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Editor's Note This issue focuses specifically on our candidates for public office in our growing community. From Jennifer Carroll and Dan Woog running for mayor to the nine candidates for the trustee positions: John Ahrens, Mike Evans, MacKenzie Ferrie, Adam Haid, Bill Gippe, Ira Liss, Liz Locricchio, Barry Luginbill and Christiaan van Woudenberg, all are vying for your vote. Each candidate was given the opportunity to tell us about themselves and answer six questions. The questions chosen by ELIFE were a combination of ones that elicited a high quantity of "likes" in a "People's Poll" on the Erie Facebook page and ones that ELIFE feels are important issues in our town. The range of topics includes: Oil & Gas operations, our present debt, residential growth, and increasing tax revenue. The candidates were all emailed the questions at the same time and are published in the order in which we received the candidates responses to them. ELIFE did not make any edits to the candidates' submissions. We published them the same way that we received them. We hope that this special issue of ELIFE provides you some additional insight into the candidates running for office and helps you in your journey of identifying the ones that best align with your values and that you will ultimately vote for. Enjoy the slideshow of the candidates below! Please continue to support the multiple services, shops and other businesses here in the surrounding area who tirelessly work and consistently advertise to bolster our community year after year. Most of all, tell your friends about us and our new endeavor, NoCo, our northern Colorado "sister publication" which just launched it's premier issue. We're here for you Erie; let us know what we can do for any and all of you! No concern is too small or too big for our researchers and writers. All the best!
Trisha Ventker is an author, photographic artist, branding and viral digital marketing expert and retired elementary school teacher. She also finds promoting and bringing local businesses together very rewarding. She is best known for her first book Internet Dates From Hell which is self-published by Ventker through iUniverse. It has since had the movie rights to it optioned by Paula Wagner. Trisha is also one of the first Indie Books authors to have a book optioned for the big screen. Trisha is originally from New York City, presently residing in Erie, Colorado with her husband,son and pup Max (below).
TRISHA VENTKER Editor-in-Chief
Carroll FOR MAYOR
Tell us about yourself : My name is Jennifer Carroll and I am seeking your vote to become Erie’s next Mayor. It has been a privilege to serve Erie residents on the Board of Trustees over the past four years and I am ready to take the next step in serving this amazing community I am so fortunate to call home. My service on the Board and the numerous opportunities I have received to interact with Erie residents, business owners and community leaders has cemented my conviction that Erie is an extraordinary place to live, work, play and raise a family. I purchased my home in Erie in 2010 and am married to my husband Alex and am a proud Mother to Quentin and dog Lily. I am an Aerospace Engineer and Program Manager for Ball Corporation delivering solutions to the U.S. Military and U.S. Space exploration missions. I received a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from CU Boulder and a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Ohio State. Previous leadership roles I have held include elected leadership in IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) representing 10,000+ members regionally and 5,000 members locally, engineer for a U.S. Intelligence Agency, and Grades 3 and 4 head coach for STORM youth lacrosse. I encourage you to learn more about me and my actionable plans for Erie’s most pressing issues on jennifer4erie.com.
How do you plan to reduce the town’s debt of 82 million dollars? While this figure sounds very large and is certainly worth monitoring closely, it is important to understand the majority of this figure is related to water and wastewater investments with smaller portions attributed to the voter-approved Erie Community Center and new Erie Police Station. While multiple revenue sources will contribute to paying down this long-term debt, I am confident that building a sustainable and thriving retail sales tax base is the single best lever we have to pull to stay on track with paying down the debt on schedule. As Erie’s next Mayor, I will make building a sustainable Erie retail sales tax base a top priority. I will accomplish this by fostering a business environment in Erie that is inviting to new businesses and will offer targeted business incentives to bring new businesses to Erie that fit strategically into our long-term plan. The opening of the new King Soopers on Highway 7 that occurred while I was on the Board of Trustees is a great model that I will re-use as Erie’s next Mayor. If you have driven by the new store complex recently and witnessed how busy the parking lot is at all times of the day, then you have seen how a single strategic investment made by Erie is positioned to pay for itself over and over again.
A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact Erie and what do you plan to do about it? I consider Erie’s land along I-25 to be one of Erie’s ‘Big Three’ high potential retail growth opportunities along with Four Corners and 287 and Arapahoe. The widening of I-25 is not something Erie will have much control over but I will ensure as Erie’s next Mayor that this high potential retail growth opportunity for Erie proceeds with a focus on quality and ensure the build-out of the property along I-25 aligns with Erie’s long term objectives. Erie’s land adjacent to I-25 is an incredibly opportunity to bring in sales tax dollars from non-residents and I will ensure we thoughtfully utilize the space to add revenue to the Town of Erie so that we can invest in open space, parks and other projects closer to the parts of Erie where the majority of Erie residents live.
Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? I have been leading the fight for common sense solutions to managing the urban interface between O&G development and Erie schools and residences for the last four years on the Erie Board of Trustees receiving praise from parties across the full spectrum including community groups, O&G operators and State leaders from both major parties, making myself uniquely qualified to find common ground on this challenging issue. As a reminder to residents, I will not accept donations from oil and gas special interests seeking political exchange for permission to operate oil wells with less scrutiny near Erie schools, churches and residences. While I will never take any tools off the table to protect the health and safety of Erie residents such as a moratorium, the reality is that the current legal environment in Colorado is lopsided in favor of the O&G industry over community rights so a moratorium is not the first path I plan to pursue as Mayor. I will lead Erie toward a creative middle ground solution where the Town will be tough with operators but acknowledge that any reasonable progress on this issue will require a collaborative approach with operators. The first pillar of my plan as Mayor is to make it clear to operators that Erie is watching closely (through targeted monitoring or other means) to ensure the operators are following the rules and know that violations will be pursued aggressively. The second pillar of my plan as Mayor will be to press operators within Erie to bring their best ideas to the table as we can surely do better than the status quo. The third pillar of my plan as Mayor will be to continue building out Erie’s wide variety of tools (legal, information requests such as pipeline mappings and others) that we will use to ensure operations are safe and respectful to Erie residents. The fourth pillar of my plan involves a continued presence at the State level to ensure the State continually hears about our concerns and struggles with O&G operations in Erie and understands how the rules (or lack thereof) impact our residents.
How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the town’s infrastructure including roads, water and quality of life? Throughout four years on the Erie Board of Trustees, I have been a leading force in the concept that development needs to pay its own way. My unwavering focus on quality throughout each residential development that comes before the Board has resulted in developers conceding larger community parks, more open space and developments that limit the impact on our community. In 2016, I supported the impact fee increase, increasing impact fees for developers for the first time in over 15 years, that made developers pay more for every new home built in Erie. This added revenue allows Erie to continually upgrade infrastructure, including transportation and water, to meet the impacts of added development. As Erie’s next Mayor, I will commit to Erie residents that I will never exchange my high-quality standards, which include large community parks, generous open space allotments and limiting impacts on neighboring communities, for the approval of short-term residential developments.
Jennifer Carroll - continued What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? As Erieâ€™s next Mayor, I will champion pro-growth solutions to support responsible and sustainable business and commercial growth within Erie. Through strategic investments and partnerships, I believe the Town of Erie has a critical complimentary role to play in developing a sustainable retail sales tax base and ultimately creating more jobs within Erie's borders. I understand what it takes to promote and foster the right environment for businesses such as restaurants and retail establishments in Erie to thrive. Erie has put in place a strong foundation for retail growth and with targeted investments and letting free-market principles play out, we will continue to build a sustainable and thriving retail base.
What makes you the best candidate? Erie is an amazing community made up of amazing people. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to serve my community on the Erie Board of Trustees over the last four years and believe I am best prepared to lead An Optimistic Erie into our next phase. I am an analytical engineer, a compassionate mother, a fearless collaborator, a community servant, an authentic leader, and a resolute optimist. My experience, my level-headedness, my track record of making myself accessible to all residents of all viewpoints, my poise, and my compassion make me the best candidate for Erieâ€™s next Mayor and I humbly ask for your vote.
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Bill Gippe Tell us about yourself: I am running for the Erie Board of Trustees because I am invested in this Town and I care deeply about the future of its residents. My wife Crystal and I have lived in Erie since 2010 and we just had our first daughter, Margot! As new parents, Crystal and I are more committed than ever to making sure Erie is a safe and inviting place to live, work, and raise a family. So, I’m always interested in hearing your views about the needs and interests of our town. In addition to volunteering with a number of local organizations, I work as a civil attorney at Rocky Mountain Legal Center - a non-profit community law service dedicated to helping those in need, and my wife is a veterinarian. Before practicing law, I was a project manager and account manager for several years. You can learn even more about me at my website, www.winoneforgipper.com. I hope you will support my efforts to keep Erie great and put all of my abilities to work for the betterment of our community.
How do you plan to reduce the town’s de t of 82 million dollars? Much of the Town’s debt was created as it invested in improvements in wastewater infrastructure and treatment facilities to prepare for the future growth. While neighboring communities may currently have lower water costs, they also have water systems which need to be upgraded in the very near future, and their costs and debt will increase. To help reduce our debt, Erie has exciting opportunities along Highway 7, Nine Mile Corner, Four Corners, and the I-25 corridor. We will pursue commercial/retail growth as our trade area grows with continued development. Focusing on these areas of development, we will drive sales tax dollars in our Town for generations. In addition to sales tax dollars, Erie has other tools which can help reduce the budget when handled appropriately. For instance, while I served on the Erie Finance Corporation we refinanced water bonds to reduce the effective rate of interest, resulting in more than a million dollars of savings over the life of the bonds. It is imperative that we carefully evaluate these and any other future opportunities as our town continues to expand. As always, it is important we consider our costs and ensure we are spending our tax dollars wisely.
A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact Erie and what do you plan to do about it? Let’s ensure that we maximize the opportunity afforded by the improved highway infrastructure to increase our Town’s revenue stream and visibility. The growth Erie plans along our section of the I-25 corridor needs to balance our communities’ needs, while recognizing that development there, will provide income and create a gateway to our town which will define us in many ways. Transparency by the Town when dealing with potential suitors for that corridor, and gaining input from residents about their preferences and concerns, will guarantee a result we can all benefit from.
Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? It is frustrating that state-level regulations supercede our laws and limit our leverage to make decisions or take specific actions to protect ourselves from any potential health and safety hazards resulting from O&G activity. And, a moratorium will just invite lawsuits and cost the town money, as we've seen in neighboring communities. We need to continue to pursue all creative options within the legal constraints to address the very real concerns that we have. Additionally, cooperation with neighboring municipalities to garner changes from the State will allow all of us to protect the health and safety of our residents. O&G has deep pockets, but there is power in numbers. A well thought-out plan that incorporates scientific data and feedback from residents and surrounding communities will help us to articulate our concerns to the state and create positive change.
How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the town’s infrastructure including roads, water and quality of life? Erie is rapidly growing and changing. This growth is part of what makes this town both exciting and challenging. We need to be mindful of current residents’ concerns as development continues. And, as our Town’s identity evolves, it is as crucial as ever to have a town body that truly appreciates and accounts for your feedback, so you can have a meaningful impact in shaping the future of Erie. Excellent communication with residents and setting appropriate expectations are fundamental to mitigating negative impacts associated with our expanding community. When new developments are approved in our planning area they are charged impact fees to pay for and offset additional costs and strains to our Town’s infrastructure. Also, the Erie Town Staff have worked hard to enhance our infrastructure over the years in order to stay prepared for the Erie of the future, such as the aforementioned wastewater infrastructure and treatment facilities. A related initiative I believe could be beneficial is finding innovative ways to reuse our Town’s non-potable wastewater in order to reduce overall potable water consumption, thereby lowering water costs for our residents and businesses. I will work to ensure our board does everything in its power to communicate and execute effectively, while directing all resources at our disposal, for the benefit of all Erie residents.
What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? As I referenced in question 2, above, Erie has prime locations available to grow its commercial business presence and increase our tax revenue. These are ideal opportunities for our Board to listen to our community and ensure we improve our financial status while carefully managing Town growth. There are excellent opportunities to learn from and collaborate with neighboring communities which face similar growth challenges, and incorporate best practices when implementing long-term solutions. We should continue to work with the Community, Business, and Town Staff to attract and situate businesses at strategic locations, such as the I-25 corridor. As our town grows, there are everincreasing opportunities for commercial business growth that will be presented, and we should diligently pursue the options which prove to be a good fit for our town.
What makes you the best candidate? As your Trustee, I will work to judiciously balance our small town charm with future development. Of all the candidates, I have shown the strongest track record of dedication to our community, long before the start of this election. I donate my time and energy because I am devoted to our vibrant community. I have a proven track record of positive collaboration with others. My time working as an attorney, serving on the Erie Planning Commission, and volunteering for numerous civic and charitable organizations embody my commitment to our community, and highlight a unique and unmatched skill-set. These qualities position me as the best candidate for Erie Trustee. And with your support I will continue to represent you and serve as your voice.
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Christiaan van Woudenberg Tell us about yourself: I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, grew up near Edmonton, Alberta, and have been a resident of Colorado for the last 30 years. In the 11 years since I moved to Erie, my family and I (fiancée Larisa, daughters Anika and Isobel) have seen the town’s population grow by 30%, have at times been painfully aware of the resulting increase in construction, traffic, and suffered the onslaught of oil & gas activities in our neighborhoods. After an undergraduate degree in molecular biology from CU Boulder and graduate work in computational biology at CU Denver, I ran my own software development company for 5 years before moving to enterprise software development. I’m currently a Sr. Staff Agilist at DigitalGlobe in Westminster where I coordinate software development best practices in our R&D group. I am a founder and current editor-in-chief of the Erie Protectors (visit us at fb.me/erieprotectors for more information) where I’ve been writing articles on the health & environmental impacts of unconventional oil & gas development, publicizing spills and industry accidents, and creating drone videos that are often featured on local newscasts. To relax, I put on my roller skates and referee for any one of a dozen roller derby teams in the Front Range, from a recreational league in Brighton to the Denver Roller Derby Mile High Club, currently ranked number 5 in the world. How do you plan to reduce the town’s debt of 82 million dollars? The town carries significant bond debt, in large part due to acquiring $32MM of water rights shares in 2005, and building a $22MM water reclamation facility1 that opened in 2011. After speaking at length with Town Administrator A.J. Krieger and Public Works Director Todd Fessenden, I am confident that the town is managing its debt to the best of its ability. The investment community agrees; the town’s general obligation bond rating was raised from AA to AA+ in February 20132, and two of Erie’s waterrelated bonds were upgraded from A1 to Aa3 in December 2017 3. Given Erie was “late to the game” to acquire these water rights, Erie homeowners’ water costs are high, this investment (including the current roll-out of smart water meters) will return increasing dividends in the coming years as neighboring towns incur rising costs to update their aging infrastructure. The water reclamation facility is already providing class 2 re-use water to irrigate parks and open space in the Colliers Hill development. More water reuse is planned with the facility’s proposed expansion in 20184.
