Election 2021 Q&As: Candidates for Littleton mayor and city council

Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/6/21

Littleton voters will decide who should lead the city council as mayor in the election that ends Nov. 2, with ballots being mailed out starting Oct. 8.

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Election 2021 Q&As: Candidates for Littleton mayor and city council

Posted

Littleton voters will decide who should lead the city council as mayor in the election that ends Nov. 2, with ballots being mailed out starting Oct. 8.

This is the first election in which voters will directly choose their mayor, as opposed to the position being appointed by councilmembers, as it has in the past. The mayor is also a city council member.

City voters will also fill three other council seats in District 1, District 3 and an at-large position. All seats are four-year terms. District 1 covers northwest Littleton and includes downtown. District 3 covers southeast Littleton.

The Littleton Independent sent questionnaires to each candidate to help voters learn more about them. Here are their responses, edited for clarity.

MAYOR

Jon Buck

Occupation: CEO of HopeCycle, a nonprofit that gives bikes to kids in need

Campaign website/contact information: JonBuckForMayor.com

Why do you want to serve on city council?

I care deeply for the health, vibrancy and future of Littleton. I have been invested in our city for over a decade and since this is such a critical time for Littleton — with unified land code implementation, major budgeting decisions in front of us that must consider the cultural and economic health of our city for generations to come, desperately-needed infrastructure investments and maintenance, among other critical issues — I decided to step up for consideration by our citizens to bring the skillset and expertise I've gained in my work in a time that I believe they are needed most.

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you're seeking?

My personal investment and care for the city where my family fellowships, shops and calls home. Founding, leading and championing collaborative initiatives that have brought lasting positive impacts has taught me what is needed to bring widely opposing views to the table to find solutions that benefit our community through intentional and informed decisions. Being a founding member of Littleton's Transportation Board, I know firsthand the needs we have for our city in this area. Finally, leading a nonprofit, I know the strategic decisions needed for success and am well-versed in facilitating through Robert's Rules of Order.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

To ensure — and in some cases, create the necessary platforms — that the varying perspectives surrounding each of the major decisions that our city is facing currently is intentionally heard, understood and documented. We as leaders cannot make informed decisions on critical issues that affect the city we all call home without first taking the time needed to consider every side to the issue and consider the available solutions.  

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing Littleton and how would you address it? 

Our single greatest issue is the reality that unless we make intentional decisions to wisely and faithfully address our current financial and infrastructure situation as soon as possible, the Littleton that we all love and enjoy is on an unsustainable path. Our citizens' unencumbered mobility, safety and hometown enjoyment will be noticeably diminished in the very near future without drastic change. If elected, I will champion that necessary change through the reduction of bloated expenses and increasing revenue through means that do not place the burden on our citizens' shoulders but plan wisely and hopefully for the future. 

Carol Fey

Occupation: City councilmember 

Campaign website/contact information: carolfey4mayor.com

Why do you want to serve on city council?

I love getting things done and making people happy while doing it.One of my favorite events is when a citizen comes to me, mad as heck because there's a pothole. I say, “Tell me where it is, and I bet it can be fixed by tomorrow.” Because of our great city staff, the hole is filled fast, and the citizen doesn't need to be mad anymore

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you're seeking?

My dad was an extreme liberal, even serving in World War II as a conscientious objector draining swamps in New Guinea. My mom was quite conservative. She believed that the kids killed at Kent State “got what they deserved.” My job was to keep the peace so that the household ran smoothly — and it did. I easily translate between sets of values so that work gets done.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

Celebrate the city's recent monumental accomplishments such as updating zoning and working with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) on plans and funding to fix the intersection of Mineral and Santa Fe.

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing Littleton and how would you address it? 

We need to collect data before jumping into problem-solving. An example is the Tri-Cities Homelessness Policy Group. An assumption might have been that we first needed money. Instead, we gathered data and were surprised to find that many individuals are veterans and grew up in Littleton. Families have kids in Littleton schools. Services such as the Veterans Administration and federal food programs don't cost the cities but are often hard to connect with. So we created a center to connect people with existing services. This data-plan-action process can get us through our complex issues such as traffic management, development and budget management.

