Familiar faces embrace new roles

Brinkman, Stahlman assume leadership posts on a council with two newcomers

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New Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman will lead a revamped city council that she hopes will keep one eye always toward the horizon.

“I think it’s important for Littleton to look ahead and look a little bit more into the future and what it is we need to start doing now to prepare for that,” Brinkman said. “It’s what you do now that has the greatest impact on the future.”

Brinkman edged Phil Cernanec by a 4-3 vote to become the mayor of Littleton during the Nov. 15 council meeting. The meeting was the last for Jose Trujillo and outgoing Mayor Doug Clark, and the first for newly elected Bruce Beckman and Jerry Valdes.

Though she was generally regarded as the favorite for the position, Brinkman had to sweat out a tight vote before finding out she was mayor.

“There was a sense of relief, because you never know what’s going to happen up there. And then I was just really happy,” Brinkman said.

Brinkman, who represents District 4, had served as mayor pro tem the past two years. She won her second four-year term Nov. 1 after running unopposed. She owns an interior design company, which she opened after a 24-year career in advertising and marketing. She’s a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado and moved to Littleton in 2002.

Brinkman, who previously sat immediately to Clark’s left, says she will bring her own distinct flavor to the role of mayor.

“I will be different. I think that every mayor brings part of their personality and part of their past, their experience and skill sets,” she said. “I lead by working to get people cooperatively working together. I’m not a herder, I don’t herd people. I lead best when I have a group of highly skilled professionals who really know what they’re doing, and I think we’ve got that on council.”

She will also have the support of the new mayor pro tem, Bruce Stahlman. Cernanec was again nominated, but Stahlman won the council’s second-highest position by a 5-2 vote.

Stahlman, a certified public accountant with more than 25 years of professional experience, was selected to fill an unexpected vacancy on council in 2007. He then won an official four-year term as an at-large representative in 2009.

Stahlman considers one of his major responsibilities as mayor pro tem to be supporting Brinkman while she gets up to speed.

“The main element of the job, in my opinion, is basically supporting her and sharing the load to whatever extent she sees fit to ask,” Stahlman said. “I also think it’s a real neat opportunity to help coach her to excel in her role as she gets up the learning curve and help her do the best job she can do to execute the responsibility of leading council.”

The council’s new leaders are excited to move forward and begin working with newcomers Beckman and Valdes. Beckman’s background as a police commander and Valdes’ business experience should be valuable additions, assuming the council, which also includes Cernanec, Peggy Cole and Jim Taylor, can work together.

“It’s a very experienced group of councilmembers, each of whom are bringing something a little bit different to the table. I think the group dynamics are going to be outstanding,” Stahlman said. “These are people who really already understand vast amounts of information regarding how the city operates.”