The implementation of a construction defect ordinance rose to the top of focus for community members and the eight city council candidates at the Sept. 18 Arvada Chamber of Commerce City Council Candidate Forum.
“I loved that all the candidates said yes to construction defects,” said resident Dot Miller, CEOof Professional Independent Insurance Agents of Colorado and former Arvada Chamber president. “They (the city) need to get involved and create an ordinance.”
The event, held at the Lamar Street Events Center,5888 Lamar St.,was an informational forum where citizens could hear from Arvada City Council candidates on issues. In his opening remarks, Arvada Chamber chairman John Bodnar noted the event has been held for more than 30 years and is a city tradition.
Along with the discussion around constructions defects, candidates spoke about their priorities, the needs of their districts and the city at large, and where they see the city going in the future. Each candidate presented opening and closing statements and replies to short-answer and rapid-fire questions about such topics as urban renewal, transportation, recreation and affordable housing.
“I love how they all wanted to help the community out and I liked how they explained what they wanted to do,” said Elizabeth Garwood, a seventh-grade Early College of Arvada student. “They were prepared and very educated about what they wanted to do.”
As the only open forum scheduled for this year’s city council elections, several candidates and the moderator said the event was unbiased and expressed disappointment that not all those running attended.
“I do think these forums are very valid, and I am very disappointed, starting with the elephant in the room, that my opponent is not here today,” said Mayor Marc Williams in his opening remarks. “It’s insulting to your intelligence to think that you can’t look at the candidates, hear what they have to say and make your own decision.”
Mayoral candidate Dave Chandler, District 2 candidate Dave Palm and councilman-at-large candidate Carl Campanella did not attend, citing bias and a lack of transparency.
“It’s a pity the other candidates didn’t come, especially Mr. Chandler,” said John Kiljan, a resident of the Ralston Creek neighborhood. “He could’ve come and stood up and defended his position — this is the only open forum for them to do that.”
Lake Arbor resident David Chandler did not attend. He cited the incumbent council members’ involvement, including , with the chamber as an inherent bias.
“I stand on principles of fairness and openness — this particular forum falls short of those principles,” said in a statement to the paper.
Arvada lawyer Marc Williams was elected mayor in 2011 after serving 12 years on the city council and being involved with the Arvada Community Food Bank, the Arvada Chamber of Commerce and several local, county and statewide committees and boards of directors.
“One of our major issues is to be able to have multi-family, owner-occupied housing,” Williams said about having more affordable housing in the city. “We can’t have that or we don’t have a lot of that now throughout the Denver-metropolitan region because of construction defects laws. And Arvada City Council is poised to take action because the state legislature … refused to allow a debate and a dialogue to happen. … That’s what’s important, to be able to have that conversation, to be able to deal with the issues so there is a wide variety of housing stock being built in the community for all levels of folks.”
Incumbent Jerry Marks was appointed to the Arvada City Council in January 2014 after former councilmember Rachel Zenzinger was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Colorado Senate. Marks is an Arvada native, business owner, co-founder of the Arvada Vitality Alliance nonprofit and former volunteer firefighter and chairman of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce.
“My elephant in the room is to attract people to Jefferson County the school board has to get their act together,” Marks said. “You know right, wrong whoever you support — they have to unite and fix things. There are businesses that are looking at maybe not coming to Jefferson County because of what’s happening with the school board and affordable housing and those things. I would focus my energy on those support services.”
Nancy Ford moved to Arvada and started her own business, the Ford Research Group, LLC. She is also a professor at Metropolitan State University and is active in the city’s Sustainability Advisory Committee and the Citizens Capital Improvement Plan Committee. She provided input to the city’s comprehensive plan.
“First, I would talk to the residents in my district to find out if there really are needs for recreation,“ she said “Then I would find out what they were and I would look at the city’s priorities and identify what funding is available and go from there.”
