Council candidates questioned at AARP forum

Posted 9/24/09

As issues were discussed and questions posed, candidates for Littleton City Council did their best to win over the group of residents at the AARP’s …

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Council candidates questioned at AARP forum


As issues were discussed and questions posed, candidates for Littleton City Council did their best to win over the group of residents at the AARP’s forum.

District I incumbent Jim Taylor is running unopposed. District III is up for grabs with new-comer Travis Nicks running against Phil Cernanec. Incumbent Peggy Cole holds an at-large position and is seeking re-election against former Councilmember Bruce Stahlman and new-comer Yoon Joo Mager. Two candidates will be elected to at-large positions.

The forum allowed candidates an introduction of themselves, followed by a Q&A with audience members at the Douglas H. Buck Recreation Center Sept. 21. Travis Nicks was absent and Yoon Joo Mager introduced herself but left before the questioning to return to work.

With the current state of the economy and some growing pains Littleton is facing, candidates fielded questions in regard to possible elimination of senior programs, the vision for the city and whether or not Littleton is closed for business.

“It’s clear Littleton is not closed for business,” said Stahlman.

Stahlman and Cernanec were put on the spot due to the support they’ve received from former Littleton Mayor Susan Thornton.

Thornton has said there’s a perception in the metro Denver business community that the city is closed to business, though she is quick to add that the perception is erroneous.

“Now, the issue beyond that is how we do better to support businesses and encourage them to join us in Littleton,” Stahlman said.

“How do we promote to the businesses we want here. It’s clear it’s not closed but we need to figure out better, more creative ways to get people to relocate here.”

Cernanec agreed saying that the city already has a good “aura” about it.

“At some level Littleton is open for business,” he said. “But that’s not a uniform position.”

The perception of Littleton being open for business and the reality need to match, he said.

That’s also the case with the city’s Comprehensive Plan, according to Cernanec.

Some areas in his district are incorrectly zoned either commercial or residential.

“Getting the Complan to the point where it’s consistent with reality would be a good place to start.”

From there candidates segued into a discussion about the dismantling of the citizen volunteer Business Industry Affairs Advisory Committee and the purpose of such a committee.

Taylor told audience members that the council decided to make that a topic at the annual city council workshop in January. Cole continued saying that they would look at repurposing the committee for future use.

Stahlman said he saw the dismantling of BIAAC as a “missed opportunity.”

“I believe it needs to be repurposed to be an ambassador for what Littleton is. We need them to help tell the story of Littleton,” he said.

Agreeing with Stahlman, Cernanec said the city “needs to engage in outreach to individuals, families and businesses.”

“But it’s too important a task to be left only to city staff,” he said.

Next, the group responded to questions regarding flag pole annexation, or the act of acquiring new land that does not touch existing city boundaries.

This is sometimes used when a municipality desires to annex a commercial or industrial area without taking over intervening residential areas, so as to collect tax revenues from the businesses or industry without having to provide services to residents.

The technique is often criticized for being used for the purpose of manipulating vote distribution among election precincts and districts.

The consensus among the four candidates present was that the issue is complex and that much community discussion must take place before any annexation is approved.

“I’m reluctant to rush into a decision like that without all the evidence,” said incumbent Jim Taylor who is running unopposed.

“I’ve analyzed billion-dollar capital projects and what I’ve learned is that larger projects mean more complications. Annexations involve citizen input, a look at services, and the long-term costs versus the revenue you’ll bring in,” Stahlman said.

“It’s not fair to not take a detailed look at all of that.”

More easily answered questions came in the form of whether or not the candidates would be in favor of cutting senior benefits, or whether or not they wanted to close the Littleton Historical Museum.

Every candidate answered both questions with a resounding “no.”

Each said senior resources are a necessity in the community and that the museum was too valuable to close.

The forum ended with the candidates commenting on the basic values they’d use when voting on council.

“We’ll do what’s best for the people of Littleton,” each said in his own words.

Ballots will be mailed Oct. 13-16. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 5.


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