by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
Good morning, Arvada! Late Tuesday night election returns are showing a surprising victory for Nancy Ford in northeast Arvada, firm support for urban renewal and economic development in three other races, and a tight election in west Arvada. Late voting predominated in this election.
This post is mostly commentary. If you don’t like political commentary – and who can blame you considering what we’ve just been through in this election cycle – now is a good time to stop reading.
In what is being viewed as continuing public support for Arvada’s urban renewal efforts, for economic growth and for the City’s current management, voters turned down challenges by three opponents asking for a complete turnover in City governance – Dave Chandler, Carl Campanella and Dave Palm.
A total of six opposition candidates ran on a variety of platforms: those included the need for Council diversity, that the current Council was overly supportive of Arvada businesses, and that the Council was too collaborative when reaching agreement on what was best for Arvada’s future.
Most significantly in this campaign, the Council and the Mayor had been criticized for being too pro big business and for supporting urban renewal projects in the officially blighted areas of the City. Under Arvada’s urban renewal program, developers are rebated part of the new property taxes they generate as a way of financing new housing and retail projects they would not build otherwise in blighted areas.
Those projects included allowing the big-box retailer, Walmart, into the Arvada Triangle shopping center, building higher-density apartments adjacent to Olde Town (Park Place and Solana), and supporting the construction of Arvada’s first modern hotel, a Hilton Garden Inn, near the heart of Olde Town.
The three reform challengers, Chandler/Campanella/Palm, ran on a platform that would have either ended or drastically cut back urban renewal efforts in the City. By State law, the Mayor appoints (with the consent of the Council) the members of the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA). Voters rejected all three candidates by a wide margin.
Other campaign issues included local recreational needs, growing congestion on arterial roads on the west side of Arvada, higher-density development around Arvada’s new commuter rail stations, construction defects laws, a lack of retail outlets in west Arvada, and the needs of an aging Arvada population.
There were plenty of traditional kick-off events, yard signs, newspaper ads, and door-to-door campaigning in this election. But, in what may be a sign of what is the future of City elections, the reform campaign was waged largely on social media outlets. Those outlets went beyond the usual candidate campaign websites and, in addition to the candidates’ own Facebook pages, the candidates and their supporters were active on a half a dozen Arvada Facebook groups and community pages.
The need for diversity also played a role in this election. The Council was also criticized for being all-male, all-white and having backgrounds mostly in business or technology. Two candidates challenged that image: Kathy Drulard (At-Large) and Nancy Ford (District 1). Neither candidate ran on a better-gender platform. But Ms Drulard aligned herself with the reform candidates and Ms Ford did not.
Nancy Ford’s win was a surprise because she is new to Arvada politics and her campaign was underfunded and seemed and somewhat disorganized during most of her campaign. She only set up a campaign website two weeks before the election using an in-kind contribution by former Council candidate Ascenzo DiGiacamo. She spent less than $2000 on her campaign otherwise.
But Ms Ford has been active in Arvada’s sustainability advisory committee (that’s Arvada’s eco-thingy that promotes things such as, outdoor activities, recycling and eco-friendly housing and businesses) and was selected to be a member of the City’s second citizens’ advisory committee for capital improvement projects. That latter appointment provided its members with a wealth of information about how City government works and gave its members a voice in helping to decide what its construction priorities should be in the coming ten years.
The closest election was for Council District 4. Incumbent Councilor Dyer ran unopposed during the last election, but in this campaign he had opposition from David Jones who (like Nancy Ford) is politically unknown in most of Arvada. Mr Jones only had a 230 vote lead over Councilor Dyer last night, but that is a lot in this race and it now looks like David Jones will prevail in this election with a 2% voting margin. District 4 is the subject of a separate CLRC article referenced below.
The Jeffco schoolboard election/recall campaign that was on the same City ballot may have influenced the turnout for this election. With the current returns, the County is now estimating a 43% county-wide turnout. That’s a bit high for an off-year election but it is about the same as two years ago when we last had a City Council election.
Both of these elections were non-partisan and no party affiliations were identified on the ballots. None of the Council candidates are known to have taken a position on the school board recall issue.
What is different about this election is that voters seemed to want to be more informed and they voted late – very late. I thought I was bad about waiting till the last minute to decide who to vote for, but, apparently, I had a lot of company.
The late decisions on who to vote for are reflected in our website “hits” on RalstonCommunity.org. Here is a graphic showing the number of reads we experienced during the last days of the election. Almost all of the views were for our election articles. We are a small neighborhood association and normally we only get a couple of hundred views for each CLRC article. Overall, we had about 15,000 views for our City Council election coverage since the ballots first arrived in the mail on October 14th.
If you are interested in the school board election, here is an Arvada Press summary from last night:
Unofficial Jefferson County results as of midnight on November 3rd were:
There is no waiting period for the new Council members to take their seats. The new Council will be sworn in at its next City Council meeting on November 9th (unless I’m mistaken).
Again, this article is mostly commentary and does not represent the views of all the members of our neighborhood association. Opposing commentary on the election results are welcomed. Readers may post them in the “Comments” section of this CLRC article.
[Disclosure: This commentator has made campaign contributions to Marc Williams, to Bob Fifer, to Kathy Drulard, to Jerry Marks, to Mark McGoff, and to Bob Dyer. All contributions were made after the CLRC candidate surveys were posted. As with past Council campaigns, contributions do not necessarily mean these candidates were voted for by this commentator. ]
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
Adams County votes (in far east Arvada and includes the Mayor, At-Large, and Districts 2) are not included in this article’s numbers. Adams County will have about 400 additional voters. The Jeffco vote totals may change with some late ballots. To find out the most recent information from Jefferson County, go to this link:
For more about the unique challenges faced by Arvada City Council District 4, here is a brief article to read:
“The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community does not endorse candidates for public office. However, we often post candidacy announcements, press releases, interviews and questionnaire responses for those running for office. And we encourage our members to actively support whatever candidates they choose during elections.”
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from the Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.
You can read all of our articles on our main website at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
November 4, 2015