Reporter Freda Miklin with retiring Mayor Ron Rakowsky
Reporter Freda Miklin with retiring Mayor Ron Rakowsky
BY FREDA MIKLIN
In 1988, United States Air Force Colonel Ron Rakowsky was transferred from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. to the Air Reserve Personnel Center at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver to serve as Staff Judge Advocate. In that position, he supervised 900 lawyers from Bangkok to Berlin.
Ron and his wife, Dr. Margaret Rakowsky, retired Air Force Academy associate professor of chemistry, moved to Greenwood Village because they wanted their son Robert, who was about to start high school, to attend school in the Cherry Creek School District. Ron retired from the Air Force in 1994 and went to work as the director of credit union leasing for the Colorado Credit Union League, where he remained until 2007.
Rakowsky first joined the Greenwood Village board of adjustments and appeals in 2003 and ran for city council that same year. By 2005 he was Mayor Pro Tem. In November 2010, then-GV Mayor Nancy Sharpe was elected Arapahoe County Commissioner. When Sharpe took office in January 2011, Rakowsky was appointed to complete the remaining eleven months of her term as mayor. He ran for his first full four-year term in November 2011, and again four years later. He was unopposed in both elections.
Limited to two full terms by law, Rakowsky will retire from Greenwood Village city government after this year’s election for mayor and all of city council on November 5.
Rakowsky is proud to have had a personal role in helping bring AMG Bank, National Bank Holdings, and COBANK to Greenwood Village. He also initiated the undergrounding of utility lines, an important program that continues today.
As mayor, Rakowsky worked to raise the standards for all city employees, including police officers. He spent a lot of time consulting with the city manager on hiring decisions and actively getting to know the people who worked in city hall. The mayor has mentored dozens of young people through the years.
Asked how it became a calling for him, he shrugged and said, “Judging people has become second nature to me. I’m fortunate that I’ve had a good track record for getting it right.”
Some of the things Mayor Rakowsky has enjoyed most in his nine years on the job are conducting the youth Honor Band and Colorado
Wind Ensemble when they play at Curtis Park every August, the Village Read program and dedicating the new South Metro Fire Rescue Station 31 on East Orchard Road and South Havana Street in 2016. Equally gratifying, he says, has been representing Greenwood Village at the Denver Regional Council of Governments. While on the council, he sat on the nominating committee, representing the city at ribbon cuttings and special events, public and private, and had the opportunity to meet mayors and chief executives of Denver and other cities from around the world, as well as local agencies like CDOT and RTD.
The mayor regrets not trying to buy 51-acre Mountain View Golf Course from the Bansbach family and make it a part of Greenwood Village before it was developed into Belleview Station. He also regrets not trying harder to get foreign consulates to move to Greenwood Village, where they would fit in perfectly.
We inquired what the mayor thinks Greenwood Village will look like in the future. Rakowsky said that Orchard Station will eventually be redeveloped, but it will take a change in “political factors.” Asked how he thinks it could be developed under the city’s current comprehensive plan, revised by the new city council elected in 2017, the mayor said that the comprehensive plan will have to be changed.
Rakowsky’s advice for the person who follows him: never forget that Greenwood Village has good constituents and a great staff. Recognize that it’s a 24/7 responsibility and make sure you continue the city’s positive participation in regional affairs.
We asked some of the people who have known Mayor Rakowsky personally and professionally to share their thoughts about him.
Dustin Varney, Greenwood Village Chief of Police said, “Life, regardless of whether it’s on a personal or professional level, is about evolution. Ron Rakowsky always sought out ways to see the potential in others and pass on his knowledge to help others evolve. I am one who has been blessed with his wisdom being passed onto me. Remarkable man, one that will never be forgotten for what he has done for me personally and professionally.”
Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Sharpe described the mayor this way: “Anyone who knows Ron knows how thoughtful he is. He remembers to reach out to his many friends on birthdays and on other special occasions. In today’s busy times, that is a rare quality. We have always been able to openly and honestly discuss ideas and issues and, at times, respectfully disagree. Ron is a person that I have always been able to count on as a colleague and friend and I sincerely value that.”
South Metro Fire Chief Bob Baker has worked with Mayor Rakowsky for many years. He said, “Mayor Rakowsky is a stalwart champion of public safety, including South Metro Fire Rescue. During his tenure, he has treated our emergency responders like family and always includes them as part of the Greenwood Village team. He has also been a confidant, encourager, mentor and dear friend to this fire chief. I owe Ron a great debt of gratitude for generously sharing his brilliant intellect, unwavering support and enduring loyalty.”
Bryan Zerr is a local C.P.A. and real estate professional who counts Ron and Margaret Rakowsky as personal friends of himself and his wife Brianna. He says, “Mayor Ron Rakowsky has been a mentor and friend for nearly ten years. He took me under his wing when I was 23. What began as an education about public service, evolved beyond anything I could have imagined – including lessons in relationships, business, philanthropy, spirituality, and care of one’s health. Ron has broadened my thinking, expanded my perspective, and inspired me. All who know Ron would agree he embodies the definition of the phrase “Great American”. Greater still and more impressively, I would add he is an even more outstanding husband, father, grandfather, and friend.”
What does the mayor plan to do after he leaves office in November? Rakowsky hopes to find a place where he can continue to serve his community. He named Castlewood Water and Sanitation and South Metro Fire Rescue as two organization on whose board he would like to serve, if possible.
Editorial comment/ I met Ron Rakowsky when he was appointed to the Board of Adjustments and Appeals in 2003 and I was its chairperson. It was immediately obvious that he was sincerely dedicated to community service, a value we shared. We became and remain close friends. Ron strongly encouraged me to run for GV City Council in 2015 and was my greatest supporter while I was in that position.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |