BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Around 40 Englewood residents showed up at The Barnhouse Tap at 4361 S. B...
SUBMITTED BY THE CITY OF ENGLEWOOD U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering a free, seven-month in...
BY FREDA MIKLIN GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER On July 24, two inches of rain pounded the city in less than an hour, re...
City Manager Eric Keck announced his resignation from the City of Englewood at the conclusion of the Sept. 4 r...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Around 40 Englewood residents showed up at The Barnhouse Tap at 4361 S. Broadway for a candidate forum for the Englewood City Council on October 5. It was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. Four of seven members of the city council will be elected in a mail ballot, coordinated election with Arapahoe County on November 5. Representatives will be elected to represent Englewood districts 1 and 3, along with two at-large representatives. All those elected will serve four-year terms.
Incumbent Othoniel Sierra, who won a special election in May 2018 to fill the unexpired term of Joe Jefferson when he became a municipal judge, is being challenged by teacher Monica Johnson and Bobby Ray Jennings.
Sierra said he had run in 2018 on a platform of environmental sustainability, affordable housing, and city center redevelopment. He named infrastructure, especially storm drains and “keeping the neighborhood character” as current issues.
Johnson, a teacher, said she was running because “we haven’t invested in preventing problems with our infrastructure.” She said she wants to invite family-friendly small businesses to locate in Englewood and if elected, plans to listen to the citizens.
Jennings said, “I feel that the city council is failing the people of Englewood in the storm systems, the alleyways, and the overall operation of the city. They say they don’t have the money.” He believes that the city could get federal funds to address its problems, but didn’t say which funds or from what federal agency or program they would come.
Asked about how they would help the homeless, Sierra pointed to an ongoing study Englewood is undertaking on the subject, along with Sheridan and Littleton. Jennings said that some homeless “don’t want help. What should we do with them?” Johnson said, “The homeless are people and we need to support them.” She agreed with Sierra that “we need to study the reasons for homelessness”
On the question of whether Englewood should be a sanctuary city, Jennings said he couldn’t answer. Sierra said he was okay with it because Englewood police should only have to do their own job. Johnson said, “The undocumented are part of our country and they contribute to our community. The census is coming up. If they aren’t counted, it will hurt the city.”
On redeveloping the Englewood Civic Center, Sierra said it is in the early stages and city council is discussing it. Johnson agreed that that was a good thing. Jennings said, “I haven’t made up my mind.”
Laurett Barrentine, a 25-year resident who survived a recall attempt in 2018, is being challenged in her bid for a second four-year term by Joe Anderson. Both candidates focused on the infrastructure challenges facing Englewood, where a woman drowned in a flooded basement apartment in 2018 during a storm. Anderson asserted that “the previous city manager (Erik Keck, who resigned dramatically during a city council meeting a year ago) proposed a long-term infrastructure plan that the city council did not adopt.” When Barrentine disputed that assertion, saying “We do have a 20-year (infrastructure) plan and we’re funding it,” Anderson pushed back saying, “It’s my word against hers. No 20-year plan has been adopted.”
On homelessness, Barrentine said the city had to work in collaboration with private not-for-profit agencies and that more than half the affected people have mental illness of substance abuse issues. Jefferson said that homelessness is not a consistent state for some people and they can be helped by positive mentoring.
On the subject of whether Englewood should be a sanctuary city, Barrentine said, “No. Sanctuary city means we don’t enforce that law.” Jefferson responded, “We should look after our neighbors. We don’t have the resources to enforce federal law.”
Current Mayor Pro-Tem Rita Russell is seeking re-election to a second term. Challenging are Steven Ward, a six-year veteran of the city’s budget advisory committee, and John Stone, a small business owner who was homeless from age 15 to 21 and is now finishing a master’s degree. There are two open at-large seats.
Russell said she has held numerous coffees and town halls during her first term and works well with everyone. Ward said that “future focus is the purpose of my campaign.” If elected, he will use his knowledge of the budget and “I will ask the citizens what they value.”