See http://www.dailycamera.com/ci_17559415 for details.
See https://www.erieco.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/1759 for details.
See https://www.erieco.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2850 for details.
See http://www.erieco.gov/bids.aspx?bidID=220 for the RFP.
As Trustee, I will support continued, aggressive refinancing of the town’s debt to take advantage of our increased bond ratings to lessen the financial burden on the residents of Erie. A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact Erie and what do you plan to do about it? There are actually two I-25 projects; one already underway5 to expand I-25 from 120th Avenue north to SH 7 (complete by Winter 2019), and another6 approved to expand I-25 to three lanes in each direction from Johnstown to Ft. Collins (complete by 2021). The increased traffic from this expansion and large commercial developments (Ikea and Top Golf, for example) underscore the need for improvements on SH 7 and Erie Parkway. As Trustee, I’ll push wherever we can to accelerate timelines to improve busy intersections and expand the number of travel lanes for these corridors to increase safety and decrease travel times. The town has already identified a development area west of I-25 between Erie Parkway and County Road 12 as a part of its long-term commercial strategy. As Trustee, I’ll support developing this area to attract commercial development and diversify the town’s tax base. Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? Absolutely. Is that reasonable, or even possible? No. The Colorado Supreme Court struck down both Longmont’s voter-passed fracking ban and Ft. Collins’ fracking moratorium in 2016 7. Crestone is suing the Town of Erie over enforcement of its odor ordinance8. No major candidate for Governor supports Colorado Rising’s 2,500 ft setback initiative. Colorado Senate bills SB18-0489 , SB18-06310, and SB-06411 were all postponed indefinitely in the first days of the 2018 legislative session. The political will to enact and enforce such a moratorium simply does not exist. Having said that, there is no such thing as safe hydraulic fracturing. This practice will end when we as a society come to fully understand the health and environmental impacts; the permanent poisoning of billions of gallons of water, the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air we breathe, the contribution to global climate change, and the risk of leaks, fire, and explosions in the infrastructure required to drill, refine, and transport oil & gas. The work I’ve already done as a father has been to protect the heath and safety of my children. The work I’ll do as Trustee over the next years will be to drive this conversation forward with facts, research, compelling peer-reviewed publications, and a preponderance of the evidence. How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the town’s infrastructure including roads, water and quality of life? I spoke above about the town’s major roads and the issue of water. For me the issue of quality of life centers on preserving the history and character of Old Town. In 1995, Erie had fewer than 1,500 residents; I don’t think any of them imagined a town projected to have 29,500 residents by 2020.12
See https://www.codot.gov/projects/north-i-25/johnstown-to-fort-collins/NorthI-25/120thNorth for details.
See https://www.codot.gov/projects/north-i-25/johnstown-to-fort-collins for details.
See http://www.timescall.com/longmont-local-news/ci_29839751/colo-supreme-court-strikes-down-longmont-frackingban 8
Christiaan van Woudenberg - continued The current Board approved the Wise property rezoning13, favoring denser development over resident objections14. The Board circa 2013 voted to demolish the Morrison/Charlesworth House at 675 Holbrook St. to make way for a Town Hall parking lot.15 Members of the Erie Historic Preservation Advisory Board felt their recommendations were ignored, and even filed “injunctions and restraining orders against the destruction,”16 but were ultimately unsuccessful. As Trustee, I’ll work to protect and preserve Old Town’s historic buildings and small town charm. A thriving downtown district needn’t come at the expense of the residents that call Old Town home. What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? The developments at Nine Mile Corner and Four Corners are key to bolstering the town’s commercial tax revenue, but are challenged on several fronts. The protracted legal battle with Lafayette over Nine Mile has thwarted Erie’s attempts to develop the site; the courts will ultimately decide when the town be able to proceed. For the I-25 corridor, patience will be key to show commercial investors that density numbers are sufficient to support another King Soopers, Lowe’s or any number of smaller businesses. Given its proximity to Old Town, Four Corners will demand a more measured approach to commercial development; I’m very much in favor of a small grocer anchoring a number of independent retailers at this location. What makes you the best candidate? In a few words: courage, commitment, and common sense. The courage to stand up for those impacted by oil & gas operations within hundreds of feet of their homes; to speak up about the injustices in a regulatory system that dismisses 1,300 complaints to the COGCC without a single citation against an operator conducting business as usual. The commitment to make evidence-based, educated decisions about the many challenges and opportunities facing the Town of Erie in the next four years; to diligently research the various issues, seek expert advice, and encourage the rest of the Board to do the same to serve the best interests of the community I call home. The common sense to know which battles are worth fighting today, and which are best left for another day; to learn from the successes and failures of those that came before, and to understand that this road is not traveled alone. Together as a community, and working with the communities around us, we’ll make Erie great. My family and I are counting on it.
See http://www.dailycamera.com/erie-news/ci_30880444/erie-eyes-wise-farm-redevelopment-neighbors-gatheropposition 15
See A Brief History of Erie, Colorado: Out of the Coal Dust By James B. Stull, pp. 50
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Mike Evans Tell us about yourself: Over the past 50+ years i have resided within the Old town of Erie. Working for 20 years at the Rocky Flats Environmental Test Site along with teaching courses on Environmental Waste Management for Arapaho and Front Range Community Colleges. This experience created the ability and knowledge to assist with environmental issues that face our community. 2010 Retired Captain of Mountain View Fire Erie Station. State of Colorado Hazardous Materials Instructor for over 15 years. Erie High School Alumni
How do you plan to reduce the townâ€™s debt of 82 million dollars? Consolidate current debt into lower interest bonds and or loans. Pursue Government funding and grants to assist with new approved projects.
A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact Erie and what do you plan to do about it? The I-25 interchange for years has been considered for commercial development. This widening of this interchange will improve the access to the area and commercial development needs and shall be pursued to attract larger commercial and retail businesses to the area.
Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? Would support sanctions to limit the O&G development within our city limits and developments. The development of O&G needs to continue for the State and Nation economy, however, this development shall NOT impact our residence way of life.
How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the townâ€™s infrastructure including roads, water and quality of life? Would support sanctions to limit the O&G development within our city limits and developments. The development of O&G needs to continue for the State and Nation economy, however, this development shall NOT impact our residence way of life.
What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? Would support sanctions to limit the O&G development within our city limits and developments. The development of O&G needs to continue for the State and Nation economy, however, this development shall NOT impact our residence way of life.