Incumbent Mark McGoff is seeking his third council term. Over his 46 years in Arvada, McGoff has served as president of the Arvada Center Arts Council, the Arvada Historical Society and the Arvada Jefferson Kiwanis Club. He also has been involved with the board of directors for the Ralston House, the Historic Olde Town Arvada merchants association, Arvada Sister Cities and the Arvada City Charter commission.
“I think there could be more emphasis on the industrial area of Arvada,” said. “At the Gold Strike Station, 58th and Sheridan (east of that intersection) is a big industrial area that needs great improvement — I think we can do more there. Again, it takes a lot of work with Adams County. Fifty-eighth Avenue is in need of much improvement. ... There’s Adams County industrial land to be developed and there’s City of Arvada land to be developed between Sheridan and Tennyson Streets and I think that’s where we need to concentrate more of our economic development efforts.”
David Palm is a Colorado native and co-owner of Hackberry Hill Communications. In the 1990s he instigated a recall effort for one of the members of the Jefferson County School Board and is in favor of citizen control and the removal of urban renewal and tax increment financing (TIF). He was contacted for comment about his boycott of the forum and said that, among other reasons, he did not think it appropriate for the Arvada chamber to be holding such an event.
"The Chamber of Commerce is a lobbying organization and I don't necessarily believe that what's in the best interest of business owners in Arvada, many of whom don't live in Arvada, is automatically good for the taxpaying citizens of Arvada," he said.
Incumbent Bob Dyer held a position on the Arvada City Council from 1991 through 1999. He was elected again in 2007. He has been involved with the Arvada Fire Protection District and the Arvada Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority Board, and as a co-founder and president of the Arvada Vitality Alliance.
David Jones is a native Arvadan, father, CEO and president of Sonsio, an automotive company in west Arvada. He has served on several volunteer organizations, has a business background and is active with his faith.
“Arvada’s always been considered a bedroom community, but now it’s time we bring those types of services to the area in a responsible way so they look good and fit well in the community,” Jones said on filling the grocery and retail gap in the Leyden Rock and Candelas neighborhoods. “We really need to look at this and understand what the needs are.”
“We have to make sure we don’t change outlying development plans that allocate the proper land use and we shouldn’t be doing anything that’s going to discourage finishing the development of the planned areas,”said on the same question. “When you start looking at areas around 64th and McIntyre, the problem is — where is there land to put anything else?”
Incumbent Bob Fifer was elected to the Arvada City Council in 2011. Among other volunteer positions, he is vice president of the Arvada Community Food Bank Board of Directors, past president of the Historic Olde Town Arvada merchants association, a member of the Arvada Historical Society, a graduate of the Transit Alliance Citizen’s Academy and a baseball umpire and coach.
Kathy Drulard is a former records and administrative manager for the Air Pollution and Water Quality Control divisions of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She Is also a volunteer and has been active with Boy Scouts and Jeffco Schools, was a founding member of the Friends of the Jefferson County Library Foundation and volunteered with CASA, or the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Jefferson and Gilpin counties.
Carl Campanella, an Arvada native, did not attend the event. He is concerned about urban renewal, growth in northwest Arvada and, as he said in a release on a community website, a lack of respect for community. When asked for comment as to why he did not attend the chamber forum, he said: "I chose not to accept the invitation based on the fact that the Chamber and incumbents are so entrenched with each other."
“The whole purpose of the Gold Line is to get folks out of their cars and find mass transit,” Fifer said on enhancing the neighborhoods around each Gold Line station. “We need to create some density where people do not need cars — they can find other mass transit to get to their job. And I also believe in promoting walkable, livable communities around there and making sure you can get there safely without a vehicle, again reducing traffic, in turn reducing your carbon footprint, which promotes a sustainable future and supports a vibrant community.”
“We need to fix our Arvada Ridge Road — that road is in terrible shape,” Drulard said on the same issue. “If we’re going to have walkability, bike-ability, we need to make sure all the sidewalks at the stations are working. I’d also like to see some businesses near some of the stations … such as pharmacies or perhaps small grocery stores. This would enable people to stay away from cars and develop less air pollution.”