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Erie Elections


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Elections_06Tina-HarrisTina Harris 

At its heart, Erie wants to be a small town, says Mayor Tina Harris. New developments coming into the town should fit that vision, she says. But Erie is expanding fast, and town officials have pursued major retail projects in the community’s outlying areas that are bloating its borders.

Harris, 42, wants to remind her constituents that there are reasons for the town’s recent growth spurt.

“It’s not a fast rate, it’s an intentional rate,” Harris says. “We’re intentionally growing because we have water, rec center and police bonds that we need to pay off. The more citizens we have in town means less of a tax burden for current residents. It’s a very intentional march towards sustainable growth.”

Harris was elected two years ago, and after she runs unopposed in the April 5 municipal election she’ll start another two-year term. Her priorities for the next two years include continuing to hold residential developers to a high standard, generating more commercial revenue in town and develop a primary employment base, she says.

She remains the best person to lead Erie because she keeps her promises, Harris says. When she ran two years ago, she pledged to communicate with town residents, and she says she’s done that.

“I believe you have to engage with citizens in order to represent them,” Harris says. “Sometimes that means having tough conversations, but you have to be willing to engage in those.”

Three other town leadership roles – on the Board of Trustees – are up for grabs. Incumbent trustees Scott Charles and Dan Woog face competition from civically involved residents Mark Kadlecek and Geoff Deakin for the three spots on the five-member board.

All four candidates recently spoke with Yellow Scene to discuss hot topics such as growth, gas and green space.


Elections_DSC_5526Scott Charles

Technology consultant Scott Charles, 30, has lived in Erie for six years with his wife Holly and their two kids, daughter Brooklyn and son Bronx. Charles was elected to the Board of Trustees in April 2014.

YELLOW SCENE: Why are you running for the Board of Trustees again?

SCOTT CHARLES: We’ve made a lot of great strides in being a more cohesive, productive board, but we have more to do. We’ve set a lot of things in place that will bring retail and commercial growth, but there will be a lot more important decisions to keep momentum growing. I feel I’ve hit my stride. I understand the role and effect I can have and I’ve built some great relationships with residents, businesses and town staff. I have the ability to keep it moving forward.

YS: How has Erie changed since you’ve lived here?

SC: We’ve seen a lot more business growth that’s going to be coming our way. The community has become even stronger. There are different people here doing different things and the identity of the town has grown in positive way.

YS: What would you say makes up the identity of Erie?

SC: More and more people do different things and have different ideas here. We have different amenities and events. The town is building its own identity and separating itself from a lot of towns nearby. Up until 20 to 25 years ago people characterized Erie as one horse town, but it’s grown into a community. You know you’re in Erie now. We’re not Lafayette or Boulder or Firestone.

YS: What have been your most important decisions as a trustee?

SC: The biggest things are in relation to retail development. We’ve had a bunch of votes that have moved projects forward, specifically the development area at 287 and Arapahoe. Also, the King Soopers at Highway 7 and Sheridan was a big project we pushed forward.

YS: How do you balance the needs and the wants of the town?

SC: Town needs are things that allow the town to collect tax revenue. Retail developments take the burden off housing revenue, so I want to do my part to support retail growth. We also need to make sure that housing developers take care of infrastructure that we need to help our town prosper. The types of needs that are important are infrastructure and safety needs. We want to make sure we’re taking care of the nuts and bolts of the town so we can keep things up and running with retail development. That way, we have more to spend more on wants and amenities for the town.

YS: Why did vote in favor of the one-year fracking moratorium in December?

SC: I voted for the moratorium because I didn’t think we had a strong enough voice in maintaining health, safety and welfare of community. It didn’t go through, but we started to negotiate with oil and gas companies. We want to continue listening to concerns of residents to address them the best way we can. But the town has extreme limitations with regard to what it can control with oil and gas development. We have to continue working on that here and at the state level, where lots of change needs to happen.

YS: What would you say to people who say Erie is expanding too quickly? How do you keep the town moving forward while preserving its integrity?

SC: I haven’t heard people say things are moving too fast. I hear that people are looking for more places to eat and spend money in town. It’s important to hold development to the highest standard we can. We’re going to continue to see growth, but we need to monitor it and hold it to a high standard. We want to maintain open space in the town. People are concerned with losing open park space to residential development. It’s the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to purchase open space when possible if the price is right. I view that as a need.

YS: What makes you the best candidate?

SC: The experiences I’ve had have really shaped who I am on the Board of Trustees. I’m someone on the board who anyone can talk to about any issue. I’m not set in my ways and I’m willing to listen to facts and opinions to formulate best decision. I’m never 100 percent decided on anything going into a vote until I hear everything I can. I’m thoughtful and open minded. I look forward to the opportunity to represent the residents of Erie for four more years. I look forward to working with whoever is elected. We have great things going for us as a town and great things in the future. We have some obstacles but future is really bright. I look forward to being a part of it if the people elect me.