What makes you the best candidate? Would support sanctions to limit the O&G development within our city limits and developments. The development of O&G needs to continue for the State and Nation economy, however, this development shall NOT impact our residence way of life.
Adam Haid Tell us about yourself: My name is Adam Haid and I would like to earn your vote for Trustee. I have lived in Erie with my family for 13 years. I am husband to Christina, father to Noah and Austin, and daily walker of Emmet and Oliver. We live in the Vista Pointe neighborhood. I graduated from Centaurus High School in 1994, received my Bachelors degree in Computer Science from Metro State University, and studied for my MBA at CU Denver. I currently work as a software engineer and product owner at NetApp in Boulder; a career I have been cultivating for 20 years. I am also the founder of Erie Singletrack Advocates; the organization that created the mountain bike trails you love to ride on the open space in Erie. I started this project in 2013 and, with the help of many volunteers, have worked hard to build a place for runners, walkers, and mountain bikers to flourish.
How do you plan to reduce the townâ€™s debt of 82 million dollars? Debt is a tool to help governments, businesses, and individuals increase their capabilities and credit rating. I use it in my personal finances and the town of Erie does too, but obviously the amounts involved are scaled in relation to revenue. The $82M debt the town currently holds was used to make long term investments in infrastructure improvements and, to a lesser degree, build the community center. It would not be good if the town forced taxpayers to foot the entire bill for a large water works project or amenity when those assets will be available and enjoyed by future generations. Debt was employed to spread the burden evenly and keep taxes at an acceptable level. The town of Erie manages its debt very well. Its credit rating has been raised by S&P and Moody's multiple times in recent history and Erie has taken advantage of that by refinancing; going from 100 million down to 82 million dollars in just five years. As Trustee, my contribution to this effort will be to place emphasis on servicing our debt payments first during annual budget reviews and to make sure staff takes every opportunity to restructure debt when more opportunities arise.
A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact Erie and what do you plan to do about it? I will work with town staff to hit the gas pedal on preparing the I-25 area for commercial and industrial development. We need to start courting new activity such as big box stores, car dealers, employers, and office developers to move in there and we need the infrastructure to support them as soon as possible. The sales tax we can realize from non-Erie residents in that area will go a long way toward helping our quality of life. If people spend money in Erie without moving in and using our services it is a boost for our cash flow which will increase the capital and operating power of our town. Our neighbors to the north and south are already taking advantage of the traffic and market opportunity on I-25. As Trustee, I plan to get moving on this project right away.
Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? A moratorium may become a necessity if the town needs to press pause and work out the kinks on the terms of operator agreements or some other contractual issue with oil and gas companies. Erie used a six month moratorium for exactly this purpose in the past. We would have to identify the problem to be solved and a timeline to solve it in before a moratorium is legally plausible. I will listen to the arguments for a moratorium from all sides and evaluate the legal risk before supporting it. Under the right conditions, I would support a moratorium. However, there are other ways to approach the challenges we have with oil and gas activity in this area. I will ask town staff to work in conjunction with representatives from neighboring towns and bring a united voice to the state capital to change the operating freedom of the oil and gas industry. As Trustee I will advocate immediately for this coalition and I will personally attend important legislative sessions where my voice can be added to those who are requiring change.
How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the town’s infrastructure including roads, water and quality of life? For infrastructure, it is important for us to stay the course set out in the Unified Development Code. The town has checks in place to protect it from the impact of residential growth on the water, roads, and utility needs of its new neighborhoods. New developments are not approved if they would “cause an undue burden on existing Town utility systems or community facilities” – UDC 10.5.5 paragraph C. Developers are required to pay impact fees so Erie can make the infrastructure changes needed to handle the growth. To keep and maintain our quality of life, I will focus on ensuring every neighborhood has a selection of complimentary services such as retail, parks, and schools to provide for resident’s daily needs and to encourage strong communities throughout town. I also believe our trails and open space differentiate Erie from surrounding neighbors and contribute greatly to our quality of life. As Trustee, I will preserve and grow our trail options and open space inventory.
What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? King Soopers was a big win for us but it is just the beginning. We need to encourage development that will bring more businesses to town. The Nine Mile, Four Corners, and I-25 areas are all prime real estate for future commerce. As Trustee, I will evaluate all available options to entice businesses to locate there. These might include an incentive in the form of tax increment financing, endowment, or other creative plans. I will also make it as easy as possible for small businesses to open up in Erie so there are minimal roadblocks or surprise fees during their startup activities. Once the commerce ball is rolling we are going to see businesses beating down our doors to serve the Erie area.
What makes you the best candidate? Over the last five years I have made a solid impact in Erie’s recreation and cycling communities by advocating for and building trails on open space. Those singletrack trails made Erie an outdoor recreation destination bringing folks in from all over the metro area; adding to their enjoyment of our town and increasing our retail tax revenue. The community I cultivated behind this grassroots effort enjoys volunteerism because of the healthy and rewarding experience for all involved. I will continue to increase my impact in Erie and show the entire town what is possible when we work together towards being the best place to live in Colorado. My passion for our town is boundless and I am looking forward to making it a healthier, growing, and balanced place to live as your next member on the Erie Board of Trustees. You can read my platform positions and get to know more about me on my campaign website adamhaid.com or Facebook fb.me/adamhaiderie.
MacKenzie Ferrie Tell us about yourself: I am a wife to my husband Charlie and a mother of two beautiful girls, Delaney (5 years old) and Avery (3 years old). I obtained my bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering followed by a Master's degree from the University of Colorado Boulder in Engineering Management with an emphasis on statistical process control and program management. After moving to Colorado from Michigan after my undergrad, I was blessed to get a job at Ball Aerospace as a Manufacturing Engineer. I have worked on many spacecrafts in my ten + years at Ball, such as; Suomi NPP, Hubble, LandSat-8, and LandSat-9. I love to run, hike, skiing, gardening, DIY home projects and traveling. The great thing is most of my actives I get to enjoy with my family and can't wait till my kiddos continue to grow and join me and my husband in many more.
How do you plan to reduce the townâ€™s debt of 82 million dollars? The Town is already doing a wonderful job retiring debt. Our credit ratings are always increasing, thus confidence in our finances are high. We have serviced certain debt obligations, such as the Police and Courts facility, for far less mils than originally anticipated. We will continue to closely monitor our finances, and constantly challenge town staff to find ways to save money and pay down balances. Examples of this include refinancing on debt obligations. Additionally, I will push for more retail and commercial growth. Establishing a solid tax base is key. This will allow us to keep property taxes low, and the requirement of building permits low as well.
A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact Erie and what do you plan to do about it? Any potential improvements along I-25 in the section adjacent to Erie are welcome. We are currently in the process of creating a Master Plan for the I-25 corridor of Erie which will take us into the next 5, 15, and possibly even 50 years of development out there. Carefully taking I-25 road changes into account is paramount.
Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? Moratoriums on Oil and Gas activity in the State of Colorado are very tricky. You must have justifiable reasoning, and that reasoning must support the length of time you are instating the moratorium for. That being said, if there was a justifiable reason, and the situation warranted it, a moratorium would not be out of the question. That being said, it cannot be for an unreasonable period of time that could welcome litigation from the industry. We must carefully look at the experiences of other municipalities that have had successful and unsuccessful moratoriums.
