Q&A with Ken Mihalik, candidate for RTD director, District G

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Residence: Parker

Contact: kenmihalikrtd@gmail.com

What makes you the best choice for this office?

As the incumbent, I have a demonstrated record of supporting decisions that support the financial sustainability of the agency along with the safety and security of riders. A fundamental priority of mine is to represent the taxpayers, the majority of whom do not ride at all.

If you're elected, what is one single issue that will be at the top of your agenda?

I wish there was just one. The bigger or more important the issue, the more it overlaps, and all too often competes, with other priorities. My hope is to continue the work that falls under the umbrella of Reimagine RTD. This is meant to be a blank canvas, ground up redesign of the system. It became even more imperative, for example, after the unforeseen changes in sales tax collections, commuting patterns, and traveling for dining/entertainment. The scale of this effort includes collaboration with other board members and RTD staff and working effectively with affected municipalities and stakeholders at many levels.

If you're elected, what must you accomplish in order for you to consider your term a success?

The agency had financial issues prior to the virus. In addition, there have been real credibility concerns (project delays, flaggers, train horns) and frustrating reliability issues (missed busses and trains due to operator shortages). It's not all bad though. Since 2017, the R line, G line, South East Extension, and N line have opened. The issues that plagued the University of Colorado A line have been resolved. It won't be easy, but an improved financial situation and better operating performance would be a significant victory.

What are the greatest public transit needs in District G, and how would you help realize those needs for your constituents?

I would say the greatest need is commuter service. In addition to frequent, reliable, and safe light rail, there are commuters that live in Parker and the Pinery that work in downtown Denver that utilize the P bus route. Prior to the virus, this service was strained by congestion on I-25. Combined with that, adequate parking is often an issue.

However, the virus has caused complete shifts in commuting demands. There is a lot of uncertainty at this time, but expect a lot of local collaboration with the Reimagine RTD effort.

How can you make sure your constituents' RTD tax dollars go as far as they can to fulfill transit needs both locally and district-wide?

Though an unfavorable position at the Capitol and to residents in northern areas, I support using a ~$120M FasTracks fund for 2021 operations. Additionally, I support all manner of overhead reduction. The reality is that RTD needs to be, and will be, smaller than it is now. Currently, Douglas County has the largest spread in money paid versus services received. I will certainly work to improve the imbalance. Additionally, I would oppose any new tax initiatives. However, there are mechanisms, namely a voucher program, that can save money on operations, distribute funds more equitably, and provide more flexibility to users.

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