 


Elections_Geoff-Deakin-headGeoff Deakin

Geoff Deakin, 42, has 15 years of experience as a marketer in the Boulder County area. He currently works for Superior-based video marketing firm Envysion. Originally from Montreal, Deakin moved to Erie in 2002 with his wife, a Colorado native.

Yellow Scene: Why did you decide to run for the Board of Trustees?

Geoff Deakin: I’ve been very interested and involved in local politics for a long time. I was involved with bringing backyard chickens to Erie and I was really proud to spearhead that. I got involved with attending meetings and seeing what’s going on in town. Having lived in town for so long, my biggest concern is development. We’re a huge town that’s getting bigger. We need growth to expand the tax base. We need interest for commercial to bring businesses in. But having been through the recession in 2008, the town staff has overcorrected. They’ve tried too hard and given too much in the process of trying to attract development. We allow housing developers to build out roads in phases and we wind up with perpetual road work over five years as they go thru phases of their development. We keep building, which is great, but the precedent is that we will allow every developer to get every dollar back as quick as possible. They should be sharing the burden as we grow together.

YS: You’re basing your platform on “smart growth.” How would you balance growth and protect integrity of the town? Is Erie growing too fast?

GD: We need to hold town staffers accountable and open communication channels. What we need as a town is an overall plan. We have lots of parks but they’re not connected to each other. We need work toward master plan that takes into account all variances and how they will affect residents. The public’s opportunity to participate is limited. We need to slow things down and let the public see process and we’ll get better feedback. We need to make everyone an equal partner in development.

YS: The outlying areas of Erie have seen increased development, but why is it important to you to continue developing Old Town?

GD: I love the idea that we now have this town nexus on Briggs Street. Success breeds success there. We need to look at where we can go with Old Town to shape its history and character. If we concentrate on developing everywhere, we’ll be marginally successful everywhere. But if we market success in specific zones we stand a better chance of building small businesses to be successful.

YS: How should the town deal with continued oil and gas development?

GD: Developers are all doing the best thing to get best investment for their business. But they have to be our partners here. They’re impacting the quality of life. There have definitely been improvements in oil and gas regulations, but we have to make sure the town is first and foremost looking after the people.

YS: How would you keep housing developers responsible?

GD: We negotiate with developers from a position of weakness, not strength. We go into the conversation trying to guess what they want. We give them more than they ask for. We don’t have to say yes to every request they have. When we give a little more to keep developers happy, that makes residents feel less appreciated than big money interests in town.

YS: What do you think the biggest issues and decisions for you will be if you are elected?

GD: The oil and gas conversation will continue to be the biggest until changes are made at the state level. Another one is growth, growth, growth. That gets confused with more houses. We need population and we’re going to get it, but it’s less about the number of developments and more about the character of those developments. We need a primary employer and we need to build up conversation for businesses to grow. We can build up opportunities for successful small businesses. If we keep people spending money in town, that’s going to build success.

YS: What makes you the best candidate?

GD: I’m a reasonable person. I try to address every problem to see how to make it a balanced, win-win situation. My approach is to come in with acceptance of the concerns on both sides and a possible solution. I think if you come to conversation with potential solution you’re much closer to an acceptable outcome.

 


Elections_MarkMark Kadlecek

Support engineer Mark Kadlecek, 42, has lived in Erie for eight years, along with his wife and three children. A resident of Vista Ridge, Kadlecek collaborated with his neighbors to bring a nearby noisy Encana oil well site to light.

YELLOW SCENE: What made you decide to run for the Board of Trustees?

MARK KADLECEK: Over the past one-and-a-half years I’ve been getting involved with activities in town, primarily things impacting me and my neighbors in Vista Ridge. I pooled together several hundred residents to bring to light the oil and gas developments right up against our neighborhood. After watching how the current board handled that I felt we needed a change in leadership. I think I’d be welcome face that will get things going.

YS: How should the town handle oil and gas developments?

MK: There has to be balance. Everyone uses oil and gas in some form. There should be big enough setbacks with wells and they shouldn’t impact current and future residents. If residents got what they wanted there wouldn’t be any additional drilling within residential areas.

YS: How long have you lived in Erie and how has it changed?

MK: I’ve been in Erie for just over 8 years. There have been a lot more housing developments making the town grow considerably. When we moved in there wasn’t much retail. But now there’s some creeping into town and the population is starting to grow rapidly.

YS: How should the town monitor residential development?

MK: If we don’t also get retail in town, the residential developments aren’t going to be sufficient sources of revenue to maintain the town. In most towns the sales tax is what supplements the police force. But if you’re not getting sales tax, you might not be able to grow the police force to handle the population growth. If the town grows too fast it loses that small town feel. We need to control growth to keep that small town feel.

YS: What are your feelings on retail development and growth? Is Erie growing too quickly?

