I grew up in Lakewood since the age of 13. Graduated from Jefferson High School. MS degree in nursing from CU. Walt and I have been married for 52 years and have 3 grown children and one grandchild. My background in nursing includes coronary intensive care, hospice, case management, and home care coordinator. I have served in the Colorado State Legislature and as prime sponsor successfully passed 10 bills - one bill was landmark legislation. I was recognized as Alumni of The Year at CU Health Science and Legislator of The Year for 3 entities. I have served on numerous state boards.
The most obvious challenge is a lack of trust in our city and elected officials. Once we start trusting the residents, they will put their trust in us. At that point we can once again start to move our city forward.
Public input needs to be sought and valued. Find more ways to communicate with the residents. Discussions regarding issues like changing traffic patterns or new developments should have real community input. We also need to provide timely updates regarding executive sessions.
Public safety - Crime & traffic congestion have increased along with our population explosion - public safety is a core value & priority – the budget should reflect this. Proactive leadership - ongoing meetings with police department/court system for informed policy - this reflects a “best practices” model. They have a difficult job-we need to give them the resources necessary to deal with these issues.
First, Question 200 needs to be implemented based on voter intent and expectation. Psychologically the change is important - residents feel empowered that their voices were heard. Because, not everyone believed this to be the right direction - honest and sincere outreach to all for inclusion of their concerns during implementation. Knowing that in the end, we all want the same thing for our city, this can move forward in a positive way.
Easy, the people who have chosen Lakewood as their home and honestly want Lakewood to thrive and be inclusive.
What is best for one area of our city is not always best for another area. In the last Comprehensive Plan, the city made a decision to eliminate the individual neighborhood “plans” that had been compiled by the residents and have one plan for the entire city. We need to organize neighborhood focus groups and add back the real feedback from residents that know their community. As our city is diverse so should be the focus groups. Ensure these voices are heard and their ideas are included in the final draft.
We have an opportunity to begin the awakening of a new chapter based not only on past accomplishments such as Sustainable Neighborhoods and success of Belmar but incorporate what we have learned and take it to the next highest level of new successes. Our future is bright!
Lakewood isn’t just my home. Lakewood is my family.
I lost my mom when I was twelve, after a six-year battle with breast cancer. My dad, a local pastor, never escaped his grief – dying of alcoholism when I was 22. As a Green Mountain kid, I enjoyed playing sports in our local parks and learned to ride my bike in the fields that make up one of Lakewood's newest neighborhoods, Solterra. It was in this community that I found the support I needed. As a youth I got into trouble now and then, meeting the Lakewood Police “maybe” once or twice, yet I got the chances needed to make something of myself.
Lakewood picked me up and wouldn’t let me fail. After dropping out briefly, with the support of great teachers, family, and friends I graduated from Green Mountain High School.
That’s called community. That’s Lakewood.
I started a small transportation business in 2001, which I still operate today, and enrolled at Red Rocks Community College to study Political Science. Wanting to give back to Lakewood I ran and was elected to the Green Mountain Water Board, serving six years. I had the opportunity to continue my public service and ran for the Lakewood City Council in 2007, serving two terms.
During my first term on City Council, I graduated from the University of Colorado, Denver. Upon graduation, I opened a letter from my mom that she had written in her last days. In it, she tasked me to, “work hard to change the ugliness, but always take time to see the beauty.” As a public servant, I have tried to live by and uphold her words every day. That’s why I ran to be your Mayor in 2015, and together we have worked hard and have accomplished much.
Lakewood has had some great wins, receiving the prestigious All America City award in 2016. Our community was honored because we came together – whether from churches, schools or nonprofits – to offer tutoring, food assistance, and other essential services to local kids and families most in need. We created the coalition to end hunger in Lakewood because no one should be hungry in a great city like ours. We created a thriving and award-winning Arts district, bringing the community together to help re-energize West Colfax. We came together to make investments in our future – adding police, strengthening infrastructure and acquiring the most open space in recent history.
Today, we are working to make Lakewood a leader in sustainability. This year, we are a finalist for the Engaged Cities Award. Pretty cool stuff, however, our work is not done. We must continue to move Lakewood forward, continue to care for one another and continue to be Lakewood proud. Let’s turn the ugliness to beauty – and make life better for each other.
I currently chair the Metro Mayors Caucus, whose membership is made up of the 40 mayors in the metro area. We are focused on working collaboratively on issues related to transportation, affordable housing, and homelessness. Lakewood was a founding member of the caucus and a leader in the region because of our forward-thinking and willingness to address challenging issues.
Lakewood is my family, my home, my purpose. It is an honor to be your mayor.
Public safety must remain a top priority, we must continue to give our police the tools, training, and personnel they need to keep us safe. We must find unique ways to address traffic and infrastructure challenges and work together to create and implement policies that balance growth, respecting the will of our voters and honoring our unique neighborhoods. Over the past four years, I have led the greatest expansion of land preservation in recent history, let’s continue to find new parkland and open space opportunities. I was proud to support the city’s first-ever sustainability plan. Now it’s time to implement that plan, and continue our national leadership on these issues. We also need to address homelessness. The city can’t solve this alone, we must continue to work with our faith partners, non-profits, county and other cities to create partnerships that can make meaningful changes.
One of the foundational rights we have as citizens is to petition the government. Residents had varying opinions on Question 200 and had strong feelings on both sides, creating a robust dialogue that ended with its passage in July. Everybody agreed that growth in Lakewood was an issue that had to be tackled, the disagreement was over what the best way to handle it was. Question 200 is now the law and we will do everything we can to implement it, true to the voter's intent. There are some neighborhoods that very much would like to see additional development. For example, the Two Creeks neighborhood in Ward 2 has been waiting a long time for the revitalization of West Colfax. Others areas however do not want to see growth and we have to respect that. We are going to implement Question 200 to its fullest, and find ways to continue to help neighborhoods that want to see growth grow, while protecting the ones that don’t.
What makes a city great? What is the foundation of a great city? Cities are not just the pipes, or its power lines, nor is a city only built upon the structures of its government. No, the foundation of a city is its people. The people make Lakewood great!
It’s the people that enable these structures to exist and flourish. It's people caring for one another and coming together to support each other and help each other thrive that make a city great. Lakewood picked me up when I was struggling and shaped me to be the person I am today. Lakewood is truly a friendly, welcoming, and caring city that has taught me how powerful community really can be. That is what makes Lakewood a great place to live.
Our current Comprehensive Plan is a community-driven initiative that lays out what we want Lakewood to look like in the future. It's critical to plan for the future and there are a few things we need to look at and ensure we are addressing. We need to look at an aging population, and make sure people are able to age in place affordably and that our services are age friendly. We need to think about what we want our transportation to look like in the future. We have to consider how best we can support our brick-and-mortar local businesses with online shopping continuing to gain popularity as this will directly affect our sales tax. Sustainability of course has to be an integral part of any planning for the future; we must ensure our neighborhoods remain healthy. We are going to continue to face a number of challenges as we move forward into the future, but when we come together as a community there is no challenge we cannot overcome.
All year, we have been celebrating Lakewood’s 50th anniversary. We live in a special place – one that combines a rich history and strong foundation with a bright future. We must be inspired by both the past, and the future: When I think of what Lakewood can become, I think of an innovative, compassionate, and inclusive city where everyone has an opportunity to realize their dreams and live the life they choose. The good news is that every day, I see aspects of this vision coming to life in our city. If we keep coming together and celebrating our differences, rather than letting them divide us, I have no doubt we can achieve our shared dreams – aided by a responsive, nimble government that provides the amenities, services, and economic opportunities that we deserve and pay for.