BY FREDA MIKLIN
The Villager Newspaper, together with the League of Women Voters of Arapahoe and Douglas Counties and the South Metro Denver Chamber held a forum for candidates for Cherry Hills Villager Mayor and City Council on October 10 at Kent Denver School. We published highlights from that event in last week’s Villager. Here are more of candidates’ answers to the questions presented.
To the question of what are the duties of the mayor and why are you the best choice, first to respond was Jenn Diffendal, who said, “My key priorities as future mayor are championing public safety, increasing cell phone coverage, fiscal tran sparency, and aggressively seeking new revenue sources in the forms of public-private partnerships and grants,” adding, “I believe my unparalleled experience and voice is needed as we navigate through these challenges.”
Stewart, focusing on the question, responded that most of the duties of the mayor that are outlined in the City Charter are actually performed by the city manager, leaving the mayor to preside over meetings, requiring knowledge of Robert’s Rules of Order, and to appear on behalf of the city at ceremonial events. The most important duty, however, he said, “is to establish relationships with other local mayors and Arapahoe County commissioners, so I meet frequently with (other local mayors in the area) and we work on projects together,” noting that he is “always advocating for the interests of CHV.”
Brown had a different view, saying that the CHV mayor, “doesn’t do much,” because, “the city council holds all the power.” She continued, “The role of the mayor is not to be an activist, is not to have a personal agenda. The mayor doesn’t even vote except in the case of a tie. The mayor can’t give raises or cut taxes that fund open space or unilaterally take a policy position on behalf of the city, all things my opponents have promised to do.” She continued, “What the mayor can do, and what I will do as mayor, is build a culture of trust and respect and collaboration. And I will support the council in implementing the will of the people.”
On a question about how CHV residents can conserve water, Brown noted that the issue had “come up in our recent Master Plan updating process,” and, “There are a few easy steps we can take to incentivize our citizens to conserve water (including) making sure our code allows (residents) to install natural landscaping, not requiring them to cut their natural grasses to two inches tall.” She said that, “The city can also do its part as a citizen to conserve water,” pointing to the current project to repurpose the High Line Canal as stormwater infrastructure.
Diffendal recommended residents use “more native plants so we can have the longevity of plant life without using water and reducing it.”
Stewart pointed to new rules in Aurora “limiting the size of lawns and the use of thirsty bluegrass.” He also pointed to the need to work collaboratively with Denver Water and “our other jurisdictions surrounding us, all of our local neighbors, and all of our regional neighbors, too, to reduce water use.”
The moderator asked city council candidates what the most important duties are of a city council representative and what their priorities would be, if elected.
Tory Leviton said, “The most important thing for city council is to show up” (and participate), as well as to innovate. His priorities are conservation, including protecting wildlife corridors, public safety, and wellness, including mental health.
Earl Hoellen said that the council’s job is “to set policy consistent with the Master Plan because it expresses the will of the people,” but it’s important to “keep seeking out the opinions of the community because the will of the people can change.” His priorities are safety and security of citizens and their property, the Master Plan, and financial sustainability.
Susan Maguire said the most important thing for a city council member “is to set the policy of the city and in doing that, to represent the community and to listen to what the city wants, not to set your own agenda.” Her priorities are implementing the Master Plan, supporting the police, and conservative fiscal management.
Mark Williams named, “representing the people, to put the interests of the people before your own, to be diplomatic, to find solutions, and to work with other council members” as the most important duties of a city council representative. He named fiscal responsibility as his first priority, noting that the 2022 budget contained a note about potential depletion of the capital and general funds in 2027 and 2032, respectively, under certain circumstances. Williams said that he did not think the city would default on its obligations, but “there needs to be a change.” He also wants to look at lowering speed limits and focus on diplomacy to “solve problems and not create more.”
Tom Conroy identified, “the oversight of the management of the city that is done by the city staff,” and thinking through important decisions carefully after listening to all sides of an argument as the important duties of a city council representative. His priority will be to focus on “fiscal responsibility,” noting he plans “to work directly with the city’s budget manager and financial manager to get a better understanding of these long-term forecasts.” He would also like to see “the police department do a complete plan,” because he isn’t sure there are enough officers on duty presently.
Rob Eber said that, “The number one duty of the city council is to implement the Master Plan” as adopted, pointing to the fact that a revised Master Plan will be adopted later this year, before a new city council is seated. He also noted that he has been “active on the Citizens Advisory Task Force for the Master Plan” and has attended all its meetings. His priorities, if elected, are to keep CHV a great city to live in and raise a family, maintaining safety, security, and financial stability; to preserve open space, and to control air and surface traffic.
To view and listen to the complete CHV Candidate Forum, go to www.villagerpublishing.com.