MK: Erie is one of the last regions that’s close to being contiguous in the Denver metro area. I remember seeing an article in newspaper about Collier’s Hill and I couldn’t believe how monstrous it is. It’s going to be bigger than Vista Ridge. We won’t know the truth of how that decision pans out until it’s done. I think that it may be too big of a hit on the town eventually to build things like infrastructure there. Even though we have all the core assets to support growth, we don’t need to build the town out that large.

YS: Are there specific projects you have your sights set on?

MK: I want to promote renewable resources. We should utilize solar energy and invest in wind developments. We should start cutting down on pollution. Other towns have reduced the number of restaurant drive-thrus so there aren’t idling cars. I want to build town and have it as sustainable as possible.

YS: What makes you the best candidate?

MK: I keep an open ear to discussion. I want to hear everything and see the facts. I’m able to take those and make conclusions rather than bringing in feelings to make a decision.

 

Elections_IMG_2980Dan Woog

Dan Woog, 37, has lived in Erie since 2008 and previously served on the town’s planning and zoning commissions. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees in October 2013 after one trustee stepped down. Woog runs a real estate firm in downtown Erie with his wife, Rianne.

YELLOW SCENE: How has Erie changed since you have lived here?

DAN WOOG: Since I’ve been on board some retail has come through. The King Soopers will be a huge boon to the economy for tax revenue. In the last two years we’ve acquired 134 acres of open space. The current board has been thoughtful. Residential development has continued because we need population to support retail. We’ve had lots of local businesses move into town. There has been a good steady flow of businesses and residents. They see that the future is bright. It’s continued to grow and help economy.

YS: Why did you decide to run again for the Board of Trustees?

DW: It took me a while to make that decision. I talked to people who want me to run again, and that’s main reason. Another reason is I want to continue with where we’re going. We have debt in this town but we’re in a good position to continue paying that down. I’d like to be on board to continue that.

YS: What have been the most important decisions you’ve made as a trustee?

DW: The number one decision was pushing town staff to stay aggressive and negotiate with King Soopers. We’ve had good balance. The board hasn’t really approved every residential development. We discovered it’s not growth at all costs — we want to bring in things people want and we can be proud of. That balance we created is what we’re most proud of.

YS: What’s best for the development of land in Erie? Is it growing too quickly? How do you continue developing and growing the town while preserving its integrity?

DW: We need to continue to get that residential development when the economy supports it, but there needs to be balance. One thing we’re considering is raising impact fees. That hasn’t been done in over a decade. That might slow growth down, but that’s the balance we need to choose between. If we can do something that will help the town down the road and it slows growth a little, that might be okay. We don’t want to stunt growth where it slows to a crawl — we need to keep it steady.

YS: You voted to strike down the one-year fracking moratorium. Why?

DW: You have to have a strong reason for a moratorium or there will be a good chance for litigation. We’re limited with what we can do — that’s just the reality. If we’re going to get sued, a moratorium isn’t worth it. The majority of Erie residents, including me, would prefer if drilling was done further away from neighborhoods. But this is something we have to work with. We know fracking is here in Erie. It’s better to work with these companies and get the best contract possible that’s as strong as it can be for our residents. There’s got to be some consensus on what happens. Landowners and companies have rights, too. We can only do so much and we need to work together and go from there.

YS: How do you make sure parks and open space are priorities for developers, too?

DW: We need to talk to developers and assure them that we’re moving toward developing more parks. And we need to make sure those parks and developments are coming to fruition. We also need to think about creating a revenue source to pay for maintenance of parks, like a regional sports complex. People would come here from outside Erie and pay to use that facility. Town staff has worked at making a huge variety with the parks we have, but we want to make sure those don’t get run down. That’s part of Erie’s appeal.

YS: How do you plan to bring a big, primary employer to Erie?

DW: When I ran two years ago, one of my goals was to push development at Interstate 25 and Erie Parkway. We need to get sewer and infrastructure to that area. Developers know about that area, but until we get utilities there it’s not something they will be aggressive about. Development there is naturally going to happen. So we have to decide if we want to promote that sooner or just let it take its course. If it’s something we wait on and it comes in ten years instead of five, that’s okay.

YS: What projects do you want to keep working on if you are elected again?

DW: I want to push toward development at I-25 and Erie Parkway. Something big that’s going to bring in a lot of employees will help with retail. I’d like to pursue some type of regional park with different amenities that will help support park maintenance. We need to keep that focus and bring in revenue.

YS: What makes you the best candidate?

DW: My experience is helpful. It takes a year to get your feet wet when you get on the board. I’m a businessperson. Dealing with working in the private sector is helpful. Working with all those things gives me a different perspective than other people running. Running a town is similar to running a business. We’re moving in the right direction. Overall the vast majority of people like what’s happening. I love it here, and the people I know with kids and families feel the same way. We’re excited for the future. Things have gone positively well.

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