The results of this year's Arvada, Colorado, city council elections could take our community a giant step backwards into the last century. At a time when we need 21st century ideas and innovative solutions to economic and environmental challenges, voters can decide to put new people and different perspectives on our council, or recreate a council that looks mostly like it did a decade or more ago.
It is possible that on November 4, we could find the council stocked with five out of seven members being the very same faces that were there in 1999 -- the return of three of who were term limited out or resigned (Bob Frie, Bob Dyer, Shelley Cook), one trying to stay by moving from a district to an at-large position (Don Allard) and one elected ten years ago (Mark Williams). Indeed, Bob Frie has stuck to the council almost continuously since the 1970s, only taking out time to satisfy term limit restrictions (and even then he got himself elected for a term on the Fire District Board!) Bob Dyer has the same story (including being on the Fire District Board), but started his tenure on the council in the early 90s. Shelley Cook was first elected in 1993 and resigned in 1999. Don Allard was an employee of Arvada as an assistant city manager, then upon retiring served on the council twelve years from District One.
We have some serious local government 'junkies' here in our fair city -- they have an addiction to the city council that they just cannot seem to do without. Consequently, after election day, Arvada could have a council that is more a retreat into the past than a harbinger of future progress.
Consider this when recognizing the biggest issue now confronting city government: the recession and declining revenues.
The councils of the 1990s never met a local or regional tax increase they did not support. Rachel Zenzinger, candidate in District One and favored by the entrenched city clique, was reported in the September 24 Arvada Press as responding to a question about what city funding areas should be cut that "the city could also look beyond cuts and find ways to increase revenues, consider service reductions or dip into reserves."
"Increase revenues" sounds like the tax raising councils of the past, not a very forward looking vision for Arvadans.
I would also warn voters to be wary of candidates like Shelley Cook who talk 'green' now, but have a 1990s council track record promoting unsustainable suburban sprawl. Or like Zenzinger who accepts the Jeffco Association of Realtors endorsement and also supports the very 'un-green', "unneighborly," billion dollar "public-private" tollway scheme.
It is time to give some other individuals who have different ideas and come from different political circles in Arvada an opportunity to serve.
In District One, where I live, I'm voting for Robert Wolf because he is a fresh face and will not be beholden to special interests. If I lived in District Three, I would vote for Mr. Fifer because it is time for a different point of view. For the at-large council position (two term incumbent Aaron Azari versus Allard), I'm not voting because sadly it doesn't make any difference who gets elected.
As a firm believer and advocate for popular democracy, I encourage Arvada voters to reject the candidates of an establishment, insider cadre that seems to think that they have a special kind of entitlement to positions on our city council. It is time for a change and a time to open up representation on our governing municipal board to other voices and differing opinions.
It is time to take our Arvada into the 21st century and say good-bye to the politicians of the past.
Here is an article written by Golden's mayor that explains quite clearly and succinctly why the tollway idea is a bad idea for our neighbor city and Arvada.
If this proposed tollway were built, who in Arvada District One would want to pay a toll to go the Flat Irons mall? Or to go visit friends in Golden? But it would either be pay the toll or join with the other thousands of motorists looking for alternative routes to avoid paying the toll. Far from easing traffic congestion for most of us, a tollway will make it worse.
And, by the way, I wonder why business merchants around 80th and Wadsworth (or merchants in Old Towne, for that matter) would want even more competition from the new commercial area planned at the intersection of SH72 and SH93 that the tollway is meant to serve?
Shouldn't Arvada concentrate on improving our current business climate and work on building a sustainable quality of life for those of us who live here now instead of encouraging another 20,000 commuters to sprawl up into Coal Creek Canyon?
The tollway plan is distinctly a 20th century notion that's primary purpose is to promote even more residential development south of Rocky Flats along State Highway 72. Consequently, not only is the tollway plan "unneighborly," but it is "un-green" in that it encourages more suburban sprawl, encourages even more reliance upon the individual automobile for transportation, and because of "no compete" clauses in the tollway arrangement means nearby streets and roads will go unimproved.
I hope as time goes by more and more Arvadans begin to understand that a tollway west of our city, owned in a "public-private partnership" is not in the best interests of the hundred thousand residents already here. I hope that a greater spirit of cooperation might be developed with the good people of Golden ... but that means electing new faces and fresher perspectives to the Arvada council.
The Latest Twists and Turns in the Beltway Saga
From: Golden Informer, Oct 2009
By Mayor Jacob Smith
After years of trying to build a high-speed superhighway through Golden, under new leadership the Colorado Department of Transportation last summer dropped the idea. This was good news, of course, but it hasn’t deterred the beltway boosters from pursuing their dream of a new toll highway slicing across our part of the Denver Metro region. Their latest proposal still stands to benefit a handful of developers in grand fashion while nearly everyone else takes a big hit.
Their current proposal is to contract with private investors, possibly through a foreign corporation, to build a new toll highway running between Highways 128 and 93 along the east and south sides of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Their plan has serious problems and impacts:• It calls for crippling the taxpayer-built Indiana St. in order to force cars onto their new toll highway and Highway 93, reducing speeds by almost half.
• By their own analysis, it will significantly increase congestion on many key roads all across Northwest Denver Metro, including 64th, Indiana south of the new toll highway, and Wadsworth.
• Most egregiously, their proposal will add another traffic light on Highway 93, dramatically increase traffic and congestion on Highway 93, and increase safety problems as well.
Instead of improving transportation, which should be the goal, this proposal makes congestion and safety problems worse. That’s not surprising, since the point of the project is really proposed new sprawl, their Denver Tech Center-style development on the southern boundary of the National Wildlife Refuge.
Because this new toll highway project will have significant impacts to Golden, including large increases in traffic through town, we’ll continue to fight to protect our community. At the same time, we have some very real challenges here in Golden and we are committed to fixing those problems. Golden lies in a narrow valley, and Highways 93 and 6 create significant noise and air quality issues as well as physically separate many of our neighborhoods from the main part of town. We will work with our neighbors to make appropriate improvements to Highways 6 and 93, both in Golden and north of town.
This won’t be easy. Funding any project in the current environment is a challenge. We’ll need to look at all of the options, including federal funding and options like a Regional Transportation Authority. In fact, we’ve already started, submitting a formal proposal for federal stimulus funds to rebuild our highest priority intersection at U.S. 6 and 19th Street. That project would lower the highway, add on- and off-ramps, and create a very safe, comfortable crossing on 19th for bikes and pedestrians. And we have already made substantial investments of city funds in noise berms and other noise mitigation to help those neighborhoods closest to the highway.
There is a lot of work to do, and it won’t be easy, but we are committed both to tackling our community’s transportation challenges and to fighting the projects that harm our community.
A shorter version of this commentary has also been posted on: YourHub.com