BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Greenwood Village Mayor Ron Rakowsky’s 350 closest friends and family gathered at the Doubletree Hotel on Orchard Road in Greenwood Village to thank him for his 17 years of service to the city as an elected official (eight on city council and nine as mayor) and wish him a long and healthy retirement.
Distinguished guests in attendance were Margaret Rakowsky, the mayor’s wife of 53 years, their son Robert Rakowsky, their daughter Catherine Bollin and son-in-law Kip Bollin, Ron’s brother John Rakowsky and his wife Cathy, and Ron’s brother Tom Rakowsky and his wife Daria.
Jim Sanderson, GV’s city manager from 2002 to 2017, who also served five years as public works director and five years as police chief, came out of retirement to talk about how Rakowsky had reached out and grasped the reins of regional leadership in his years as GV’s mayor. Rakowsky chaired the Mayor’s Caucus, chaired the Arapahoe County Justice Coordinating Committee since its inception in 2004, served on the executive board of the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), the board of Peace Officers Standards Training, as director of the E-470 board representing DRCOG, and on the South Metro Fire District’s chief selection committee. Ron Rakowsky, by his sole effort, far expanded the reach of influence and high regard afforded to the eight square miles and 16,000 souls who comprise the City of Greenwood Village.
Rakowsky was instrumental in getting the $66 million Arapahoe Interchange project funded and completed, Sanderson told us. He was personally involved in bringing crucially important large corporations to GV, including Charter Communications, the city’s largest employer, CoBank and Fidelity Investments, Inc., also in the top tier of employers, and AMG National Bank, which occupies a highly visible and important niche in the world of finance and public policy.
Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Sharpe, who preceded Rakowsky as GV mayor, and was also crucial in getting the Arapahoe County interchange project done, talked about his unique and distinctive personal qualities. Rakowsky is widely known to have been a deeply involved and helpful mentor to dozens of younger people as they have progressed in their careers. One who was present and became just a tiny bit emotional as he spoke about how Rakowsky taught him so much was South Metro Fire Rescue Chief Bob Baker. In describing Rakowsky, quoted John Maxwell as saying, “A leader who develops people adds, but a leader who develops leaders multiplies.”
George Lantz, who will take over as GV mayor after November 5, said that Rakowsky is “a wonderful character with a great depth of experience who has demonstrated with his work and effort true love for the people of Greenwood Village.”
When Mayor Ron’s turn to speak to his family, friends, and fans finally came, he first thanked the Colorado Emerald Society Pipes and Drum band, who played as guests arrived, because that is his way. He talked about how mentorship is a significant part of leadership, describing it as “recognizing that all are equal and have something to offer.” He thanked everyone in the room and closed with, “It has been a singular honor and special privilege to serve this city as mayor for nine years.”
Bob Melton, the owner of Rakowsky’s favorite restaurant, Benedict’s at 8181 E. Arapahoe Road in Greenwood Village, and Alex Alcala, Benedict’s general manager, physically brought Rakowsky’s favorite table to the luncheon and even set it up next to the image of a fireplace, so it looked like it does when the mayor sits there with his friends and takes on the many challenges of our community, as he has hundreds of times through the years.
GV City Manager John Jackson emceed the event. Other speakers who shared warmly about the outgoing mayor included former Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon and Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet.
Among the large group of recognizable attendees, we saw business leaders John Madden and Earl Wright, dozens of current and former elected officials including U.S. Senator Cory Gardner and former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman; from Arapahoe County, Nancy Jackson, Jeff Baker, Bill Holen, and Kathleen Conti, along with Dave Walcher; from the state legislature, Meg Froelich and Matt Soper; from Greenwood Village, Candy Figa, Mike DeChadenedes, Denise Rose, Steve Moran, Dave Pfeiffer, Judge Elizabeth Shifrin, Gary Kleeman, Dave Bullock, Jerry Presley, Anne Ingebretsen, and Dave Kerber. The current and former mayors of Cherry Hills Village, Russell Stewart and Laura Christman, along with Republican leader Joy Hoffman and her husband James were also in the crowd.
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