved to Lakewood because I love the land, community, and the rural feel while being close to the city. That said, I was frustrated by the lack of stakeholder work done by the proponents in drafting the ordinance. The language theoretically allows affordable housing and senior housing to be developed in our city, and I intend to make sure that goal is realized. I’ll make sure that growth is happening in the right places, like the West Colfax corridor and near light rail stations.
The people! I was born in Mobile, Alabama, and the sense of community in the south is really special. My family moved to Castle Rock when I was nine years old, and the feeling was totally different, but when I settled down in Lakewood, it was like I was in the south again. Lakewood truly is an inclusive community, and I felt welcome right away. It’s been so great to get to visit with all of the active neighborhood and business groups who work to make our community safe, prosperous, and beautiful.
The updates to the Comprehensive Plan will have major implications for growth and affordable housing, and I believe we must continue thinking about how and where Lakewood should grow. One thing I love about the Comprehensive Plan process is that we include community members, staff, local businesses and anyone else who will be affected. I’m also incredibly excited to work on expanding the sustainability portion of the plan. We are lucky to live in a state that is taking climate change very seriously, and all Colorado cities will have more and more opportunities to modernize our infrastructure to save energy and taxpayer dollars as we move into the future.
Colorado is currently the 8th healthiest state in the United States and my vision is that Lakewood takes the social determinants of health seriously and works to become the healthiest city in the country. That means prioritizing affordable housing, taking local action on climate change, increasing walkability and alternative transportation infrastructure, expanding our parkland and open spaces, supporting our seniors in aging the way they want to and investing in the future of our children.
Through my work in public health policy, I developed expertise bringing folks together around complex issues. Now more than ever, we need leaders who know how to do deep stakeholder work before creating and implementing policies. I will bring people together to build a future in which our kids and grandkids have an even better quality of life than we have.