City council gearing up for change this fall

Two Littleton officials have eyes on re-election; two others term-limited

Posted 5/6/19

Four seats are up for grabs on Littleton’s seven-member city council this November, and two councilmembers already know they’ll be asking to keep their positions. It’s still six months until …

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City council gearing up for change this fall

Two Littleton officials have eyes on re-election; two others term-limited

Posted

Four seats are up for grabs on Littleton’s seven-member city council this November, and two councilmembers already know they’ll be asking to keep their positions.

It’s still six months until Election Day, but councilmember Kyle Schlachter filed paperwork to run for re-election to his at-large council seat in late April, and Jerry Valdes, who represents the city’s northeast quadrant, said he’s planning to run again.

Meanwhile, Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman — whose duties also include representing the city’s southwest quadrant — and Peggy Cole, an at-large member, are term-limited.

Whoever ends up on council, there’s plenty of work to get done.

“There’s big stuff coming up,” Valdes said, referencing the Complan process — the first revamp of the city’s comprehensive plan since the 1980s.

Though council is currently scheduled to finalize the plan before the election, it’s only the beginning. In the months following, council is scheduled to undertake a reworking of city zoning and land use codes.

Valdes, who is wrapping up his second of three possible terms on city council, said he feels his prior experience on the city’s planning commission would make him a useful asset during the process.

Valdes said he’d also like to see a focus on road repairs and economic revitalization along Littleton Boulevard east of downtown.

Schlachter, who was elected to a two-year term in 2017, said he wants to continue what he calls his efforts to balance the maintenance of Littleton’s historic character with “community-minded development.”

“We have a responsibility to our community to preserve the Littleton way of life, protect the clean environment, and cultivate a safe and livable community where all our residents have a chance to succeed,” Schlachter said in a news release.

Schlachter, an outreach coordinator for the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, is also a member of the Littleton Leadership Academy executive committee, a civic affairs education program run by former mayor Susan Thornton.

Mayor Debbie Brinkman, who has served on council since 2007, said it feels strange to see the end in sight.

“We’re still working on so many things, and my focus is there, but you can’t help but know that some things you’re doing are for the last time,” Brinkman said.

Brinkman said she sees big issues brewing in District 4, the city’s southwest side, including the impending redevelopment of the Ensor property at the southwest corner of Santa Fe Drive and Mineral Avenue, and the planned extension of RTD light rail to the south.

Brinkman said she’d like to see Littleton allow citizens to vote for their mayor, rather than the current system, where councilmembers select one of their own to serve a two-year term as mayor. Littleton’s increased presence and importance in regional issues would benefit from a mayor serving a longer term with more clout, she said.

“Cities aren’t fighting each other anymore,” Brinkman said. “We’re uniting to push back against things coming down from the state or federal government. To not have a mayor with a stronger voice in the region is a disservice to the community.”

Councilmember Peggy Cole said she hopes future councils remain committed to preserving Littleton’s charm.

“They’ll have the chance to decide whether we keep the small-town feel, or whether we end up with tall apartment buildings everywhere,” said Cole, who has served on council since 2007.

Cole said she hopes she’s remembered as someone who gave a fair shake to everyone who came before council.

“That hasn’t always been the case with council,” she said.

As for what’s next, Cole said she doesn’t want to disappear from civic life.

But first, she said, she and her husband would like to go on vacation.

“If the weather and our health our good, we’ll make it a big one,” she said.

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