The economy has put tremendous pressure on Northwest Denver’s character and infrastructure these last 4 years. The people have found my opponent non-responsive and incapable of dealing with these comprehensive challenges effectively. I have a 16-year history of providing community-centric solutions in my North Denver neighborhood, so stakeholders asked me to serve as North Denver’s City Councilperson because of my problem solving skills, professional competency, and record of commitment to the people of Northwest Denver.
What is the biggest challenge affecting your district, and what would you do as a council member to help resolve it?
The biggest challenge is destabilizing development that threatens the opportunity and character that make Northwest Denver so desirable to the people that continue to make it home. I would use the office of City Council to shape development, manage growth through place-making, direct more resources into local infrastructure solutions, and proactively work with DPS to capitalize on opportunities to deliver neighborhood-based education in Northwest Denver.
Briefly describe two other issues in your district that you would work on as a council member.
Parking and traffic, like many of the issues facing the district, these too, are development related. The zoning code is developer-friendly regarding open space and parking requirements, both result in increased density, less off-street parking and more cars on the road. The zoning code largely overlooks the existing fabric and infrastructure. Deference to the existing fabric must be codified to some degree to maintain the quality of life that has served Northwest Denver communities for over 100-years; empirically our area has proven to be sustainable model.
As its population grows, Denver must deal with increased traffic congestion and scarcer parking. How would you approach challenges associated with new development?
My approach would be to raise traffic and parking issues every time the intensity of use goes up on sizable projects. I’d establish specific criteria for parking and traffic studies that go beyond the normally abbreviated areas. Often, known failing intersections are omitted from traffic studies to avoid shedding light on a problem, I understand these issues enough to know what to question.
Denver's policies to address homelessness have focused on two approaches: expanding support services, on the one hand, and passing restrictions or bans on panhandling and camping in public spaces. How should Denver address the issue in the future?
The money spent and the measures taken haven’t solved the problem. Rather than perpetually kicking the can down the road, I would advance a package of solutions to address the panoply of reasons behind the homeless issue to improve outcomes for the homeless and improve quality of life in Denver. These concepts will be developed to be revenue neutral and will take more than passionate pleas when voting in the minority, but rather creativity, political will, and diplomacy in garnering support city-wide, and on Council, to see them to fruition.
Do you support the city's use, and possible expansion, of red-light cameras and photo speeding enforcement?
I do not support photo speed enforcement, but I partially support red-light cameras. Considering the potential consequences of running red lights, and the general regularity with which it is done, enforcing the running of red lights is a worthwhile endeavor. The fines should begin low, then structured and weighted towards penalizing habitual offenders. However, I do not support stop-line enforcement utilizing red-light cameras except in school zones, during times of speed restrictions.
If elected, would you accept or return raises that will increase council members' salaries to $87,623 in July and to $91,915 a year later, a total 10.3 percent increase?
I will put that money towards increasing my accessibility and presence in the community to invite more contact with constituents. I’d rather dictate the utilization of those funds then put back into the Mayor’s hands. That said, I don’t agree that City Council deserved an increase given the cost overruns, financial settlements, and general failure to place constituents over special interests in district and citywide matters. Job performance matters.
Do you think the police reforms that Chief Robert White has implemented have worked, or is there more to be done?
As a civilian with only tangential access to the decisions of Chief White, and not the oversight responsibilities of sitting City Council members, it stands to reason that there are likely organizational issues that warranted some radical restructuring. It’s always a challenge to get a group to look objectively at itself to find and mitigate weaknesses and grow. The attempt is commendable, but it’s clear that there is a residual morale problem. Chief White’s stated goal is “Crime Prevention” and while I can acknowledge that has occurred generally, the 2015 uptick in gang presence, violence, and murders are evidence that there is more to be done.
Denver's new downtown jail has faced enormous challenges, including cases of inmate abuse. What role should the council play in fixing problems in jail management?
City Council has oversight responsibility on the jail. The fact that a former City Councilman, now Mayor was seen praising the Triple Crown Accreditation of the jail while legal challenges mounted is bewildering. The City Council should develop a civilian component, purely advisory, to provide perspective to the Independent Monitor in determining recourse.
Do you support the city's plan to pay for the bulk of the National Western Center plan by extending lodging and car rental taxes? If not, what other options should the city pursue?
If I supported the plan, then conceptually yes, I’d consider the lodging and car rentals tax as a potential revenue source, however until I see the details of the plan, know the fate of those communities relative to the unsettled I-70 proposals and vet the cost estimating analysis that is the basis for the $850 billion price tag, I am not on board with payment plans.
What do you see as Mayor Michael Hancock's greatest strength and greatest weakness?
His greatest strength publicly is his charisma, and politically, the stranglehold on appointees in a strong mayor-council government such as ours.
Should Denver's civil service employees be granted collective bargaining rights, or do you support the city's current employment system?
People should have the freedom to organize and chose to collectively bargain, including civil service employees, what matters are the results of the agreements. I think there are a lot of positions that are better compensated than similar private sector jobs, with more worker protections in place, but I recognize that someone in a civil servant position may not share that sentiment, and they should be able to negotiate as they desire.
Are Denver's regulations on sales of recreational marijuana working? If not, what actions by the city would you support?
The sales portion is clearly working, however, there are still a lot of growing pains that must be addressed. The fact that a moratorium is in place until January is helpful for the time being, but I intend to use the time from election to the end of the year to work with stakeholders and hammer out a viable way forward from design, placement, and density of businesses, to labeling, banking, and training. There is room for improvement on all fronts.
Should Denver allow public consumption of marijuana, either fully or with restrictions?
It’s already occurring, and it would be difficult to police some inconspicuous consumption techniques. Therefor I’d be in favor of restricting conspicuous consumption techniques (essentially those that produce second hand smoke) however we should consider allowing the restricted techniques in regulated private establishments.
Should Denver ban tobacco smoking outdoors along the 16th Street Mall or in city parks?
I wish cigarette smokers had the common decency to just throw the butts in the trash and not on the ground. If you can go out in any weather to get a hit of nicotine, you should be able to put the remnants in a trash can. Please, just pick up after yourselves.
When it comes to the city's budget, how would you change current spending priorities for city services?
I would prioritize neighborhood infrastructure over grandiose projects. Nothing we have done is on par with the Eiffel Tower or even Bilbao, stop chasing that dream, our location and weather are awesome enough. Let’s get the little things right, sidewalks, schools, frequent bus circulators, parks, durability, affordability, sustainability, bikes, after school art and technology opportunities, mental health and homelessness. If we lead in these areas, we will be even more memorable as a city, and an even greater place to live.