As Lauren Simpson campaigned for the city council District 2 seat, for months, “I knew I was a little bit of the underdog,” she said. Though Simpson has had a good deal of involvement with …
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As Lauren Simpson campaigned for the city council District 2 seat, for months, “I knew I was a little bit of the underdog,” she said.
Though Simpson has had a good deal of involvement with politics — she is currently president of the Jefferson County Young Democrats and works as a foreign policy and diplomacy officer for the Canadian government - she has never held a position at the local level.
She also found herself in a race against two opponents: T.O. Owens, who has been involved with the city in several capacities, including as chairman of the planning commission and member of the Board of Adjustment; and Ethan Lutz, who works as a service leader at an oilfield service company.
“I felt it was a good experience no matter what the results would be,” Simpson said.
It was only in the last weeks of October that she began to notice a shift, with more and more residents telling Simpson that they had cast their votes for her — a trend that showed on Election Day, Nov. 5.
By Nov. 8, results showed Simpson had taken the race, earning 44.1% of the vote. Owens earned 7 fewer percentage points at 37.1%; Lutz received 18.8%.
8,066 voters turned out for the District 2 race.
District 2 encompasses the eastern portion of Arvada, with a western boundary that snakes from Wadsworth to Oberon Road, and then up Kipling Street.
The seat was vacated this month by Mark McGoff, who was elected in 2007, now that he has served the limit of three terms.
Though voters reelected three incumbents in the mayoral, District 4 and at-large races, Simpson suggested that the lack of an incumbent in her race may have incited voters to be more open to voting a candidate with no city experience.
“It’s a bit of everything. No single factor was the deciding factor” in the outcome, she said. “I had a core group of extremely passionate volunteers, and I had several people tell me: `I’m excited to see a young woman stand up.’”
She added District 2 residents told her they particularly liked her plans to advocate for preserving the charm, but providing necessary updates, to the district’s infrastructure.
Noting that District 2 is the oldest district in Arvada, resident Judy Strasbaugh said that Simpson’s commitment to the infrastructure stood out.
“The businesses and the homes here are 60 years old. They’re in need of new families coming in,” she said. “We wanted new blood. We’re being ignored; there’s no revitalization.”
But in addition, what may be at the core of the “surprising” win, McGoff said, could simply be that Simpson’s personality, and the thousands of hours she and volunteers put into getting out the message through door-to-door conversations, calls and texts, resonated with voters.
“Lauren is a well-qualified candidate and she had good volunteer assistance,” he said. “The main thing I hope for is that the council will continue to work with each other very closely. Even when we’ve disagreed, we’ve disagreed in a good way, and I think that’s the most important thing.”
Simpson said she plans to do just that while prioritizing a number of issues from the get-go. She would like to help expedite the city’s decision-making process on whether to contract with a single waste-hauler, avoiding holding a special election, if possible. She would also like to discuss establishing a hospital within city limits and creating new diverse housing stock options, she said.
“I’m really humbled and honored to be doing this. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s going to be worthwhile,” she said. “People can contact me any time. I’m here. I’m available. I’m excited.”
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