DAVE CHANDLER — CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR
October 14, 2011
by John Kiljan
Background: This interview was held September 19th and is one in a series of interviews with candidates for the Arvada City Council. The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community offered each of the candidates an opportunity to review a list of local CLRC issues and concerns and to comment on them in an informal discussion. The candidates were also invited to talk about any other subjects they thought were important. The interviewers were T.O. Owens and John Kiljan.
The Candidate: A Wyoming native, Dave Chandler is married with two children and has been a resident of Arvada since 1991. He has been a work-at-home dad during that time operating a newsletter editing business, a resume service and as news source aggregator for Newstex. He has a history degree from Metro State College graduating Summa Cum Laude. He is a frequent blogger and has had opinion articles published in the Denver Post’s YourHub.com.
Dave has been active in various civic groups and efforts including the Sierra Club, the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge, the Northwest Quadrant Feasibility Study, and the Green Party of Colorado (although he is now unaffiliated). Mr Chandler has twice run for the U.S. Congress as a third-party candidate and has run for an Arvada City Council seat three times in the 1990’s. He received the endorsement of the Arvada Sentinel during his last run.
On Communicating with the City: It’s difficult for people who are off on their own to go down to City Hall. Communicating with the City becomes much easier if you are a part of an organization that helps you do that. An active homeowners’ association or citizen’s community group makes all the difference in the world in knowing what’s going on in the City.
I don’t know what the City can do to facilitate more citizen input. I understand running a website is complicated, but it seems like the City’s website has declined a bit in the last few years.
On Ralston Road: Anyone who drives the central part of Ralston Road should notice how narrow it is. Obviously, it needs to be improved, but funding, planning and scheduling are all going to be contingent on each other.
You don’t want to make a lot of improvements now and then have to come back and tear it out. The government’s work isn’t always easy and a lot of things about the corridor have to be figured out first. At this point, I would put a high priority expediting improvements that are needed for safety reasons. And that may mean that we’ll have to start figuring out budgets and begin obtaining rights of way.
So the timeline could be two or three years for that. It depends upon the budget and it depends upon on how long it takes for the plans for the corridor to be developed and what they will look like when finalized.
Yes, I’ve walked it and there is no doubt that something has to change. I would put the road on high on the list of the things the City needs to do. We can improve some walkways, and curb and gutter, before we decide what we have to do with the medians and the turn lanes.
On the Redevelopment of the Triangle: Urban renewal can be beneficial but urban renewal authorities can also end up being a scapegoat for those who don’t get what they were hoping for out of a project. My experience from running for office in the 90’s is that people can often be surprised when they hear what an urban renewal project is going to. I suspect the way to improve the urban renewal process might be to get the authority to be more open about their plans and include more citizen input in their long-range planning.
That being said, I’m not in favor of high-density housing in most places in Arvada. I don’t think that fits in the character of the kind of community that we are. Some people don’t like hearing Arvada called a bedroom community. Perhaps it is not fair, but in some ways it’s also a good description. Most people don’ t work here, but they do live here. Not having a lot of high-density housing in Arvada is part of what makes us unique.
I would not be in favor of having a lot of high-density housing in the Triangle area. That brings us to the Arvada Gardens. I think they should stay in the Triangle. And I could support low-density housing that could use the gardens as a focal point. An example would be The Hills at Stanley Lake Park. I think it’s really cool what they are doing there. There is room in the Triangle for us to have apartments and, preferably, town homes and still have plenty of room for needed businesses.
I’m also reluctant to support high-density housing in the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) districts near Arvada’s Gold Line stations. But we’ll have to see what happens. At best RTD is talking about the line being complete in 2016. I think they are being optimistic. RTD still has to come up with funding, so I think there is time. It’s okay to make some preliminary plans but it’s best to wait and see what development offers we get. If I were on the Council, that would be my kind of go-slow see-what-happens approach.
In the Triangle, I am having trouble visualizing how many residential units we will get in the development and how they would fit together. It’s nice to think about these things — sort of like playing SimCity — but a lot is going to be dependent upon what happens with the economy.
