The first financial reports in the race for Littleton City Council are in, and one of the biggest overall fundraisers doesn’t even have competition.
Randy Stein, running unopposed for the term-limited Jim Taylor’s District 1 seat, has raised $4,300. About half is from out of state — notably, developer Mark Kerslake’s $2,000.
Kerslake’s company, Province Group, owns the 18-acre plot across from McClellan Reservoir at the southeast corner of County Line Road and Erickson Boulevard. In March, Littleton City Council approved his plan to build a 385-unit apartment complex on the site. Province also owns the 12 acres across Erickson and intends to build retail there.
“I am getting acquainted with residents and employers in District 1, asking about their concerns and how city government may be more responsive to their needs,” said Stein. “I have been fortunate to receive many views and a few campaign contributions along the way. … Mr. Kerslake, like many others, believes that my development experience and perspective, as well as my dispute-resolution skills, will be very helpful to council’s decision-making process in the future.”
Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Stahlman is ahead in the at-large race with $5,782 coming from 52 individual contributions to his campaign. Much of his support comes from former local officials like Joe Rice, former Democratic state senator; Susan Thornton, former mayor; and Karla Langton, former director of communications for Littleton Public Schools.
“I’m very appreciative of the community’s generous support in a number of ways,” Stahlman said. “At-large campaigns inherently require a combination of money, messaging and sweat equity, which I’m sure all the candidates are providing in varying degrees. So to the extent I’ve raised a bit more money, it’s only one ingredient in the recipe.”
However, he gave himself $2,227 of that. Subtracting that takes him below challenger John Watson’s $4,670 from 31 individual donations, many of them active with him in the grassroots group Citizens for Rational Development. But $1,800 of it is from his brother, Michael Watson.
“He knows my lifetime support for business and free markets,” said John Watson of his brother’s support. “Our other supporters are learning the devotion I have to the city and to getting the job done. When my wife and I started this campaign, we had no idea of what was involved in terms of time and effort and the support we would need. We are humbled by the devotion and donations and work that supporters have given us. Their contributions will never be wasted and our commitments to serve them according to our beliefs will always be honored.”
Councilor Bruce Beckman rang in at $2,570 from 32 donors. He has a broad base of support, including fellow Councilor Jerry Valdes, CRD activist and former planning-board president Norm Brown, former Councilor Amy Conklin and Thornton.
“Thank you to the members of the community who are willing to help out my campaign financially,” said Beckman. “It is important for me to get my message out that I am the candidate who has lived, worked, raised a family and retired in Littleton and who cares about our economic future, the neighbors and the neighborhoods. Without the ability to use the tools of campaigning, paid for with donations, it is nearly impossible to get that word out.”
Latecomer James Dean reported just the $20 he gave himself.
“I understand I am a few weeks behind the other candidates because of some family issues and travel to Alaska and Idaho, but I am confident my campaign will show great progress in the next several weeks,” he said. “I have been canvassing neighborhoods and attended an urban development meeting, and I’ve been reviewing council meetings online to better understand what we as a city are up against and how best to approach this election. I am very concerned at what I see, and what the citizens, in many instances, are unknowingly facing. I am serious about my candidacy for Littleton City Council and only entered the race because I felt an obligation to help protect the values of family and community and to make Littleton a better, safer place to raise my children.”
Councilor Phil Cernanec is running unopposed to keep his District 3 seat, but still took in $465 above and beyond the $1,000 he gave himself.
“As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of pressure,” he said. He put in money to get some T-shirts and an ad in the Littleton Independent’s 125th commemorative edition, and took donations from close family and friends to help with that, he said.
Election Day is Nov. 5, but mail-in ballots start going out Oct. 15.
There are also two citizen initiatives to be decided, one dealing with open-meetings law and another seeking to change the rezoning process. Additionally, council placed measures on the ballot asking to tax lodging and retail marijuana, although it has yet to decide whether to allow sales of the latter. There is also an initiative that would allow the city to redraw council boundaries every 10 years rather than every four.
Littleton voters will also be choosing new Littleton Public Schools board members. Five people have officially declared bids for three seats: Dallas Jones, Kelly Perez, Robert Reichardt, Jack Reutzel and Carrie Warren-Gully. Finally, there is an $80 million bond issue on the ballot for capital improvements to LPS facilities.