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When Bruce Beckman stepped down as mayor on Nov. 21, it marked the end of a long and storied career of service to Littleton. Beckman, an Army veteran, served on Littleton’s police force for decades, retiring as a division chief in 2010, was first elected to City Council in 2011 and was re-elected in 2013. He served as mayor since 2015. Beckman’s wife Susan represents Colorado’s 38th District in the state House of Representatives.
What do you feel you accomplished?
I’ve been part of a council that has dealt with the significant challenges of emerging from the recession to the rebuilding that occurs afterward. The city had to delay maintenance to get through that period of limited revenue, and now we’re in a period of recovery from that where the cost of services are increasing. In the midst of that challenge, we have a city that’s a number one choice for people to live in.
We have a place for people to live, work, retire and raise kids. We have tremendous partnerships with the schools and parks, and the other special districts. We have first-class resources in the River Corridor and Highline Canal. We have top trails. After the challenges of the last six years, we’ve been able to come out on top. I’m so proud to have been part of that.
My wife and I have a cumulative 22 years of elected service to the community between us. We can look back on the challenges and choices and tipping points, and we know we can be proud of what we were part of.
People know who we are, and that we’ve tried to be fair and committed and willing to listen. We go very few places where people don’t know us.
What was challenging or surprising?
The growth in Colorado, for better or for worse. Over the past 10 years we’ve had something like a million people come to Colorado. It brought tremendous pressure to build apartments, and we’re a community that has been very strongly balanced with apartments. We have many starter homes and rentals, and a diversity of housing from top to bottom.
I was surprised by the pressure from traffic. We were built to be the last stop going south, and now it’s pass-through for tens of thousands of cars. I’ve been surprised and challenged by how we’ve weathered it.
I have to comment on the change in the social character of Colorado. The tremendous number of homeless people who have materialized here. The impacts of having a totally open drug culture in Colorado have not been to our benefit. We didn’t see this coming six years ago.
Do you have any regrets or anything left unfinished?
When you’re in public service, there are always projects on the drawing board, coming to completion, halfway through, or just great ideas. You leave in the midpoint of that process. That’s part of leaving a dynamic operation like Littleton city government.
I’m very pleased with the things we completed, because it’s showed up in how many people think of us at the top of their list of places to live.
I’d certainly like to be part of the projects on the drawing board today, but I recognize that when you leave, you leave. Littleton is a dynamic community and there are things occurring every single day. You have to leave them at some point in their progression.
Why not run again?
When I left service in the city, I felt I had a lot of knowledge about the community, and particularly about the neighborhoods. The one quality that I did not see in any other councilmember was a real understanding of what’s important to the neighborhoods. That had been where my focus was for many years. I brought that to council many times.
I brought an understanding of the challenges of an operational budget.
I accomplished my goal. I brought that awareness of neighborhoods, and understanding that what it takes to run the city is very complicated.
At some point, you should move on to the next level and do something different. I was comfortable with six years. It was a sweet spot for me. It was time to give others a chance to run the city.
I don’t know, truly. When you’re involved in service to a community, the commitment can be almost overwhelming. There’s more to do than any one person could do. You have to prioritize, but you want to do a lot. You step up to the plate.
There were times I had to tell people no, because of scheduling or commitments. I’ve had to say no to things I wanted to do.
I’m incredibly proud to have been part of this city. It’s very rewarding to do service. I worry whether that’s a value that’s not as prominent in social values now as it has been. I’ve had tremendous opportunities, seen wonderful things, I’ve had a great life, and it’s all been based on service. To not think of that is missing something valuable.
My wife and I have been all about service. We raised great kids, lived in a great community, had success, and didn’t do it in business. We did it strictly from a service orientation, and I hope other people consider that.
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