Valdes, Milliman win Littleton council seats; Grove and Melin hold leads in at-large race

By David Gilbert
Posted 11/5/19

Pam Grove and Scott Melin led the race for Littleton's two at-large city council seats in early returns on election night, though neither had much to say amid tight results.

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Valdes, Milliman win Littleton council seats; Grove and Melin hold leads in at-large race

Pam Grove and Scott Melin snagged Littleton's two at-large city council seats, according to unofficial results from the Nov. 5. election.
Grove led the five-way race with 25.6% of the vote on Nov. 6, landing a four-year seat on council.
"I'm honored that citizens want me to represent them," said Grove, who has sat on the city's Historical Preservation Board since 2010. "I think my belief in thoughtful growth and advocacy for the historic charm of the city resonated with voters."
Grove said she'll be paying close attention to developments at the Ensor property, a large undeveloped parcel at Mineral Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, and Geneva Village, a city-owned seniors' home facing budget struggles.
Scott Melin, in second place with 24.5% of the at-large vote, landed a two-year council seat.
Melin, an attorney, who was narrowly ahead of third-place finisher Kyle Schlachter, said he was looking forward to some rest after a busy campaign.
"I'm nervous, excited and proud," Melin said. "I'm certainly feeling aware of the huge responsibility and hard work ahead."
Melin said he'll stay focused on "proactively managing growth, preserving and enhancing open space, and making progress on traffic," as well as environmental issues.
The campaign gave Melin a chance to reconnect with his hometown, he said. While canvassing, he enjoyed inadvertently knocking on the doors of his grade school teachers.
Schlachter, the sole incumbent in the at-large race, was in third place on Nov. 6.
While he said he wasn't officially conceding yet, Schlachter said he wasn't expecting the results to change too much.
"I'm surprised," said Schlachter, who was elected to a two-year term in 2017. "I felt really good about the campaign. I got a lot of good feedback, and I ran a positive, forward-thinking campaign."
Schlachter said he hopes the new council stays positive and works for the future.
"I hope they continue to be open-minded, and listen to all perspectives, and not just those of a vocal minority," Schlachter said.
Bill Schwanitz was running at fourth place on Nov. 6, with 18.5% of the vote.
“I'm a little disappointed,” said Schwanitz, a software developer.
“I would hope that the ideas my opponents ran on, like thoughtful growth, preserving our history and listening to constituents, are the same that they take into office with them.”
Jessica Mendes Ford, a substitute teacher and web content writer, placed fifth in the at-large race with 8.4%. She could not immediately be reached for comment.
District 2
Incumbent Jerry Valdes held onto his seat in District 2, the city's northeast quadrant, with 45.1% of the vote on Nov. 6.
“It was a tough campaign,” Valdes said. “I worked hard, and I never took my opponents for granted. If you're going out on the mat to wrestle, you've got to wrestle. I admire my opponents for putting themselves out there.”
Valdes, a retired property manager, said he's eager to put his nose to the grindstone on Littleton's forthcoming zoning and code updates, and to work on improving transportation and road infrastructure.
“I look forward to hearing from my constituents, and I'm happy I get to keep working hard for them.”
Kate Eckel, one of two challengers for Valdes' seat, was in second place with 35.7% of the vote on Nov. 6.
"While the results of the KateforLittleton race weren’t what we wanted, I want to THANK EVERYONE who supported me!" wrote Eckel, a human resources director, in a post on her campaign's Facebook page. "It was an incredible journey and the beginning of work I can do on behalf of my community. Congratulations to the incumbent. I ran a fair, honest race and I’m proud of that."
In a followup text message, Eckel said she extended her congratulations to Valdes and received a gracious response.
Jane Ozga was in third place with 19.2% of the vote. She could not immediately be reached for comment.
District 4
Kelly Milliman landed the council seat in District 4, the city's southwest quadrant, with 53.6% of the vote on Nov. 6. The seat was up for grabs, as its current representative, Mayor Debbie Brinkman, is term limited.
Milliman, a pediatric nurse, was thrilled with the results.
“I'm just floating on cloud 9,” Milliman said. “I'm so grateful to everyone who supported me.”
Milliman said her first orders of business on council will be to learn more about the policies and procedures, then she'll be ready to drill down into issues.
“Traffic is first and foremost,” Milliman said. “That, and growth and development. How can we be proactive in facing those challenges? Thankfully we have a new comprehensive plan and transportation master plan. Those will be our guiding tools to navigate the choppy waters that lay ahead. I'm excited to get to work.”
Milliman's opponent, Iftin Abshir, took 46.4% of the vote on Nov. 6.
“I want to thank everyone for their support,” Abshir, a web content producer, said by text message. “Each of you saw something in me that I never saw before in myself. I also want to thank all of my volunteers, I had an amazing group of helpers and I would not be in this position without them!”
Vote tallies won't be finalized until Nov. 13. New councilmembers will be sworn in on Nov. 19.


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