On homelessness, Russell said the county is in a better financial position to address the problem and that the city has to partner with others because it “can’t pay for it alone.” Stone said he was working on an independent program to get the homeless into apprenticeships to become tradespeople. He said he finds candidates among those who are already working. Ward pointed out that he agrees with Johnson that the homeless are people and added, “We (the city) have hired co-responders to go with the police to assist the homeless.”
On infrastructure, Russell said that stormwater fees are going to have to be raised to systematically replace the infrastructure, but she did not agree with some who had talked about quadrupling current charges. Stone said, “My favorite bar had to spend $10,000 after a flood last year.” Ward said, “There is not enough money to fund the city’s capital improvement plan” and the city council “has to ask citizens for the money” to fix its parks and storm drains.
On the question of Englewood being a sanctuary city, Russell said, “We need to enforce the laws. Ward said, “Let cops be cops. Let’s enforce things that affect our quality of life.” Stone agreed, saying, “Police are here for our safety. We don’t want people to be afraid to call them for crimes like domestic violence.”
For additional information about voting in Englewood’s municipal election on November 5, go to www.englewoodco.gov/inside-city-hall/election-information.
SUBMITTED BY THE CITY OF ENGLEWOOD
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering a free, seven-month intensive program that provides existing small-business owners tools, training and networks to turn action into growth. Emerging Leaders is a “street-level MBA” style program suited for Colorado small businesses that have been in operation for at least three years, have an annual revenue of at least $250,000, and have at least one additional employee other than the owner. Classes begin in May 2019 and continue through November 2019. The program provides 40 hours of training, which is divided over 13 sessions. All sessions will take place at Englewood Civic Center.
The Emerging Leaders curriculum includes developing a three year strategic growth plan and over 100 hours of professional, specialized workshops and training while working alongside experienced mentors, local leaders and experts from the financial community. This copyrighted program curriculum is known as StreetWise Steps to Small Business Growth. Past Emerging Leaders program graduates saw 70 percent in revenue growth, $83 million in new financing and over 65 percent of participants realized the creation of new and retention of existing jobs. The curriculum will provide small-business owners an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience through a combination of executive education, practical tips based on “real-life” business experience, and advice from business leaders that can be readily applied to their business. The five main modules covered throughout the program are:
Space is limited and interested applicants are encouraged to apply early before the March 15 deadline. Applications are accepted online at interise.org/sbaemergingleaders and will be reviewed for eligibility by March 22.
BY FREDA MIKLIN
On July 24, two inches of rain pounded the city in less than an hour, resulting in overwhelming flooding near South Broadway. A 32-year-old woman was trapped in a basement apartment at 4650 S. Acoma Street and she drowned before rescuers could reach her.
Several Englewood residents have been continuously pressing their city government ever since, wanting answers about why it happened. They have argued that the city was on notice, as early as 1999 that the storm drainage system in the area where the flood occurred was dangerously inadequate.
Englewood has 500 full-time and 400 part-time employees. Its city council is comprised of seven members, four of whom represent specific districts and three of whom represent the city at-large. The mayor and mayor pro-tem are chosen by the council from among its group. There is a city manager in charge of day-to-day operations. District 2 representative Linda Olson, elected in 2009, currently serves as mayor and representative at-large Rita Russell, elected in 2015, is mayor pro-tem. Unlike some others, this city council operates with 100 percent transparency. All its meetings and study session are live-streamed and available to watch online anytime.
On Sept. 4, as a result of a security concern, all individuals attending the city council meeting were required to pass through metal detectors. One member of the council chose not to attend. At the end of that meeting, four-year city manager Eric Keck unexpectedly publicly announced his resignation.
The Villager reached out to the mayor, mayor pro-tem, and two other members of the city council whose names had come up in other matters, to get their thoughts on recent events in their city. We asked about the departure of the city manager, the security issue on Sept. 4, and their response to citizens about the circumstances that led to the July 24 flood that resulted in a fatality.
