Krista Kafer, a Denver Post opinion columnist
, adjunct professor and longtime fixture in conservative think tanks, has announced her candidacy for an at-large seat on Littleton City Council.
Kafer, 51, said in an interview that she sees “safety and having a thriving, livable family-friendly city” as her top issues.
“Vagrancy, trash, graffiti and crime have no place in Littleton,” she said. “Littleton needs to be a place that's safe for everybody.”
Kafer said she is dismayed at the sight of panhandlers in Littleton.
“On my way to and from work I see able-bodied men begging on street corners,” she said. “It's demoralizing to see people who don't work, and the vagrants who sleep in Slaughterhouse Gulch leave a lot of trash behind. It bugs me.”
Kafer declined to comment on the Tri-Cities Homelessness Policy Group's recently-unveiled “action plan”
to address homelessness in Littleton, Englewood and Sheridan, saying she was not yet familiar with the document.
“But I can tell you there are things we should not do,” she said. “Authorized camping is out of the question. There are wonderful services in downtown Denver people need to avail themselves of. I'm not saying if you're having problems you need to leave town, but if you're living in a tent doing meth and you don't want help, move on.”
Kafer also said she is skeptical of calls from housing affordability advocates to streamline zoning to allow for greater housing density.
“We already have a lot of diversity of housing,” Kafer said. “You can find a townhome, condo or apartment here that meets your needs. If you have too much housing density you end up with traffic issues.”
Kafer said she hopes to focus on ensuring Littleton has a “jobs-friendly, business-friendly atmosphere.”
“We're not some bland suburb — we're a real city with a real main street with wonderful shops and restaurants, and I want to keep those thriving,” she said.
Kafer said she hasn't yet made up her mind on a proposed slate of ballot measures to increase marijuana and sales taxes and create a lodging tax to bolster Littleton's struggling capital projects fund.
“I'm more inclined toward the lodging and marijuana taxes, but I'm still weighing the sales tax idea,” she said. “It's a tough time to ask people to pay more, but it's also not a huge increase. It might be better to defer a little ways out.”
Boasting a long career in public policy, Kafer said she has previously been approached to run for state legislature, but was put off by entrenched partisanship.
She said she was approached again to run for city council — though she wouldn't say by whom — and was attracted to the board's nonpartisan nature and direct role in the lives of citizens.
“I want to make the city flourish and listen to people,” she said. “I love policy over politics.”
Kafer said she chose to run at-large as opposed to for the newly-created citywide mayor's position because she didn't want to step on the toes of mayoral candidate Kyle Schlachter
, whom she considers a friend.
“Not that Mayor Kafer doesn't have a nice ring to it,” she said.
Kafer previously served as the senior policy analyst for education at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, where she advocated for charter schools and education vouchers.
She was also named a senior fellow at the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank, and the Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University's think tank, which hosts the Western Conservative Summit. She was a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank.
Kafer teaches communications, political science and enrichment classes at Regis Univeristy and the University of Denver.
Kafer lives with her German shepherd/chow chow mix Bacon.
The campaign website listed on her candidate affidavit, KristaKafer.org, was not active as of July 14.