BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Centennial voters will elect four council members in the November 5, 2019 general election, one in each of its four districts. There will not be a mayoral election this year, as the next election for mayor is not until 2021.
There will be no issues on the ballot for the City of Centennial. The only issue on all ballots in Arapahoe County will be an issue submitted by the Board of County Commissioners, regarding raising property taxes to fund a new jail, commonly called a detention center, as the county has significantly outgrown the facility that was built in the late 1980’s. In addition, both school districts in Centennial – Cherry Creek and Littleton –will have elections for school board members.
Additionally, in two special district, serving Foxridge Subdivision and Willow Creek Subdivision, there will be issues on the ballot in regard to fences in those subdivisions.
Interestingly, in each of the city’s four council districts, there are exactly two candidates, and in each a female candidate is pitted against a male candidate. Only one district, which is District 1, the western-most district, features an incumbent running for re-election (Candace Moon).
In District 2, more or less close to the center of the City of Centennial, the incumbent, Carrie Penaloza, a first-term councilwoman, is not running for re-election, and two more-or-less novices are competing for her seat. Residents who want to learn the Centennial district in which they live should go to the Centennial website, www.centennialco.gov. There is a map of City Council districts on the site.
The rundown regarding candidates for the Centennial Council follows (in alphabetical order by districts).
Candace Moon is the only incumbent running in the election. She has served on the council for almost four years, having been elected in the 2015 election to a four-year term. The wife of former council member Vorry Moon, who served previously to her election, she recently retired from a job as a supervisor with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Moon said that her retirement has “freed me up to do more for the city.” She said her strengths include following the development of the city from the time it was created in 2000 and 2001. She said a strength that she has is a great familiarity with the budget of the city, which is the most crucial concern of the council. She added that she has a comprehensive understanding of “how local government works.”
Moon has had a virtually perfect attendance record, even attending by telephone when she has been out of town, which has not been often.
The one-term council woman was critical of opponent Ron Phelps, for his resignation from the Centennial City Council when he was elected to an earlier term of office after serving only six months of his term and then moving out of state. See the next candidate write-up, which follows.
Ron Phelps, in response to the criticism of Moon, said that he was forced to move away due to the recession of 2008, which “greatly impacted” his family, that he took employment in Wisconsin when he lost his job here, and added that he said he would serve out his full term this time, if elected.
Originally from Colorado Springs, Phelps now works for the Denver Water Board, within its “learning and organizational group.” He and his family moved back to Centennial from Wisconsin in 2016. The first time he lived in Centennial was in 2003 to 2010.
Phelps said he feels that his desire to serve Centennial is one of the reasons voters should cast their ballots for him. He considers it to his credit that he “put my hand in the air” to run for the council seat. Also, he believes that he has the ability to figure out what is important and not focus “on something not relevant.” He said his “professional background and experience in the community” is a plus.
In an email, Phelps said that he believes that he believes in more limited government than does the incumbent. He said that re-electing Moon would be “more of the same.”
Brian D. Beatty, candidate for the District 2 seat open due to Penaloza not running for re-election, pointed to his experience on the Centennial Planning and Zoning Commission, which he said has “taught me a lot” about Centennial and the operation of local government. He said his service has allowed him “to understand the city better.”
In addition, Beatty said he is a “good listener” and will listen carefully to his constituents, if he is elected. A resident of Centennial for “about 13 years,” Beatty said he “grew up in Colorado Springs.”
An avid aviator, Beatty recently, over the past several years, started building an airplane in his garage. He has recently moved that airplane to Front Range Airport, in Watkins east of the metropolitan area. He is now finishing it. Beatty said that, when he lived in Atlanta, he managed a “small private airport.” He calls aviation “a hobby.” In addition to building an airplane, he also is a pilot.
A transplant to Colorado from Atlanta, where he was “born and raised,” Beatty worked in that city before moving to Colorado in 2006. He is an auxiliary board member of the Wings Over the Rockies organization, an entity that teaches and exposes children to the aviation industry. The organization also operates a museum. Beatty has a Masters Degree in real estate and construction management from the University of Denver (2010).
Running against Beatty is Christine L. Sweetland, who moved to the district in 2001, the same year as Centennial was incorporated. Sweetland said the city “is at a great crossroads” and she wants “to be part of the decision process for what Centennial will be in the future.” She said her experience as a Certified Residential Appraiser who works with lenders will assist her in serving on council, if she is elected. Sweetland said she “really wants the opportunity to listen to people in the community” and also to “reach out to the community.”
Richard Arlen Holt is a candidate in District 3, which is the most spread-out district in the city and is somewhat in the middle of the city.
A native of southern California, Holt was graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a degree in business and works for a company commonly known as “NCM,” with an official name of National Cinemedia. Holt moved to Centennial in 2001, the same year that Centennial became a city.
Holt said his experience on the board of the Foxridge Improvement Association has helped him prepare to serve on the City Council, and also that he believes his work in the tech industry is a good background for serving the city. Holt said there “are issues [in Centennial] requiring technological knowledge.”
Also running in District 3 is Rhonda Livingston, who said she has lived in the home she currently lives in for 25 years, so she lived there both before and after Centennial was incorporated. Livingston said her experience in serving on the Charter Commission, when Centennial was becoming a home rule city, has helped her prepare to serve.
Livingston also said that she attends council meetings and is a graduate of the Centennial 101 program, which is a class that lasts for several weeks. In the class, students learn about Centennial’s formation and the issues in the city.
Her interest is “not in any one thing,” Livingston said. “I will listen [to constituents] and try to understand” the issues they bring before council. She said she has “watched” the council “for many years” and has “been having a good time talking to people” about the issues in the city. She concluded with the statement, “It’s not broken, so [we should] stay on the same path.”
Anna Burr, who lives in Fox Hill Subdivision, is an attorney who believes she can make “fair decisions.” She also believes her background as an attorney is relevant to service on the council, because attorneys are used to “providing logic and reason to issues.”
Burr received her law degree from Chicago Kent Law School 11 years ago, and has lived in Centennial for seven years. As the mother of “two young children,” Burr said she wants to have a part in keeping the city on track.”
Burr’s opponent is Don Sheehan, who said that he has lived in his home since 1992, prior to Centennial’s incorporation. There are “growing issues throughout the metro area,” he said. Additionally, Centennial is “a very safe community,” and he wants to continue that “same level of safety.” Sheehan described himself as “very fiscally conservative” and said he wants to ensure the same level of responsibility” for spending tax dollars wisely.
The city is “well managed,” Sheehan said. As a contract council/city manager entity, it outsources some duties, which is “a great way of doing things, “since it allows “experts to do some” of the duties of a city. He also said that Centennial “has developed great relationships with other entities,” including many special district, but also including the Colorado Department of Transportation and the City of Aurora, and that such cooperation should continue. Sheehan pointed to his experience as a member of the Centennial Senior Commission as being a good background for serving on council.
Most of the candidates said they will be going door-to-door to solicit votes.
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