Opinion: A Dysfunctional Arvada City Council? — A Letter to a Friend

by John Kiljan

I don’t like writing opinion pieces.  It detracts from the news articles I also write for the CLRC.  The whole purpose of writing articles for the local neighborhood association is to give our members the information they need to form their own opinions and to make their own choices about City issues. 

Arvada City Hall Ballot Box

Arvada City Hall Ballot Box

Still, I get a number of people asking me who I think they should be voting for in the Arvada City Council elections.  Fair enough.  I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the each of the five candidates running for office and thinking about who would be best for the community.  And I try hard not to make judgments about the candidates’ qualifications until after I have finished hearing their views and posting their campaign interviews. 

I also have a big worry:  That worry is that the City may well return to the days when things didn’t go very well in Arvada’s City government.  I’ve been around Arvada long enough to remember those times and the problems it caused for our City, for its infrastructure, for its development, for its reputation as a place businesses would want to invest in, and as a community that people would want to move to and raise a family in. 

As one former Council member put it, “It took us years to live down that history and to build one of the best cities in the metro region.” 

Those thoughts are contained in a recent letter I sent to a friend who asked me which candidates would be best for the City Council.  It’s copied here (below).  It contains a recommendation for two candidates and a recommendation not to vote for two others.  Readers who are undecided and have still not mailed in their ballots (or dropped them off at City Hall), may find it helpful to them as well. 

The CLRC neighborhood association is impartial and does not endorse candidates for elected office.  This posting only contains my own personal views.  There are no “bad” candidates running for office — only some candidates better than others. 

The CLRC website at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org welcomes opposing views and opinion articles. 

It’s your City — please vote!

–John Kiljan, Arvada resident, District 3

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From: “Kiljan, John” <jpkiljan@yahoo.com>
To: . . .
Sent: Saturday, October 26, 2013 9:19 PM
Subject: Re: City Council Vote
Saturday night

Hello Lynn,

As to who would be the best replacement for Shelley on the Council, keep in mind why I recommend someone is more important than who I recommend. 

I have to say that I am worried that Arvada will return to the days when we had a dysfunctional City Council.  In the past, Council members have spent a lot of time fighting with each other and [did not get] a lot accomplished for many years. 

That was the case back in the early 1990’s when we had Council members [who] were suing each other — or threatening to sue, pooling money to hire a private investigator, ignoring the Colorado open meetings laws and getting injunctions from the courts.   

This was not a productive time for Arvada.  The 72nd Avenue extension, which was able to reduce the traffic on our part of Ralston Road by one-third (about 10,000 cars a day), was delayed for years because of the infighting. 

We nearly lost Two Ponds as a National Wildlife Refuge during that time — again because of the infighting.

We also lost talent.  City Managers didn’t want to hang around a City that was often in the local, State or national news over its difficulties. 

Ted Terranova seems to have been a large part of that dysfunctional episode and [he] still carries a lot of that baggage with him. 

But I had heard he had mellowed over the years.  Also, he has the backing of the Mayor and that carries a lot of weight with me.  However, my recent experience writing up his interview tells me he has not mellowed at all, and he is ready again for the bullying politics of those years. 

And I couldn’t help but wonder about the Mayor’s backing when Mr Terranova talked about requiring so many levels of government review for any new municipal developments, that I was left wondering if any developer would be willing to consider Arvada a business-friendly place to make an investment. 

He also does not think highly of our neighborhood association — another strong negative.  And, I’ve done at least 15 candidate interviews for the neighborhood association, and he is the only candidate who has threatened legal action against me if I did not write what he wanted.  I’ve also heard complaints about his aggressive door-to-door campaigning. 

Thanks to Ted, I have a John Marriott sign on my front lawn.  John has taken the interest and attended our CLRC meetings.  He also went out and circulated the recreational survey forms for us when we were gathering data for the Radian report on recreational needs. 

If you’d like a Marriott sign, I have an extra one that I can drop by your house tomorrow.

Just to follow up, Justin Vicory also made a good impression on me.  He is well informed on Olde Town issues, and has good connections there, but he is less well informed on other District 3 issues (eg, Independence Street, local rec needs, Ralston Road safety).  Although, he does have a good write-up explaining why he supports the Walmart development in the Triangle on his campaign website. 