Kyle Schlachter 

City or town of residence: Littleton 

Occupation: Marketing coordinator for the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, Colorado Department of Agriculture

Campaign website/contact information: Kyle4Littleton.com 

Why do you want to serve on city council?

As a father of two young kids, I care deeply about our community's future. Littleton deserves leadership that listens to the residents as well as the small business owners, understands our community's values and has the vision to maintain the history of our city while adapting to the modern, metropolitan and inclusive society in which we live. It's important to me that Littleton not simply remain a great place, but gets even better. That's why I am running for mayor. Serving my community as mayor is a task that requires a commitment to the past, present and future of Littleton.

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you're seeking?

I've served on the city council, I've been the chairperson of a city board and I have a proven track record of working well with the other council members, city staff and county and state officials. I have shown I respect others' ideas and will listen to all opinions. I know how to run public meetings and will ensure that city council members work productively to provide clear direction to the city manager so that staff can manage the administration of those policies.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

Keeping Littleton a great place to live is my top priority. This also means making sure the city has the financial resources to provide the services — Littleton Museum, Bemis Library, and the many community events — that we expect. This is why I support ballot initiative 3A and am hopeful a majority of the voters will also support it. Ensuring the financial sustainability of the city will also require thoughtful and innovative land-use decisions to ensure entrepreneurs will want to bring their businesses — and sales tax revenue — to Littleton.

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing Littleton and how would you address it? 

Better planning. We took a big step in the right direction by updating the Comprehensive Plan when I was on city council, but there is more work to be done. Had long-term planning been a priority 15 to 20 years ago, we may not have (these) current financial troubles. The future definitely holds more traffic issues, so it is important to start planning how to meet those traffic needs along Santa Fe and Broadway in particular. I look forward to working with CDOT and RTD to develop plans to address future transportation needs starting now.

CITY COUNCIL AT LARGE

Krista Kafer

Occupation: Teaches communications, political science and enrichment classes at Regis University

Campaign website/contact information: kristakafer.org/

Why do you want to serve on city council?

I'm running for Littleton City Council because I love this city. I'm committed to keeping Littleton the best place to live, work, raise a family, start a business and retire. Livability, Opportunity and Security are my top priorities. With the right policies, we can preserve Littleton's special small city character while expanding opportunities for homeownership, entrepreneurship, the arts, recreation and education. With 25 years of public policy experience, I know I can make a difference.

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you're seeking?

While public policy experience is important for an elected leader, the ability to listen and to follow-through are the most essential qualities. People tell me how much they value good roads, beautiful parks, wonderful places like our unique museum, main street and library, our neighborhoods and shopping districts, and city events. They are concerned about how traffic and urban camping are impacting our city. I'm listening and I'm committed to finding solutions.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

Council, staff and members of the public worked hard to create the Envision Littleton Comprehensive Plan and associated plans for making needed improvements. I'm committed to seeing it through. Additionally, Littleton is considering how to address urban camping and homelessness. It is essential that people who want services get them. Those who want to camp in our parks, leave trash and engage in panhandling need to move on. Littleton needs to be a safe, walkable, family-friendly city.

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing Littleton and how would you address it? 

Like all Front Range communities, Littleton is experiencing growth. If managed well, growth can make a city even better. When I was a teenager, Littleton was not flourishing the way it is today. Our neighborhoods and shopping districts have experienced renewal as people have moved in, refurbished aging homes and patronized businesses. Growth, however, can strain city resources, and we need to ensure our roads, housing stock and city services keep up. We need to preserve what's wonderful about Littleton while welcoming new people to our community.

Gretchen Rydin 

Occupation: Licensed clinical social worker and licensed addictions counselor 

Campaign website/contact information: gretchen4littleton.com

Why do you want to serve on city council?

In recent months, I've felt the events of an imploding world. Fires. Riots and protests. COVID deaths and full ICU beds. These colossal problems feel insurmountable. Yet, serving on city council is something I can do to make a positive change in my tiny corner of the world. On city council, I can work to improve the quality of life for all people in Littleton. Here we have the opportunity to fix roads, support our small businesses and enhance our main street, parks, trails, museum and library. Here we can address inequity, foster inclusion and work toward environmental sustainability.

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you're seeking?

