This election season, Arvada voters were tasked with deciding just how much change they would like to see on city council. Four of seven council seats were up for reelection, with the District 2 seat …
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This election season, Arvada voters were tasked with deciding just how much change they would like to see on city council.
Four of seven council seats were up for reelection, with the District 2 seat certain to turn over to someone new — the seat will be vacated by councilmember Mark McGoff, who is term-limited, this November.
The mayoral seat, District 4 seat and one of two at-large seats were also up for election, with incumbents Marc Williams, David Jones and Bob Fifer, respectively, running for reelection to their positions.
All three had at least one opponent, paving the way for four newcomers to potentially swear in by the end of this year.
But voters chose to reelect Williams, Jones and Fifer, making District 2 race winner Lauren Simpson the only new member to join the council in 2019 as the group prepares to make decisions on several topics, including short-term rentals and the Jefferson Parkway, in the coming months.
Results in on the morning of Nov. 6 showed that, in District 2, Simpson took 44.1% of the vote, opponent T.O. Owens earned 37.1% and opponent Ethan Lutz earned 18.8%.
In District 4, Jones garnered 61.7% of the vote while candidate Jordan Hohenstein earned 38.3%.
For the at-large seat, Nov. 8 state results showed Fifer earned 58.9% of the vote while candidate Jeff Cannon received 41.1%.
Williams earned 44.9% of the vote, while opponent Harriet Hall garnered 37.5%. The third candidate, Dave Palm, received 17.6%.
“I’m pleased our positive message carried weight,” Williams said. “People are happy here in Arvada.”
The new council plans to address short-term rentals before the end of the year. On Oct. 21, the city held a public hearing to gather feedback on whether Arvada should permit short-term rentals. Arvada considers a short-term rental, or STR, to be a rental for 30 days or less, often leased through sites like Airbnb.
The current Land Development Code (LDC) does not regulate STRs, but as the rentals’ popularity increases, council seeks to add a new article to the LDC that would either prohibit or allow the rentals.
The council deadlocked on its last vote regarding the issue, with councilmembers McGoff, Jones and John Marriott voting to allow STRs and Williams, Fifer and Nancy Ford voting against. Councilmember Dot Miller was absent.
Looking to a future vote, however, Miller said she would “absolutely vote in favor of STRs, no matter what the regulations are.”
“We have one hotel in Arvada and that hotel is always sold out,” she said. “It’s a win-win.”
Meanwhile, Simpson — who will replace STR-favoring McGoff — said she leans toward supporting STRs as well, though she cannot yet commit to voting one way or the other.
“I do believe there needs to be restrictions. Party houses are not OK,” she said, however, “we shouldn’t be taking away legal avenues of revenue for people who are being responsible.”
The continuing and new councilmembers may also have more chances to make decisions around the Jefferson Parkway.
The planned toll road will run through northwest Arvada along the former Rocky Flats site, where a government cleanup was ordered decades ago to rid the soil of nuclear contaminants. Some residents and local officials have questioned whether the parkway project will stir up residual contamination and endanger nearby individuals.
With soil studies underway to test contamination levels the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA) — Jefferson County, Arvada and Broomfield — is awaiting direction on the project from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
If the government greenlights the project, Williams, Fifer and Jones — the latter acting as JPPHA chair — would favor moving forward with the current parkway plans.
Most recently, in April, the council voted to approve $2 million of additional funding for the parkway. In the 5-1 vote, only Ford voted no, with McGoff in excused absence.
All five previous supporters will stay on council, but even with a pro-parkway majority, plans could change if the council does not have concrete proof the project is safe, Simpson said.
“I do believe we want that economic development, but I have serious concerns due to the route that has been selected,” she said. “I’m not going to come down hard and say yes or no, but I will not support any project that is not 100% safe.”
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