How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the townâ€™s infrastructure including roads, water and quality of life? As developments are put through the planning process, it is important to study and plan for any possible impact on infrastructure. That being said, I will always ask for the maximum road improvements that our code allows, as well as any amenities that can be added. With regard to water, it is my understanding that we have a robust water portfolio that will take us to a much higher build out; the planning has been and is there. I will support continued efforts in water projects that firm up the town's water portfolio. Quality of life related impacts are best addressed by recognizing the things that Erie residents love the most. Continuing to support a robust open space and trails portfolio, new and unique parks, quality housing, and places for people to shop are key. Additionally, as our town grows, ensuring our Police are well staffed and supported is critical. We are constantly recognized as being one of the safest towns in the State, and I want to ensure that continues.
What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? Retail and commercial growth in Erie is one of my primary focuses. We have proven that Erie is a great place to live, and housing development is booming. As we reach critical mass with population and traffic counts, Erie becomes more and more desirable to business. I am highly invested in the quality development of our I-25 corridor, Nine Mile Corner, 4 Corners, and Highway Sheridan & 7 areas as our primary arterial commercial areas. Working to entice much wanted and quality businesses in these locations will be a big focus. Additionally, I will continue to support our already thriving Historic Old Town district which as been making measurable increases in sales tax revenue year over year. Beyond all this, I recognize that primary employment is a major player in our future as a thriving community. We need to welcome small, medium, and large employees to the town. As we develop our I-25 plan, we must keep this in mind.
What makes you the best candidate? First and foremost, I believe there is a great selection of candidates this election. We all bring our own unique ideas, experiences, and perspectives to the table, and I am confident that there will be a solid representation for Erie residents once the election is complete. That being said, I want to work cooperatively with the Board and Town Staff to continue to push our Town forward. We are already in a great place all around, and I see the next 4 years as the ability to solidify our standing as the best place to raise a family in Colorado.
Liz Locricchio Tell us about yourself: I have lived in Colorado for 35 years, grew up in Louisville and graduated from Fairview High School. My husband and I moved to Erie in 2001 and instantly fell in love with the community. We have 2 wonderful boys, Cameron (9) and Kyle (6) who mean the world to me and are the inspiration for running for trustee. After spending nearly 10 years as an R.N., I decided to take the next step and recently attained my master’s degree from the University of Colorado and began work as a Family Nurse Practitioner, and currently pursuing a PhD is nursing. When I am not working, you can find me on the Erie sidelines cheering on my boys, running a race, camping, skiing, hiking, and enjoying everything our beautiful state of Colorado has to offer!
How do you plan to reduce the town’s debt of 82 million dollars? The term “debt” can sometimes be confusing, but speaking in financial terms, Erie is in great shape. Due to strategic planning and forecasting by town administration and our financial department, the majority of our debt is tied up in water bonds that the town has been very effective in selling and refinancing when appropriate. Diligent financial management has also allowed the town’s investor ratings to be increased from A-1 to Aa3 (Moody’s) and A to A+ (S&P). Our stellar bond ratings seem to reflect our current financial statements, which show our assets far out weighing our liabilities. This scenario shows very little concern in terms of meeting our current debt obligations and leaves us with a good amount of working capital that can be used to invest in other ventures that complement the needs and desires of Erie residents. Ideally, I would like to see our working capital used for commercial growth incentives that will also produce additional tax revenue (ROI), but after looking at our current financial state, I am confident that our debt is “healthy debt” and being managed appropriately, so not much I would recommend we change.
A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact Erie and what do you plan to do about it? The only I-25 project that I am aware of that involves widening I-25 is a CDOT controlled multi-phase plan that will eventually add lanes from Ft. Collins to Hwy 7, however, they have not shared many details, only an estimated completion date of 2075. Unfortunately, Erie has no control of this project as it is a state highway, and without more information, there is not much we can do as a town in terms of what impact it will have on Erie, if any.
There is however, talk of a project involving the I-25 & Hwy 7 interchange that seems to be in the more foreseeable future. This again is a CDOT controlled project, but from my understanding, Erie and neighboring municipalities have been involved with the planning process. If anything, I hope to see the town continue working with CDOT on these projects to ensure our needs are taken into consideration during the planning phase, as there is no doubt commercial development in that area, especially IKEA will have impact on our commuting residents. I think the planned Erie arkway lane e pansion and roundabout removal is a good e ample of things we can control and what can be done to alleviate the impact of future development and I plan to work with the town and fellow board members to implement similar strategies.
Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? This is a much more complicated question than a simple yes or no, but I guess the short answer for me is: it depends on the conditions. I would support a short-term moratorium (3-6 months) if it was the only tool we had that allowed the town room to increase our operator agreements and work with the state to enlarge our setback limits, but feel confident these things can be done without having to go this route. I just feel implementing a moratorium should be a last resort as I donâ€™t want the action to be misleading since it implies placing a ban on O&G activity, which is not the case. The last thing I want to do is fill some of our residents with empty promises or incite false hope. The truth is, a moratorium would not eliminate current O&G operations, and it would not terminate previously approved permits; it would simply provide a temporary solution for the town to address some long-term concerns. As an elected official, I believe in 100% transparency, and I want to be very clear on my stance that I am not against O&G operations, as I think they are a necessary commodity for both our personal and economic well-being, but feel there is certainly room for compromise based on valid health and safety concerns. Our current setback limit is just 150 feet, which I feel is way too close. In 2017, The town of Erie took a proactive approach to address setback concerns and paid an independent company roughly $175,000 to test the air quality of O&G activity at a 500-foot range. The test results concluded that short and long-term health effects were unlikely. In addition, Colorado Department of Health conducted tests of their own based on resident complaints, which produced a similar conclusion. Based on these test results and the testimony given to the board by their recently appointed environmental planner regarding necessary land mass needed for desired commercial growth, I feel a 500-foot setback is a fair and reasonable compromise to address resident concerns and to ensure we have room for future economic expansion.
How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the townâ€™s infrastructure including roads, water, and quality of life? I must say that after attending a few economic development meetings, I learned the town has done a tremendous job managing and forecasting the growth thus far and has been very proactive about planning for the future, specifically the planned infrastructure to accommodate up to 68,000 residents. Currently we have just over 26,000 residents and are expected to hit around 30,000 in the next 2 years. Obviously, traffic congestion, water and maintaining quality of life are a few of the more important topics, and I was grateful to learn of an approved initiative that involves developing better road access in and out of Erie, particularly adding lanes and eliminating roundabouts on Erie Parkway from I-25 to Hwy 287. I hope to work with town administration, board, planning commission and EEDC to continue to tackle our traffic congestion concerns by applying a similar proactive approach and finding alternative sources of transportation.