I am an exceptionally good listener. I will use my training as a licensed therapist to listen to citizens as means to good governance. Every voice should be heard and every voice should count. I am a strong collaborator. As a social worker — and in a previous life as a project manager — I know how to build and maintain relationships and work with multiple systems to get results. These skills are key to working with other council members and with our important regional partners, such as Littleton Public Schools, South Suburban Parks and Recreation and Arapahoe and Jefferson County.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

I will address two human issues: (One is) homelessness. We must find real solutions to this issue, not just declare that “those people” don't belong here. Homelessness is a problem for Littleton businesses and is especially damaging for schoolchildren; I will work with LPS to support its homeless families. I will also focus on housing options so that younger families can afford to move into Littleton. (The other is) Afghan refugees. I will support funding for the Littleton Immigrant Resource Center at Bemis Library so that our community will be prepared to support those who have given so much for us.

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing Littleton and how would you address it?

Littleton’s roads and many of its city-owned buildings are crumbling due to years of deferred maintenance. Traffic has grown increasingly worse (90,000 cars per day at Mineral and Santa Fe, which was built for 20,000 per day), while Littleton’s roads rank in the bottom 25 percent of all towns in Colorado, posing a severe safety risk for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike.

City employees and citizens also deserve to have safe public buildings. I will ensure that the city can access federal grant dollars to rebuild Littleton’s roads and fortify its buildings with ADA- and eco-friendly standards.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 1

Patrick Driscoll 

Occupation: Councilmember and account executive for Paramount Residential Mortgage Group

Campaign website/contact information: 303-668-7877 or pdriscoll5@comcast.net

Why do you want to serve on city council?

Back in 2017 a business leader approached me and asked if I would consider running because he stated “the current council was not pro-business or development. The City is stagnant and we need to get moving.” I've been on council for four years and I've had the honor of servicing District 1. I've really enjoyed working with city staff and my fellow council members. We don't always see eye-to-eye but in the end, we all see what's best for Littleton. My job is to listen, and take that information back to staff and get it resolved.  

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you're seeking?

The fact that I've served on council for four years. I consider myself a leader, and when faced with a challenge I get my hands dirty and get results. I am a good listener, and quick to respond to emails, texts or phone calls.I value the hard work staff puts in every day to make Littleton the best city in Colorado.

If re-elected, what would be your first priority in office?

Continue the work of the Unified Land Use Code. This is a living breathing document. We know it's not perfect, but we have a great document that homeowners, builders and developers can rely on. We also need to tighten up the rules around short term rentals and accessory dwelling units. I will also push for conversation around Geneva Village, so our neighbors and residents understand where the city and council stand. 

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing Littleton and how would you address it? 

For the city, it's the Capital Fund Project. If the citizens expect more from the city then we need to pass 3A. It will be the biggest game-changer since Elway did a helicopter against Green Bay in the Super Bowl. For District 1, I am eager to have our roads and medians repaired. When you enter the city along the four main corridors I want Littleton to be noticeably different than our neighbors with beautiful medians and smooth roads. It's great for the neighbors, but also for businesses looking at Littleton as a possible location for their company. The question we all should be asking is how do we rebuild downtown that addresses parking, traffic and walkability.

Candice Ferguson

(The candidate submitted her questionnaire responses on Oct. 6, past the deadine to be printed with other candidate responses in the Oct. 7 edition of the Littleton Independent.)

Occupation:  Small business owner

Campaign website/contact information: candiceforlittleton.com and CandiceForCityCouncil@gmail.com

Why do you want to serve on city council?

I want to bring my leadership and skills to continue the council’s work to keep Littleton a great place to live and raise a family. Littleton is a great community with growing and thriving businesses, but it is also a place where our teachers, first responders, and grocery store workers can’t afford to live. We need to listen to our community and develop plans for how we can create smart growth and develop affordable housing while maintaining the quality of life we all expect. While data-driven decisions are critical, we can never forget the human component that drives these needs.

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you're seeking?