He also comes across as being a pretty smart guy.  His campaign seems to be underfunded and I don’t think he has a chance to win this go around.  But I do hope he stays interested in City government and expands his horizons to other issues across the City, so he can run again in the future.

I have made campaign donations to both Mr Marriott and Mr Vicory.

In the At-Large race, I have the same Council dysfunctionality concerns.  Don Allard has wealth of knowledge about the City and how it works and what the big issues [the City] will be facing in the future [are].  He is still as sharp as a tack despite his age.  He’s pretty conservative for my preference, but over the years, I’ve found his long view of issues to be a comforting reference point for [the] new issues the Council considers.  And he’s friendly toward the neighborhood association. 

I simply don’t see how Mr Di Giacomo would be an effective Council member for his first two years on the Council — perhaps much longer.  He is simply too [uninformed] about too many issues that Arvada will be facing and how local government actually works.   He is the only candidate that has not served on any City board, commission, ad-hoc group, etc, and that lack of experience is just too scary when I think of the things he would have to face as a Council member. 

He has also come across as being very much against a replacement for the Fisher Pool or locating a recreational facility in the Triangle.  It’s hard to image anyone walking our District and still being that far out of sync with the wishes of the local residents who live here. 

Still, he is intelligent and has some useful professional skills.  I hope he will prove himself and continue his interest in community affairs after this election and broaden his support beyond the “anti” groups he is aligned with now. 

That’s probably more than you wanted to read, and keep in mind these are all just my personal opinions, but feel free to share this email [with] anyone you think would be interested. 


PS — You might find the second half of this history of the Two Ponds project to be interesting reading.  It talks about Council infighting even before Joanne Conte joined the Council.  — J


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2 Responses to Opinion: A Dysfunctional Arvada City Council? — A Letter to a Friend

  1. Letter to [the] CLRC
    Monday, November 4, 2013 3:28 PM
    Mark as Unread Flag this message

    “Joseph Schwarzkopf”

    Dear John and CLRC:

    Please Vote Di Giacomo for the At-Large seat and here is why: Council dysfunctionality is a major concern for all of us. This begs for a solution only a fresh face and new ideas can bring. The current catharsis is proof it’s time for a change. A conservative with a long view of issues is exactly what stymies current issues from resolution. Perhaps a new perspective by an enthusiastic newcomer who is not enmeshed in the “good old boy” network is exactly what our council needs!
    Ascenzo Di Giacomo is not afraid to engage citizen groups outside city council and this is precisely why we need him to represent our city. He has stated that he welcomes looking at all options for replacing the Fisher pool and this confirms his ability to look for creative solutions and he understands close community involvement.

    Comments about his inability to grasp the issues and the inner working of council is baseless and disrespects his professional experience and knowledge of the issues. Lets rebuild a council that lacks real leadership and is at times dysfunctional and bring a fresh new perspective to our city council! Mr. Di Giacomo is extremely intelligent and approachable and represents a new vision for Arvada.

    Joe Schwarzkopf

  2. steve teets says:

    i’m am sadden what has become of arvada in certain area’s i grew up in arvada i still like the town, but it is heading for certain unnecessary problems if you don’t start having better priorities and also i still have family in arvada. i still like arvada still a nice mostly with a few big problems and some dumb decisions that was made in the past that has ruin part of arvada. let’s re-examine on your priorities plus government need to listen to the community and quit wasting money. but i do believe you still have a better city council than greeley colorado where i live at the present time. The greeley city council is almost like obama adminstration which is horrible and the worst federal government we ever had and greeley city council is as bad infact it is the worst city council greeley ever has had that i know of and been here for 27 years and i’m over 55. so what does that tell you please don’t become another greeley city council or our federal executive branch.The greeley city council is ruining greeley, if greeley city council doesn’t watch it will end like detroit, mich bankrupt. just remember government is for the people by the people and of the people. remember city government suppose to be public servants. I pray that God will Bless the Government and residents of Arvada, plus City Government that they was put there by God and the people.

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