Liz Locricchio - continued In regard to water, we have a state of the art water treatment facility and truly enjoy having such clean tap water, however; I do not enjoy enormous price tag! At this point water conservation seems to be more of a necessity, because every rooftop we add raises the demand, which effectively causes the price to rise. Over the past few years our water rates have increased roughly 4% year over year. It seems they only way we will ever see the possibility of a price reduction or prevention of future increases is through conservation. I hope to see the board work with developers to require a certain amount of xeriscaping or drought tolerant landscaping and offer incentives to HOA boards, residents and commercial developers to do the same. I also think we need to revisit the annual tree coupon to include drought tolerant alternatives. astly, quality of life is a very important topic to me. I chose to live in rie because it offers my ideal community. e have great schools, wonderful teachers, our outdoor amenities recreation programs get better every year and our unique business models make it all complete. he goal is to retain and improve such things and I plan to a take a proactive approach when dealing with developers to ensure residential growth does not impact these and other items as new residents move in or building permits are approved. Dedicated open space is also something a feel strongly about and would like to see Erie retain its current ratio of 0.05 acres of open space per resident. This equates to 3400 acres (including parks and recreation) if our planned capacity is 68,000 residents. Furthermore, I would like to propose ease of access to all amenities, specifically by providing sidewalk and bike access to all outdoor amenities, recreation facilities, schools, and trail systems. There seems to be many areas where sidewalks are not connecting and ease of access is an important topic for me as I want to promote healthy living.
What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? There are many variables involved with the idea of increasing our commercial presence aka increasing commercial tax revenue. It is easy to say we should put this here or put this there, but the truth is that the town rarely controls what commercial we get. I do however, hope to see the town use some of our working capital or general fund to create incentives for commercial developers to target specific business models, so we have a better chance of getting commercial businesses that we actually desire rather than the first company willing to take a risk. We have some very promising commercial property on the I-25 corridor and 9-mile corner which we need to aggressively pursue sooner than later so we can compete for tax revenue with neighboring towns, balance growth, and increase job opportunities. However, the idea of job growth is also a complicated subject as business success can be contingent on housing options and ease of transportation. This is not such a major concern in these outer locations as transportation options and a lower cost of living tend to be in closer proximity, but this may pose a potential concern as we focus on developing inner locations like the 4-corners or expanding commercial zoning in historic downtown. Our $112,000 median income and high cost of living makes it difficult for potential blue-collar employees to live in close proximity to these locations. Basically, if our intention is to solicit blue collar business in these areas, then we need to at least make these areas accessible for these employees. Expanding public transportation services through Briggs and down County Line would be a step in the right direction to ensure business success and longevity. It would also provide an alternative transportation option into our downtown district where parking is often an issue.
Aside from commercial development and transportation, I think we have many opportunities to expand our recreation amenities and programs. As a parent, it can be frustrating when swim lessons and sports programs are full and your child canâ€™t participate. It is also frustrating when there is very limited availability for open swim, or open gym because the demand for these programs has consumed the entire community center. As someone who has coached a few sports teams, it is also apparent that we do not have enough practice space to accommodate the amount of participation. That being said, we are losing revenue and see huge potential to either expand our current community center or build a second location. Furthermore, we need more dedicated facilities for practice and would love to assist with erecting a youth sports complex similar to the sports stable in Superior, which would ensure our needs are met and where Erie can establish their own identity in the world of competitive sports.
What makes you the best candidate? As a longtime resident, I feel I have a good grasp on what other residents desire, and feel I am in a good position to advocate on their behalf. As a health care professional, a wife and a mother, I constantly find myself in a position where I am listening and looking for a solution. Critical thinking, analyzation, research and motherly instinct come natural, and feel I can apply these skills to see positive results for myself, my family and those who share the community. If anything, I am truly grateful to even have this opportunity.
Barry Luginbill Tell us about yourself: At the age of 21, I took a job in the warehouse of a local manufacturing company; 17 years later, I am the Global Operations Manager for that same company. I know the true meaning of fighting hard for a better future. I put myself through college — becoming the first person in my family to ever graduate from college. I am loyal and have stayed committed to serving the company and employees I work with. I am a committed husband to Jessica, my wife, and dedicated father and stepfather to our five children (Jackie, Ellie, Cayden, Grace, and Jordan) ranging in age from 18 to 2. I guide, with strength, both within my business and my family — not just because I am a great leader, but because I am a great listener. I graduated from Centaurus High School in Lafayette and have lived in the surrounding communities since 1993 and our family moved to Erie in 2016.
How do you plan to reduce the town’s debt of 82 million dollars? This is a good question. To truly understand how to take on our Town’s deficit, I believe it necessary to do a thorough investigation into where the debt came from, is it good debt or bad debt, and review the current plan of eliminating the debt. From what I have seen, I believe that in order for us to reduce our Town’s deficit without passing that costs onto residents, we need to focus on commercial development. If we try to reduce the deficit through increased fees for residential builders/ developments, we will see housing cost increase which in turn, will result in property tax increase. We need to push back on this approach because as our property tax increase, we run the risk of running out residents who have called Erie home for decades. Commercial development will allow our Town to pull in tax dollars from surrounding towns, minimizing the impact of our Town and residents. We have a unique situation with the I-25 corridor in that it’s desirable to businesses because of the access to multiple communities. Developing the I-25 corridor with commercial/retail real-estate will provide our Town with tax revenue far surpassing anything we currently see. Along with keeping our tax dollars in Erie, we set ourselves up for pulling tax dollars from surrounding cities. This needs to be a focus of our board and community if we want to see a significant decrease in our Town’s deficit.
A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact the Erie and what do you plan to do about it? I believe we need to have a forward-thinking board to ensure the convenience and comfort of our community, but in looking over this project, CDOT is reporting the lifecycle of this project is 57 years. I am not sure it benefits our Town to have our board focus on something that has not officially been labeled a project with a project scope and timeline of when the project will begin or is expected to be completed. Without knowing exactly what is planned, how it will impact our community’s access to I-25, I wouldn’t be able to comment on what I would “plan to do about it”. As more information comes out from CDOT on plans, we can then evaluate what we need to do to prepare and help our residents.
Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? This is a difficult question to answer because of the ambiguity and vagueness. Given the open-ended nature of the question, I am to assume this is a full-blown moratorium stopping all current and future activity. In reading this question that way, I cannot say I would support a full-blown moratorium on O&G activity in our Town. I believe that weâ€™re at a point that we need people working with these companies to discuss a plug/abandon and relocate process so we can get operations away from schools, residential areas, and areas that have negative impacts on our community. A moratorium on O&G activity will ultimately prolong the operations in our Town. We need the board to establish a presence to represent Erie at a state level, someone with the knowledge and background in politics and Oil and Gas so we have proper advisement of our rights and a proper course of action. My main concern at this point is ensuring the comfort and safety of our residents. To me, this means getting sites in residential areas and near schools, plugged, abandoned and relocated. This is why I must reiterate that our Town needs representation on a state level as a means to educating and advising the board and mayor on our rights and the proper course of action to address the concerns of our community.