Olson said that she was surprised and very disappointed that Keck left, but appreciated the awesome job he did and wished him well. She had no comment on the security situation that gave rise to the use of metal detectors on Sept. 4. Olson said that, during 8.5 years on city council, she had not been made aware of any past concerns about inadequate storm drainage. She said that the council was trying to study the problem now to determine what should be done. Olson said that “cities all over the metropolitan area and around the country are dealing with infrastructure issues.”
Russell is seen by many as a quiet voice of reason. She told The Villager that she was not surprised at Keck’s departure because she thought he had been looking for another position for a while. She appreciated his service. Regarding the security event, Russell said that she and others had received an email from a citizen who reported overhearing a conversation that could have been interpreted as threatening. Her understanding was that Englewood police officers investigated and determined there was no credible threat, but Russell allowed that something could have occurred subsequently that changed that conclusion. The mayor pro-tem said that the safety of all citizens, including city council, is paramount. Regarding the flood, Russell said that council is asking for $171,000 to study the south Englewood storm drainage infrastructure to determine the best way to fix it.
District 3’s Laurett Barrentine told The Villager that she was surprised, but not shocked at Keck’s departure. She said, “I am sad. I thought that if he faced the concerns and issues that were coming forward, he might have reached a new plateau in his professional career.” Regarding the security situation on Sept. 4, she said that she was surprised to see the metal detectors because Russell had told her there was no credible threat and she had not been contacted by Olson. About the flooding, Barrentine said that the city had had a special election in May (to fill the seat of Joe Jefferson, who was appointed presiding municipal judge of Englewood), she herself was currently being subjected to a recall effort, and the city manager had just resigned. She said there was a lot going on, but the problem is extremely important, and the council would act on the situation as soon as possible.
Cheryl Wink was elected representative-at-large in November. She saw city manager Keck as a “wonderful guy who was being blamed for everything.” She felt that people didn’t give him a chance to do his job and that he wanted to help the city move forward. Wink did not attend the Sept. 4 meeting because she “wanted to bring to light that it was important that all of the council get the same information if there is a potential threat.” She said that the city manager told her that he was not aware of the history of flooding in the area where the fatality occurred. Wink said that the city council has been reeling since the incident. She said they were gathering the necessary information to determine what to do. She believes that it will be a very expensive fix, but it must be done to protect the residents.
It was unclear whether the metal detectors were going to continue to be used at city council meetings.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city of Englewood has 34,407 residents, a median housing value of $238,400 and household income of $50,184. Its population is 85 percent Caucasian and includes 2,040 military veterans. Just over one-third of Englewood residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and 10 percent are under 65 with a disability. The bureau estimates 17.7 percent of Englewood residents live in poverty. The city’s website says that the average size of homes in Englewood is 1,237 square feet with an average of 3.68 people living in them.
City Manager Eric Keck announced his resignation from the City of Englewood at the conclusion of the Sept. 4 regular meeting of the city council. His exceptional and innovative management style is attractive to both private and public entities, and recently Keck was made an employment offer he and his family could not refuse. Mayor Linda Olson asked Keck to reconsider, however, he believes the opportunity is the best use of his skills and talents.
When Keck was hired, he had the vision and problem-solving skills that were just what was needed for the post-recession time. Keck’s energetic leadership infused the city with new vision. His people skills with city staff, residents, businesses and other metropolitan leaders had been more than admirable, according to Olson.
Adding that his interactions with the council have been consistently reliable, honest, collegial and deeply informing. More importantly, he has endeared himself to the residents of Englewood. “Knowing that he would take the time to meet with anyone on any issue given me, as mayor, I had the confidence that our city was in caring hands. His service in both time and energy has set a high bar for anyone to follow.
“Keck leaves a great legacy in several crucial areas of the city’s functions. Early on, Keck reorganized the city structure for personnel and cost-effectiveness. He reduced overhead while enhancing management sophistication and delivery of service. He worked tirelessly to enhance the level of safety services throughout the city, ensuring high-level fire and police infrastructure, capacity and outstanding personnel.”
As for hiring a new manager, the Englewood’s City Charter leaves the authority for the selection process to the city council which will use various search methods to hire a replacement.
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