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Arvada City Council candidates were asked their stances on urban renewal, homelessness, transportation and the aging population at the first candidate forum since the official candidate pool has been set.
The structured question and answer forum was hosted by the Arvada Chamber of Commerce Sept. 15 at the Arvada Center.
At Large candidates Jim Whitfield, Dot Miller and John Malito participated in the forum along with incumbents Nancy Ford, District 1, and John Marriott, District 3. At Large candidate Jordan Hohenstein was scheduled to participate, but had to back out last minute due to illness. He said he will post his answers to the forum questions on his website. Dave Palm, also running for the At Large seat declined to participate in the forum because it was sponsored by the chamber and one of his fellow candidates, Miller, previously worked for the chamber.
While they are running unopposed, Ford and Marriott participated in the forum to be present in the community. The two answered a separate set of questions than the At Large candidates.
“I like to think that we’re running unopposed because we are doing a good job,” Ford said in her opening remarks. “And I will continue to do the good job I have been doing.”
Marriott said just because he doesn’t have an opponent in this election, he doesn’t take it for granted.
“I want to make sure you know I will work just as hard,” he said.
One of the reasons he said he is running for re-election is because the city has work to be done in terms of road maintenance that exceeds the current budget.
“I think we have some years of working on our budget, priorities and I think we can solve those,” Marriott said of road maintenance needs. “We also have long-term needs as far a road capacity and I think we can make big strides into those.”
At Large candidates were asked about how they would propose that the City of Arvada continue to make those necessary improvements. Whitfield, Malito and Miller all stated that they thought a sales tax increase, which city council put to voters last year and failed to get, was not the right way to do it.
“I’m very concerned about a sales tax increase because it’s regressive — It’s applied to all people of all economic condition,” Whitfield said, adding that he’s more interested in looking at priorities and putting together budget plan that involves partnering with neighboring cities.
Malito said he thinks the city can find more revenue not by increasing the tax rate, but encouraging the generation of more sales tax dollars.
Miller’s solution was to look at the the surplus budget.
“Every year we have surplus in Arvada and those one time funds are used for one time projects,” Miller said. “I would propose we put some sort of plan in place to put aside a percentage of all those surplus dollars every year to transportation until we get to where we need to be.”
When asked what local governments role should be in the conversation about the rise of homelessness in Arvada, both Whitfield and Miller said that it’s reaching out to the faith-based community and nonprofit organizations in a facilitator role.
Whitfield said “solving homelessness is not the city’s responsibility, its a responsibility for humanity to solve.
Malito on the other hand said its the role of government to lead.
“Homelessness is a regional issue,” Malito said, adding that other cities need to get together, including Arvada because it’s not going to go away. “We can be another Denver if we turn a blind eye.”
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