How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the townâ€™s infrastructure including roads, water, and quality of life? I think we can all agree that our Town is quickly outgrowing our infrastructure and we need to address that. There is a reoccurring theme with these questions in that there is a need for commercial development to aid in growing our community in a strong and sustainable way. We are blessed to live in a Town that is one of the most desirable communities to live in and as a result, there is a high demand for rooftops. Without a strong commercial development plan and presence, it will be difficult for the Town to allocate money to infrastructure update, upkeep, and expansion without increasing the cost on the residential side. I believe we need to do our best to avoid increasing the cost to residential builders because using this method will drive up home costs, property taxes and as a result, will drive out longtime residents due to an inability to afford the increase in property tax. We currently have a very well planned out water system that will allow for growth and use of non-potable water, but that currently comes with a water price higher than neighboring communities. I do believe that we can use commercial development to aid in the deficit that would hopefully allow for a restructuring of how water is billed in Erie. This process will require an extremely methodical board and mayor, people that understand business, strategic planning, and most importantly, fiscal responsibility. are approved. What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? In order to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses, we need to add commercial businesses. Again, we have a unique opportunity to utilize the I-25 and 287 corridors to bring in significant tax revenue without putting stress on existing infrastructure and causing congestion within our Town. I would work with our board to maintain the integrity of our downtown through working with local small businesses to ensure they thrive and create a culture of community. This will require a board that understands the need for commercial development as well as protecting our small businesses, business owners, residents, and old town integrity. The trick to all this is, how do we bring businesses into Erie? I believe the first step is identifying what our residents would like to see. From there, performing a SWOT analysis to ensure what the residents want will thrive in our Town. I would suggest the board work with the planning commission to determine ideal locations and determine the best course of communication with the businesses we want. We would then need to market our community, possibly offer incentives to businesses, i.e. discounted fees and permits, making it a desirable process for them as well as our Town. All the while, ensuring weâ€™re doing everything we can to continue supporting our local businesses and ensuring they flourish.
Barry Luginbill - continued What makes you the best candidate? I believe that for a person to be a successful Trustee, they have to be a good leader, a leader that is able to make hard choices when needed. A leader that understands the need of self-sacrifice in the pursuit of enhancing our community and residentâ€™s lives. A Trustee needs to be a unique type of leader, one that has the ability to show empathy for those we represent; one who is able to earn respect by first giving respect. In addition, this person must possess a clear vision for what our Town needs and desires, they must be courageous, possess a high level of honesty, humility, focus, and INTEGRITY. Through my experience as a global business leader, I have learned what it takes to be this kind of leader. I understand the need to possess these characteristics and combine them with the ability to plan strategically all the while, encouraging and facilitating a team-work approach. Erie is my home, it is where my wife and I desire to retire and where we want our kids to return to after college to raise their families. The desire to build on whatâ€™s made Erie what it is today, implement new ideas to increase the success of the Town and our desire to live our lives to the fullest in Eire is why I know I can make a difference in the role as Erie Trustee
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John Ahrens Tell us about yourself: Thanks to ELIFE and Trisha Ventker for giving the candidates an opportunity to be heard. My name is John Ahrens and I am running for a trustee position in Erie Colorado in 2018 I have called Erie home since 2002 and Colorado home since 1997. My family and I have lived in the same house and my wife and I were married next door in our local park. Rhonda Ahrens and I have 2 children a daughter Sydney 12 and son Jack 13, soon to be 14. I truly thank them for allowing me to run. I have a back ground in working both for corporations and owning 4 different businesses 2 locally, one in San Diego CA and the other on the east coast. Education and the support of our community is extremely important to me. Currently I serve on the St Vrain Valley School District board of education as a director and representative of our Erie schools. I have developed relationships with many legislators and continue to build more so to have a voice and represent our community.
How do you plan to reduce the town’s debt of 82 million dollars? The deficit question has been one developed by past governing boards and administrations of Erie. There is no question that the plan was for a strong future. A plan towards development, where housing has clearly been vital. We are currently attracting great businesses, one of which is King Soopers which has increased our taxable base 12%. We have a new Boulder Community Urgent Care Center, satellite of Boulder Community Hospital coming to town, Large business is taking notice. We must continue to build more jobs for Erie. We have a highly educated population filled with technologist, and engineers: over 90% college educated. Our high school has a program devoted to Aerospace and relationship with companies like Ball Aerospace an important component of success. We need to promote the highly skilled Erie, the place to work and live. Attracting corporate America with quality of life, strong schools, and a safe place. Selling the small town feel and vibrant community is our lightship. Erie has quick easy access to Denver, DIA and is surrounded by other vibrant communities. There is no doubt in my mind building relationships with corporate appeal is Erie’s future. I have already spoken with some.
A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact Erie and what do you plan to do about it? We need to incorporate growth into Erie’s plan. The goal for Erie is utilizing that as an access point to draw travelers in. I realize we don’t have the prominent position but 52 and 7 both are arteries to 25. There are multiple opportunities to promote 25 expansion as quick exits on and off. Companies will find attraction for access for DIA, Denver, Fort Collins and so forth.
Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? Currently state laws outweigh a towns right. A calculated approach needs to be recognized. We have families that work and support themselves and have done so for generations. Our landscape is dotted with wells and pads around Erie and Weld County. We also have current energy needs. Safety and health must be represented and remain front and center. Erie and the towns around us have tried to vote a moratorium only later to be overturn in the courts. Erie has put in place noise and odor ordinance with success. I support initiatives to preserve town quality of life. Schools, hospitals and homes need adequate distance away from wells and oil pads. I have testified at the capitol to extend distance from schools and would like to see land boundaries and not buildings be the point of recognition. I support alternative means to accomplish goals to meet energy needs. There are advocates for oil free by 2030. We see direct evidence that more jobs are being created in the solar, wind sector then ever. That is the direction of progress in a sustainable energy future. That is what I will continue to support. I will also be front and center with our O&G industry working together putting in place good neighbor policies. Health and safety matter.
How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the townâ€™s infrastructure including roads, water and quality of life? Residential growth has already made significant impact to our town. Several thousand homes have already been given permits and developer agreements are currently in place. Those agreements come with obligation to provide roads, water and utilities. Town and developers both take on that responsibility. Our water treatment and water waste should be adequate but pipelines continue to be required. We have to have a discussion about the size of our town . Master plan now is for 60,000 plus, do we need that and can we truly sustain a quality life with those numbers? I would like more town, board and planning input. Maybe 45,000 is enough?
What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? The tax question is answered within my deficit answer. Tax base through additional corporate focused business that utilize towns talented population. Quality of life and high caliber of schools provide attractive opportunities. I have talked with a few interested industry partners in the past. My impact will be much different with a seat on the board then that as a private citizen.
What makes you the best candidate? I care about our community. I enjoy working towards a best case scenario and I have the drive to make this the best community possible. I may not be alone in that but I can tell you my belief. My life has always been guided by a principal of giving back but in recent years I have deemed this of greater significance. I promise if elected a consciousness informed process will follow, leaving biases and personal gain out of the decisions, making a resolution to come to decision for the greater good of our community. That is my guarantee.
