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Erie Elections Q&A: Robb James, trustee candidate


Name: Robb James

Relevant leadership or community experience:

Active with HOA, Erie Economic Development Councils and I Chair the town’s AWG working group. In addition, I am a member of the Optimist Club of Erie. My wife and I have always been involved with community events and charity when possible.

What are the three top issues for Erie in the coming years? What will be your plan for fixing/solving/dealing with those issues?

My top three issues for Erie, CO are:

Creating economic development and sustainable revenue for our town.

Creating an open, honest, responsive and efficient government that keeps it promises.

Creative a service-oriented government who listens to its people.

All three of these items can be accomplished through leadership in asking people to refocus while making sure staff understands they work for the board and the board works for the people.

What does future successful economic development look like in Erie? What is the board’s role in making that happen?

The board can be very instrumental in be successful at economic development. The board needs to build trust and respect with the current businesses first but then the board can attract new business as well. Being responsive will go along way with creating a reputation for being business friendly and helpful. The board can also pull together its most talented representatives to meet and greet to show the incredible amenities and assets that Erie has. In addition, Erie’s proximity to DIA, Denver, Boulder, Broomfield, Longmont and Ft. Collins is unsurpassed putting Erie, CO right in the middle of the action. The board can help leverage the incredible advantages that Erie, CO has.

What role should the town take in supporting and attracting
business downtown? Do you believe the board should do more to support the business of Old Town area? If so, what?

Old Town should be a focus and number one priority. First we must help our own and we must keep our promises. We have the ability to leverage our history and arts to help revitalize Old Town. We should go after federal grants to help with redevelopment. I envision a day when Old Town Erie has new sidewalks full of people, new street lights and lights strung across the street much like Larimer Street in downtown Denver, CO. I think it would also be great to have a small train to give small children rides. We could paint the side of this train with “Erie Coal Train 1871” to play up our history. I see many more restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops and shops. It might sounds like a dream but I know it is within our grasp.

What actions —if any—should the board take to make the town a
stronger regional player?

Erie is in the middle of DIA, Denver, Boulder, Broomfield, Longmont and Ft. Collins. In addition, we have incredible views, great schools and talented people. We are already in the middle of the action and can automatically be a strong regional player if we are responsible and if we create a reputation for being business friendly and helpful. We need to take care of our own and other national prospects will come naturally.

As far as the airport is concerned, what is your stance how the board has handled the recent situation? What are future steps the board should take?

Past boards have not maximized the value of the airport. They have seen the glass as half empty instead of seeing that they are are already reaping great rewards and returns form the airport that will only grow. The airport already has 20+ businesses and visitors that are creating $12.5M in economic activity for the local community and it is capable of producing more. It is unfortunate that past boards have summed up the airport as being the air park when the air park has 130 homes and only about 10% of those homes have airplanes whose payments are less than a Honda Civic. 90% of the air park people do not mind the airport next door but they invested more for the views and beauty of Erie. The airport is made up of 20+ businesses who cater to people from all over the world. There is an economic study underway but I believe it will show that the airport is the second largest employment base in Erie next to the town so it is unfortunate that some see the airport as a private airplane club when 90% of the air park homes have nothing to do with airplanes.

What is Erie’s biggest transportation need in the coming years?

As many know, Erie has great trails and Erie has been informed and awarded of a future light-rail station and bus station. This is welcome news and will help Erie’s future. The has come about by having a person dedicated to be present for the DRCOG (Denver Regional Council of Governments). As a Trustee, I would recommend maintaining this presence with DRCOG. This is mostly formula monies based upon size and population, etc. but it is important to stay engaged and present. Being that we are in economic challenging times with stimulus money and fund-able shovel ready projects possibilities, we must maintain our presence and engagement to convince the power to be that Erie is a great place to invest. In addition, I see a great opportunity in helping the Senior Center with getting a new shuttle that is easier board and that can travel in snow. I think we might be able to use this bus for economic development as well when it is not being used at the senior center.

Give me your philosophy on growth in Erie? In your vision, what
does future growth look like and how is it managed?

I am still learning in this regard. I know that we have 48 square miles of Erie and there is plenty of room to grow while maintaining open space but there is no doubt that growth must be measured to maintain our quality and character.

What action—if any—would you like to see the town take on waste collection or recycling?

So far, from what I know, I am for letting the free markets work. I personally have Waste Connections with the 96-gallon recycling bin. My neighbor uses Deluxe because he takes pride in using an Erie based company which makes sense. I think HOA’s can negotiate a deal with somebody and can offer that deal to their HOA members if they choose. I am open minded to learning more if there is an advantage to another method but from what I have seen thus far, free markets probably yield the best deal for our citizens.

What’s your stance on the Bonanza Drive connection?
I believe Bonanza should go through if the numbers, benefit and return on investment make sense for all of the citizens of Erie but thus far we have no information to support it. As of now, I will vote no on 2E because I believe in fiscal responsibility. This project could easily blow through $1.5M-$3M of the town’s rainy day savings funds with the hope of being reimbursed if and when development might happen. I am personally for Bonanza if the numbers show a benefit and return on investment for our town. At this point, we do not have a design or cost estimates that could run into the millions. We also do not have a Safeway or Vitamin Cottage or anything else yet. I will personally vote NO on 2E but once we have the cost and design and understand the benefits and return on investment then I would vote to put the issue on the next ballot to approve. Anybody who says the Bonanza project is paid for fully by developer commitments is either uninformed or is spinning citizens. In the current economic climate, there is no guarantee that the developer who might help pay for the project will be able to proceed. In addition, the annexation agreement says that the developer is to pay for the connection but does this include the road improvements that were promised for children’s safety or does it include home or front yard purchases necessary to make the road functional(no it does not). We will have all of these answers soon and we need these answers. Being that I am for fiscal responsibility, I cannot vote to write a blank check out of our town’s savings account with the hope that we might get some of it back someday. There are also moral issues and property rights issue on this so I would tend to move slower rather than faster but if the road connection is best for the town then I would find a solution to make it work for all parties involved.

Once you are elected, how will you stay in tune with the ideas,
issues, concerns and questions of your constituents?

I will always maintain an open door and an open mind on issues. I will always allow public comment until some of our former leaders. It is always best to allow more public comment than too less. It is best to have fewer executive sessions not more and we must get our board packets a week in advance so that the board has time to read and understand and share the details with their neighbors and constituents. I will also maintain a website with all the latest technologies, including a blog where I will post all the pro’s and con’s of issues. If somebody writes to my blog, I will post their comments even if it is the opposite of the way I am currently leaning. I also love Joe Wilson’s idea of an E-Trustee program where there are representatives from each subdivision and perhaps from each school and economic development council who are an extension of the board so that they can stay in tune with issues and who can give input to the process.

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email no info send march17th/09

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