A City Divided
Short of building a wall between the south and north, the city of Thornton couldn’t have two more distinct communities forming. In the original section of the city, you find urban blight and aging homes. To the north, booming new suburbs. One thing you won’t find anywhere in Thornton, however, are living-wage jobs. With its proximity to Denver, Boulder, the airport and even Fort Collins, it shouldn’t be difficult to lure the best business and residential development in the North Metro area. But it’s not that easy and the city—which may soon be the state’s fourth largest—has an image problem to overcome.
Erik Hansen over Jeff Kraft, Marty Wisniewski, Richard Reeser and Rebecca Cavanaugh-Miller
If you ask city residents, Thornton officials are doing a fine job providing a quality place to live. In fact, in a recent survey, roughly 70 percent voiced approval with city officials. We get the feeling it won’t stay that way for long with the current level of bickering among elected officials. A strong, even-handed voice is needed to oversee council, and frankly, despite this being a crowded five-person race, it really comes down to two (with apologies to Marty Wisniewski who’s served as mayor since January). Both are current council members, and Erik Hansen gets our approval over Rebecca Cavanaugh-Miller. Hansen won’t leave well enough alone. He doesn’t think increased code enforcement is the way to fix the aging neighborhoods in the southern part of the city—it may be a part, but a small part at that. Hansen is aggressive, cocky perhaps, and has set some lofty goals. He’d like to turn 88th Avenue into a marquee boulevard, using FasTracks service as the vehicle for change. Think trolleys leaving a new station at Welby, heading west to a redeveloped Washington Avenue corridor. He’ll aggressively market the city, especially areas such as East Lake, the only real downtown Thornton offers. His unique solutions such as providing citywide wireless service could help bring more jobs. Hansen is bold, loud and committed to do what’s necessary to achieve the tough goals he has set out.
Jon Heikka over Steve Lebsock and Gabe McBride
It’s always tough to knock off an incumbent in these odd-year elections. And Steve Lebsock talks a good game and has plenty to back it up. But Ward I of Thornton is increasingly becoming the eye sore of the city (it doesn’t even have its own grocery store, save for a new Hispanic market that recently opened) and a new voice is needed. Enter long shot Jon Heikka, the chief of police for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He’ll take a no nonsense approach to luring more unique businesses to the oldest part of the city and look to streamline the development approval process so would-be investors won’t be scared away. The next four years are crucial as serious Original Thornton revitalization plans need to be laid out to take full advantage when FasTracks trains start cutting through the city in 2014.
Eva Henry over Ron Kuehn
Ron Kuehn was the only candidate to turn down the endorsement interview with The Yellow Scene. While that in itself isn’t a deadly sin, it is indicative of the tired political attitude in the southern part of the city. Eva Henry deserves your vote over the incumbent—she has been so fed up with the city that she started running for office in January, an unusually early beginning. She wants to increase city/school partnerships, bring living-wage paying jobs to Thornton, work with FasTracks to make sure the city gets what it needs out of the massive transportation project and close the gap between the south and north. She’s raised a ton of money, has support from the state legislature and the man who could be the area’s next U.S. Congressman, Jared Polis. It’s all for good reason.
Randal Smith over Beth Humenik
Randal Smith gets the edge in this race between two candidates who are trying to rebound from previous losses on Election Day in Thornton. Smith, who works construction by day, emphasizes the need for prioritizing new fire stations in the city’s northern wards (III & IV), something that has lost out on funding in the last few years. He says the northern part of the city is already falling behind the curve in providing emergency and other vital services, something that could spiral out of control as development continues at a furious pace. He also wants to make sure that Thornton stops luring only big boxes and makes a hard push to land unique businesses that will pull people from other markets. He understands that he needs to represent more than just Ward III interests by helping the city’s struggling southern section.
Sheila Powell over Kim Jetton, David Pettit and Eric Tade
If you live in Ward IV, you likely have a combined household income nearing six figures, live in a nice home and drive a relatively expensive car. Yup, north Thornton is a whole lot nicer than south Thornton. That is not lost on Sheila Powell, who has ideas that will help her tony ward and bridge the gap to the poorer, Original Thornton. She will prioritize funding for a fire station in her ward, use partnerships and incentives to lure good business into both southern and northern segments of the city, and market the city tirelessly to potential job centers.?