Despite the end of the recession I think the economy has worsened. When I’m going door-to-door, I have to watch myself so I don’t too overwhelmed by the stories of hardship I’m hearing. It’s hard hearing stories of people losing their jobs and going through long unemployment. It’s important to have plans for urban development, but condition of the economy is why we should have a go-slow approach
On Recreation and the New Central Park: The final plans for the new park at Garrison Street haven’t been released yet and I’m not sure how much in the way of recreational facilities will be included in the new park. I know that there will be no new buildings and the current ones there will be removed. But recreation is primarily an Apex responsibility, but we should work with Apex. The reason we don’t have a pool today is simply because the voters turned it down and we’ve got to listen to the will of the voters.
We have the two field houses going up on Oak Street. I’m not certain if we needed to get two field houses instead of just one, but I’m not running for Apex and I wasn’t part of that decision. But I still don’t understand why they weren’t able to put more recreational structures in the new Garrison Street Park. We need to get recreational services to the people living on the east end nearer to Olde Town. I’ve also wondered whether we could combine the Arvada Gardens with other recreational facilities.
Planning for parking along Ralston Road has to be somewhat theoretical. The need for parking will depend upon the businesses that come in. I don’t want to lose the KMart, but it is nice not having big-box stores filling the east end of the Triangle. Of course, we will have parking inside the Triangle near the shops. In the narrow sections of the corridor, I’d say forget it when it comes to on-street parking. We don’t have that kind of parking there now, so why would you want to change that?
Available parking along the corridor also depends upon how much right of way we need to buy. It doesn’t look like you’d have to take all that property. For most of the lots, there should be plenty of room between the roadway and the buildings.
I’ve been in Arvada for 20 years and there’s always been a hotbed of active citizens here. A great unsung hero of our community was Tony Bosacki. He’s since passed away. He fought for years to get this floodplain situation resolved. He was great man but a thorn in the side of many. He live right here off of Independence Street and fixing the flood issue was one of the causes of his life. I think they had just decided to do the project when he died. He was just a self-educated miner, but he was also one of the smartest people I had met in my life.
I missed most of the trash-hauling goings on, but I was able to read the City’s report. Obviously the City Staff put a lot of work in developing options for the Council. But things like this can become symbolic of the politics of our time. Even when I was growing up in Casper, Wyoming I remember people being possessive about their trash haulers. There are a lot of solutions to the problems of having so many haulers going down our streets, but the issue quickly became a war between free marketers and sustainability. Too bad — I think there was room for a middle-ground solution.
On Neighborhood Associations: We had a political organization here in the 1990′ s when I was involved in Arvada politics. It was called the Arvada Good Government Committee. It wasn’t a neighborhood association but it was a city-wide citizen’s group. Organization does help. We found that by being organized we could pass on a lot of information onto people about the City. But organizations like that, and even homeowners’ associations, are hard to keep together because they take so much time and effort.
I know the City has been trying to facilitate neighborhood organizations, but I don’t think that has always been successful. For a neighborhood association to be successful it has to be a sustained effort. The way Arvada is structured we don’t have a central core area, we’re all spread out, so the homeowner groups and citizen organizations become even more important.
On Neighborhood Stabilization: Declining neighborhoods are a tough issue. A neighborhood may appear to be in decline, and in some outward ways it is, but we have some philosophical things going on too — especially in a tough economy. Sometimes the less expensive places to live may be the only places that people can afford to live.
As long as properties are up to codes and regulations, you might have to let them be. People have to have a place to live, and they can’t always afford the nicer places. It’s also a property rights issue. Is it the City’s place to tell owners that they’ve got a building that’s in terrible shape and it has to be torn down? I’m not sure that it is.
I would classify some the apartments across from Brooks Drive nearer to Olde Town as being in decline. What to do about them is an interesting dilemma. I don’t know whether not those buildings are owned locally or by someone out of state, but maybe we could call those owners and look for ways to make things better. If you can’t, well sometimes there is only so much that government can or should do.
On the issue of left turns being blocked off on Ralston Road, it’s awful hard to say how people will be affected before that actually happens. Some users may not be affected at all, while others might be. I do like it when you can make a left turn from a center turn lane rather than stopping in a through lane.