To start, I have successfully directed the Marketing and Communication projects for a global company, learning and adjusting for the cultural differences in the area and achieving corporate objectives. Locally, I was Communications Director for Bond 4A in 2019, which got much needed funding for rebuilding and enhancing the infrastructure in Littleton Public Schools. I’ve also chaired multiple fund-raising initiatives for Littleton schools, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars to that has been used for technology and staffing to ensure they continue to deliver the best education to our children.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

I would host a series of town-hall sessions with residents and business owners in District 1 to better understand the issues that are most pressing to them. I have held several of these events over the last several years as a community activist and as candidate for state representative and I’ve heard from many people, but being elected will bring increased participation from the community and a more complete picture of the issues that are most important.

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing Littleton and how would you address it?

Strengthen growth planning — There have been many parts of Littleton’s infrastructure that have not been maintained primarily due to funding limitations. We cannot let these items go on for too long and repair costs are only growing. We need to revisit each of these items and prioritize them based on the outcome of the proposed sales tax increase ballot initiative. With this as a focus, we begin to solve our issues with roads, and unified land use codes that often hinder forward progress.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 3

Stephen Barr 

(NOTE: In the Oct. 7 print edition of the Littleton Independent, the responses of another candidate were erroneously published under the name of Stephen Barr instead of his actual responses. His responses are accurately presented below. We regret the error.)

Occupation: Program manager at the nonprofit American Water Works Association

Campaign website/contact information: steve4littleton.org 

Why do you want to serve on city council?

Public service has always been a part of who I am and running for city council is taking my professional and personal experiences to another level of giving back to my community. I want to serve in this position because I care deeply about my friends, family and neighbors. And I would want to translate that care, and passion, and empathy to those that need their government to work for them. I want to make a community that my daughter can grow up in and be proud of.

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you're seeking?

I've had a wide variety of professional and personal experiences that would make me an ideal candidate for city council. I've traveled across the country and across the world, working with the most marginalized communities in politically and financially difficult situations to work on infrastructure, governance and social service projects. But my most important qualification isn't my professional background, it is my ability to give my heart and my passion to learning something new, to listening to and working with new people that may not share the same worldview as my own, and to delivering results in difficult circumstances.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

My priority is and will always be to listen. I would listen to those with experience in the city staff, listen to those with a long and storied history in Littleton, listen to the business owners, the schools, the developers, the neighborhood associations and those that are most marginalized in our city. That means continuing my outreach beyond just campaigning to provide a simple, transparent and consistent form of engagement for those in District 3. I'd like to develop a system to show how I am translating concerns into council and communicating the outcomes back to my constituents.

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing Littleton and how would you address it? 

The single greatest issue facing Littleton is the deferred critical maintenance on our infrastructure, and I hope that our residents can vote for the sales tax increase in November to make this investment in Littleton's future. A close second would be the lack of housing diversity and accessibility throughout the city. Increasing accessible housing for a wide range of economic ability is a difficult task, but the strength and health of our local economy, our schools, our businesses and our infrastructure dictates that we need a greater economic diversity to keep all these critical systems functioning.

Paul Bingham 

Occupation: Retired engineer

Campaign website/contact information: Paul4Council.com

Why do you want to serve on city council?

I've been involved with the city council a long time, going to all of their meetings for 15 years. I lived here long enough and learned enough about the city that I feel like I want to and have the knowledge to make a contribution to the leadership of Littleton. 

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you're seeking?

Being an engineer is a good start. Being in the Army also helps. The time I've spent observing the city government in operation, learning how it works, being involved with it as a resident for long years has allowed me to climb the "learning curve" such that I'm ready to be productive on city council, in my first meeting.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

There are four developments likely to come forward on south Santa Fe Drive; from north to south Aspen Glen, the Mineral and south Santa Fe intersection improvement, and the two proposed developments on the Ensor property. Along with these are the Colorado Department of Transportation's study on south Santa Fe. I would encourage a great amount of cooperation between stakeholders to get a large comprehensive plan together that covers all these elements of this large area. If done well this could become a great area of Littleton.

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing Littleton and how would you address it? 

The current greatest issue is sales tax. How would I fix it? I'm on a citizens committee to get ballot issue 3A passed. The greatest single issue is traffic. How would I address it? This is part of my first priority issue, the intersection of south Santa Fe and Mineral. Littleton has an intermediate plan costing about $9 million, and an expensive plan to cure the problem costing $90 million. I would encourage Littleton to proceed with the intermediate plan along with a large amount of coordination with the stakeholders of the other developments I've mentioned.

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