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Ira Liss Tell us about yourself: Personal Life I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, second of three sons, and for half my life believed I’d live in NYC forever, like my parents. It took a long-distance romance to leave my NYC studio apartment (two blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge on Henry Street), and move to a trailer on the edge of a horse ranch, in the shade of Ponderosa Pines, six miles south of Flagstaff. Even with the crashing end of that relationship, I will always remember my hikes at the Grand Canyon, the spooky night sounds of elk trumpeting their mating songs, sunsets on Sedona's red rocks, and tasting carrot cake at Macy's Coffee Shop. My Communications Career I’ve had a 40+ year career in graphic design, advertising, marketing, writing and corporate communications – most of it, self-employed, serving as one-person ad agency, design firm, consultant and strategist for a wide range of clients – large and small. For 11 of those years, I worked on staff for CU-Boulder as communications specialist, promoting events, academic programs, designing graphics, posters, brochures, web pages, art directing and coediting an alumni magazine, writing articles for university blogs and newsletters, interviewing students and alumni, plus photographing and videoing events and performances for online content. My Performing Arts Career For more than 30 years into the present, I’ve worked gigs as a performing artist, pianist, singer, songwriter, actor, MC, poet, improviser, teacher, director, wedding ceremony writer & officiant, and talk show host. (https://www.facebook.com/theiralissshow/) Erie, Family and Me In 1999, I discovered Erie when I met Karen (the best friend who I married), a resident of Erie of more than 40 years. Through Karen I am blessed to have two adult stepchildren plus a 10-year old grandson with whom I have the pleasure of walking to Erie Elementary School in the morning. I’ve lived in Erie’s old town for more than 14 years and know I am lucky to call it home.
How do you plan to reduce the to n’s debt of 82 million ollars? The debt of 82 million dollars, as I understand it, is being paid down out of Erie’s current income. Not so long ago, I’m told the debt was substantially larger, so we seem to be on the right track. I do not see that more action is needed beyond our continuing to pay our bills, and pay it down. Similarly, homeowners with mortgages pay down their home loan, month by month, and see the amount owed decrease as well.
A project is already approved to widen I-25; how will that impact Erie and what do you plan to do about it? I donâ€™t see that we need to react or respond instantly or immediately. CDOT approval of a project to widen I-25 does not mean work begins instantly. There could be years between further approvals, funding, budgeting, engineering, contracting and completion. So, there is likely to be time to work with Town staff, discuss contingencies, anticipate traffic patterns and make plans as more information and data becomes available. Meanwhile, I am aware that newly widened roads can provide traffic relief for a limited time. Eventually, wider roads attract more business and residential development, which, in turn, bring more traffic that can likely undo the original benefit of widening the road. Welcome to our imaginary world of growth without limits. Our collective desire for economic growth leads to building more housing, growing more business, creating greater revenue, more income, more cars, more roads â€“ all of this, a cycle building on itself. And, to our benefit, it is possible that increased traffic will attract more retail stores and other business to Erie. And, have the positive consequence of increased sales tax revenue for the Town plus increased local employment. It is also possible that increased traffic can bring frustration to Erie residents who face longer wait times at intersections, and possibly increased commute times. (Nobody would ask for, or welcome such consequences.) These are issues and developments to keep an eye on, stay informed about, anticipate, discuss and make reasoned decisions about. These are the tasks and responsibilities of the Board of Trustees, Town staff and government in general. I believe I will bring intelligent, objective, thoughtful reasoning to the table, regarding these issues.
Would you support a moratorium on O & G activity in the Town of Erie? Yes, I would support a moratorium. And, whether we can accomplish this may very well be a legal matter. The State of Colorado has barred or discouraged local municipalities from limiting or restricting the oil and gas industryâ€™s fracking projects. And, the Colorado Supreme Court, so far, has ruled in favor of that policy. I believe that local communities ought to be able to manage the locations, scale and size of industrial operations that can potentially endanger, harm, or affect the health of residents, children, our homes, water supply and land. Unfortunately, the options or choices for Erie, on our own, may be limited. Perhaps we can collaborate or coordinate with other towns and communities whose residents are like-minded regarding further O&G development. By our working together, maybe pooling our resources, we could find a way to through this.
Ira Liss - continued How will you address the impacts of residential growth on the townâ€™s infrastructure including roads, water and quality of life? This question describes in a nutshell the challenges that come with growth and the day-to-day, meeting-to-meeting business of Erie's government, staff and elected officials. Managing, planning and responding to growth is an ongoing process. Residential growth creates the need to build or improve new infrastructure. Such growth, ideally, also provides the funding for the infrastructure it makes necessary. My understanding is that residential growth also provides a substantial source of the funding that makes Erie a beautiful place for families to live and grow â€“ with our sports fields, summer programs, a beautiful library, recreation center, public parks and more. Managing growth is a balancing act. I don't think there is a simple, single solution that can be expressed in a few words. As trustee, I would listen to, and discuss solutions with colleagues, residents, Town staff and other various stakeholders who are affected by growth and/or involved in its management. By our seeking common ground, we come to consensus, arrive at solutions, and perhaps, compromise. In this way, we move forward.
What are your plans to increase tax revenue from commercial businesses? I think this question refers to the sales tax that Erie and communities everywhere collect and rely upon to pay for parks, streets and services. Sales tax is a vital part of the cash flow that helps fund the various programs that benefit families. The reality is that owners or managers of retail companies locate their stores where they believe there is sufficient population, customers or traffic to make their stores profitable. In Erie, what we must do and are doing (of course, this is an ongoing process), is continuing to maintain and grow an environment where people want to live, work and shop. Our growing population will then attract retailers and businesses that will create a flow of sales tax, salaries, fees and other sources of revenue. Such businesses will attract more people who want to live here, which attracts more business that serves more residents. (As many of you know, this is sometimes called, a "virtuous" cycle, something to be desired, as opposed to a "vicious" cycle, something to change or repair.) As trustee, I will work to see that our virtuous cycle continues rolling along, a cycle benefiting our residents. While growth occurs, we must be watchful that we are not causing negative consequences that could keep people, business and retail stores away. I will do my best to be mindful regarding these issues.
What makes you the best candidate? I'm sure that among the pool of candidates running, you will find several "best" candidates. I would like to consider myself among them. Part of my reason for saying this: I pride myself on being a good listener and an excellent communicator.
(Communications was my profession for more than 40 years. And, as a performing artist and talk show host, one might say that communications continues to be my profession and passion.)
I am able to comprehend what many might see as complex, difficult or abstract issues and turn them into something conversational, that most people can understand, relate to, and respond to. (Plus, I'm able to bring some lightness and a sense of humor to the conversation.)
I've demonstrated these communications skills for the wide variety of clients I’ve worked with – in technology, academia, pharmaceuticals, non-profits and more. I refer to my 40+ year career in design, advertising, marketing and more; most of those years being self-employed. Given how distant, impersonal or deaf many citizens believe their government(s) to be, a good listener and communicator could be just what the Board of Trustees and the town of Erie might need. In addition, I have seen, through the experience of loved ones and my own, how arbitrary, irrational and unfair authority can behave towards those in a weaker position. By "authority," I refer to management behaviors in government, business and academia. As someone who has played the role of nail to another's hammer, I believe I can be sensitive to government's ability to be destructive, arbitrary or lacking in awareness. In this way, I bring something constructive, humane and sensible to the Board of Trustees and the town staff. In that regard, I also have the experience of having been an active member of Colorado's state employee union, COWINS, head of its political committee, and a former President of the Boulder Area Labor Council. So, I am aware of some of the dynamics and subtleties of working relationships. My communications experience, together with my having lived in communities large and small over my lifetime (NYC; Flagstaff, AZ; Evergreen, Denver and Erie, CO) make me a candidate with unique talents to serve the people of Erie, Colorado.
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This issue showcases the Erie, Colorado candidates running for mayor and the three seats for trustee.