On Independence Street Traffic: When I was running for Council in the 1990’s, I had a lot of fans who were upset about it back then. It’s always been a problem. A lot of people were upset when they took out the light at Independence and Grandview because it served as a traffic calmer. And it’s dangerous to make that left turn onto 57th at the bottom of the hill. I got the map again today. It’s too bad that Independence is not a good arterial like Kipling is. Part of the problem is that a driver has too go so far east to find another through street if they don’t take Independence. Independence is a nice little street and it would be nice not to have people regard it as a main street, but even my wife likes to cut over from Kipling and use it.
I haven’t been on the City Council for 12 years, but I think I could be a great contributor to moving this city forward. Mostly because I don’t think I have all the answers, and because I would be asking questions. Everyone else may assume they already know what to do about an issue. But, you know, that’s the problem that often happens in government. You get involved in it, and you learn the process and you have people that learn to tell you what you want to hear. That’s why I think it would be good to have somebody new, especially as mayor, asking questions that haven’t been asked in a long time,
Arvada is a town of about 110,000 people, but it can still have a small-town feel to it, and I think that is why people want to move here. I don’t want to see that changed. I really don’t. It’s one reason I’m a little more skeptical about the Wadsworth corridor plan, some of the plans for Olde Town and the plans for the Triangle. Besides, we don’t want to become a Boulder.
The character of Arvada is really important to me. It’s quirky. A lot of the streets don’t go through. I know that drives a lot of people crazy. “We’ve got get that grid.” I think that’s cool and it may be one reason our crime rate is so low — it’s not that easy to come in here and rob people and then get out,
That’s why I think I’d be a refreshing mayor. For issues that come up I wouldn’t be jaded or afraid to ask questions. I’d have a totally different perspective on things. We need to get the City Council opened up. You’ve seen my flier. Some of the Council members have been around for a long time. Some of that’s good because you need to have an institutional memory, but you can also overdo it,
The conventional wisdom was that you have to go out and campaign with older folks to win an election. But, you know, what were finding out is that a transition is already starting to happen. Arvada is an affordable housing market for a lot of new families, and I think we’re already starting to see that transition from people who have been here for a long time to people those who are in their 30’s and 40’s and who will soon turning 55.
We shop at Goodwill. When you have a teenage daughter, it’s not very hard to come home with an armload of clothing. But I ran into a lady the other day who was upset that Goodwill was there. She thought that stores like that attracted the wrong element. I think she’s mistaken. Thrift stores serve an important community need. You’re aware that City declared a moratorium on thrift stores here not so long ago. It’s the same with check cashing facilities. I think with the economy the way it is, you pretty much don’t want to turn any legitimate business away.
The world is changing. Three to four dollar a gallon gasoline is here to stay. People are going to have to be able to transition to different kinds of jobs, and they are not going to be able to travel as far every day to get to those jobs.
We have to get over our biases for home-based businesses such as people who operate a small plumbing shop out of their garage. I think that is going to be the future whether people like it or not.
I’m sorry to disagree with my opponent, Marc Williams, but I don’t think that Candelas is the future of Arvada. I don’t think that Arvada should be too invested in that project. It’s already out there and we can’t change that. But I worry that it will end up being a big money pit for the City and its taxpayers in the future.
In the meantime we have real business development problems to concentrate on such as the Triangle and the core business area in and around Olde Town. Candelas is so far out there it is going to have to be a commuter-based development. It’s a suburb within a suburb. As far as our city limit, Indiana seems to be Arvada’s logical western boundary. I never understood why the City annexed all the way out there.
I believe there are some in this election who are running with the support of their political party. I don’t like to have Democrats and Republican influencing a non-partisan race. We’ll all be better off if our Council elections stay non partisan.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
Dave Chandler has an election website at
Dave is also an active blogger and has personal website with an extensive list of archived articles on public issues. Here’s the link
and his contact information is
Email: Dave@MayorDave.us or Dave@davechandler.us
You can also view a short video of all the candidates for mayor at this link:
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