Former at-large city council member Kyle Schlachter has won the race for Littleton mayor, beating council incumbent Carol Fey and former pastor Jon Buck.
"It feels humbling," Schlachter told Colorado Community Media on election night as the numbers pointed to an apparent win.
Schlachter, as of late Nov. 4, had 48.2% of the vote. In second place was Buck with 31.4% followed by Fey in third with 20.4%.
Schlachter, who narrowly lost his re-election bid in 2019, campaigned on a more progressive platform and had been critical of Fey’s behavior as a councilmember in the past.
Fey ran as a problem solver for the city and said she was able to get citizens results, whether it be fixing potholes or working to bring in more community input on development. Political newcomer Buck said a vote for him would have changed the status quo of the mayorship, which he said has for too long benefited local career politicians.
The mayoral race was the first in decades offering voters the ability to directly pick the mayor. It is a break from the practice of councilmembers choosing the mayor from among their ranks.
Along with mayor, voters elected three councilmembers.
Incumbent councilmember Patrick Driscoll narrowley won re-election to his District 1 seat. He was challenged by Candice Ferguson, an activist who formerly ran for Colorado’s House of Representatives. As of results late Thursday, Driscoll led Ferguson by just 52 votes.
Driscoll said in his campaign that he would continue to be a steady hand on the wheel of the city and has touted his support from business owners in the past.
Ferguson, in her campaign, championed projects such as affordable housing and more resources to promote diversity and inclusion. She was critical of Driscoll’s decision to defund the Littleton Immigrant Resources Center and said votes like that leave out underrepresented voices.
In the District 3 race, Stephen Barr, a nonprofit leader, won a seat against longtime Littleton resident and city watchdog Paul Bingham. Barr, as of Nov. 4, has 56.7% to Bingham's 43.3%.
"Thank you for believing in all of us," Barr told attendees at a watch party inside Carboy Winery on election night as he stood alongside Schlachter and leading at-large candidate Gretchen Rydin.
"I'm jazzed to get to work," he later told CCM.
Barr had said in his campaign that he would bring his ability to bridge the gap between industry, social work and community to meet residents’ needs and support more business growth. Bingham, a regular attendee of council meetings, had said he understands the pulse of the city better than most and is wary of too much growth too soon, something he has said could threaten the city’s character.
In the race for councilmember at-large, a position that represents the whole city, therapist and social worker Rydin won against Krista Kafer, a longtime conservative think tank fixture and teacher at Regis University, with 52.9% of the vote to Kafer's 47.1% as of Nov. 4.
During the race, the two drew sharp differences on the issue of homelessness, which Rydin said requires a multipronged community-centered approach and empathy from community members. Kafer said those who are “panhandlers” and are littering need to “move on” and recently told Colorado Community Media that she would support a camping ban as a councilmember, something Rydin opposes.
Voters were also supporting Ballot Issue 3A, which seeks to raise Littleton’s sales tax by 0.75% to pay for vital infrastructure projects in the coming years. Passing the issue has been seen as crucial by current councilmembers, as well as new candidates, who have sounded the alarm on the city’s Capital Projects Fund, which is set to hit $0 by 2025, and which funds road repair, city-owned building maintenance and public fleets including the police department. The measure passed with 59.3% of the vote.
"I am so unbelievably thankful to the citizens of this community for supporting (3A)," said District 4 Councilmember Kelly Milliman at the Carboy Winery watch party. "It's huge."
Barr also saluted the voters' apparent approval of the sales tax increase.
"It's a clear sign that people believe, 'Yes, we want to take care of the things that we love,'" he said.
For results of other races, visit ColoradoCommunityMedia.com.
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