Greenwood Village election proves that much is the same but something changed

BY FREDA MIKLIN
STAFF WRITER

All six incumbents who were running for the GV city council were re-elected on November 2. Libby Barnacle, Dave Bullock, Judith Hilton, Anne Ingebretsen, Dave Kerber and Donna Johnston were all endorsed, along with new candidates, Tom Stahl and Paul Wiesner, by current Mayor George Lantz and his two immediate predecessors, Nancy Sharpe and Ron Rakowsky. 

Tom Stahl will join Judith Hilton in representing GV District Four on the city council, replacing Tom Dougherty.

Nearly every person who has served on the council for the past two decades, including seven of the eight just elected (everyone but Judith Hilton), has first been appointed by the sitting council representatives to one of the city’s three major boards and commissions. Once elected, most incumbent GV council members are re-elected to the three additional two-year terms permitted by state law, although term limits only apply to consecutive terms. There is no limit to how many terms one person can serve in GV as long as they sit out for at least two years after every eight consecutive years they serve.

Paul Wiesner will join Dave Bullock in representing GV District One on the city council, replacing Jerry Presley.

In 2021, seven candidates ran who did not come from the city’s boards and commissions and were not endorsed by any incumbents or the current or former mayors. Some issues they named were climate change and sustainability, transparency and citizen inclusion in council decisions, real term limits, and strongly supporting the police while following state law about holding police accountable. Those seven candidates received 3,618 votes (34%) of the 10,718 total votes cast in this race from the 6,045 GV residents citywide who voted. 

On November 2, GV district one maintained its distinction as the most active voting district in the city; nearly 60% of the 3,340 active voters participated in the election. Three-term incumbent Dave Bullock ran a joint campaign with Paul Wiesner, who was first appointed by Bullock to the city’s Board of Adjustments and Appeals in 2016, then moved to the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2018. Wiesner and Bullock received twice the number of votes that their next closest opponent, Victoria Aguilar, received and one and one-half times   what the other new candidate in the race, Mathew Schulz, received.

Outgoing GV City Council Members Jerry Presley (left) and Tom Dougherty (right) were presented certificates of appreciation for their city council service by Mayor George Lantz (center) at their last meeting on November 1. Presley, who has served six terms, and Dougherty, who has served two, were eligible for re-election but opted not to run again. Photo by Freda Miklin

In district two, where only 35% of the 3,433 active voters voted, a common occurrence because there are hundreds of people in district two who live in apartments and who mostly don’t vote, six-term council incumbent Anne Ingebretsen received 758 votes and her running mate, Dave Kerber, received 637 votes. Bob Doyle, an active environmentalist who has donated his time to the city for that purpose, was the only person who challenged them. He got 467 votes. Doyle, like Kerber and Ingebretsen, is a longtime resident of Greenwood Hills, the neighborhood that has produced every city council member from district two for as long as anyone can remember. It is also the neighborhood from which nearly all board and commission members are appointed.

In district three, with 2,873 active voters, one-term incumbents Donna Johnston and Libby Barnacle received 883 and 914 votes respectively, in a higher-than-usual 51% turnout race. Candidate Paul Baumann got 519 votes. Kendall Kappler received 423 votes.

GV district four was the only place where there was a close race. Two-term incumbent Judith Hilton, who is Council Member Libby Barnacle’s mother, got a commanding 744 votes from the 1,439 voters out of 2,869 who were eligible that participated in the 50% turnout election. Tom Stahl got 671 votes, while challenger local attorney and history teacher Jeff Reiman, received 657 votes, only 14 shy of Stahl’s total. The other candidate in the race, Jeff Leitner, received 464 votes. 

Greenwood Village is unique among area city councils in having every candidate from its four districts, each represented by two people, run every two years. In nearby Centennial, which like Greenwood Village, has two representatives from each of its four voting districts, city council members serve four-year staggered terms, thus only one council position from each district comes up for election every two years. When former GV Council Member Tom Dougherty, who chose to step down in 2021, tried to get the city council to consider moving toward a similar system last year, the idea was quickly dismissed by other council members.

Voter registration in Greenwood Village is 30% Republican, 25% Democratic, and 45% unaffiliated, based on the records of the Arapahoe County Clerk, but the city council election is non-partisan so it would have had no impact on this election. The new GV city council will be sworn in and begin their two-year terms on November 15.

fmiklin.villager@gmail.com