I want to thank The Villager for asking that I write about my time serving on The Greenwood Village City Council. The Sweeney Family, owners and editors of the newspaper have been such an important part of our community and one of the real blessings during my service has been getting to know them better.
Orchard Station: When I was elected eight years ago, little did I know then that in the following two years, the Council would be presented with one of the most important decisions in the history of the city, which was the Orchard Station development. That would have brought an extra 3.3 million square feet of commercial real estate to the Village built on only 24 acres. It would have included four 24-story buildings along with significantly increased traffic congestion.
Five Councilmembers were in favor and three of us were opposed: George Lantz, Steve Moran, and me. Being in the minority, we had to work hard for almost a year and half to defeat the project. I wrote a seven-page letter detailing my opposition which The Villager published in full. That letter was also widely distributed by email to residents throughout the entire city.
Ultimately, we were able to not only force a vote from the Councilmembers but also move the decision to a referendum vote of the citizens where it was soundly defeated. The “Save our Village” movement got a lot of attention for their work and rightfully so. But none of that would have been possible had it not been for what the three of us on Council did first to make that happen. Our city would have been very different today had it not been for the collective efforts of many people to defeat that development.
Infrastructrue Committee: When Ron Rakowsky was the Mayor, I went to him and suggested that we revive the efforts of undergrounding all the over ground utility lines in the city’s residential areas. This project was planned many years ago but had fallen by the wayside. The mayor liked the idea and asked me to serve as Chairman of the newly created Infrastructure Committee to oversee that effort.
During the six years since that committee was formed, we spearheaded several other projects that have had a direct positive impact on the daily lives of our residents. One was the creation of a small wire telecommunications program to provide better 5G wireless coverage while maintaining uniform design standards. We also worked on a partnership to deliver high speed fiber internet to every home in the Village. I believe that these two projects will go down as some of the greatest accomplishments of this Council given the ever-evolving technological needs of our society today.
Police: When the state legislature stripped away personal indemnity for police officers, our Council moved quickly to reinstate that protection for our police. We took a lot of heat in the media and from state politicians, but it was the right thing to do. During that contentious time, I did a 20-minute interview with 9NEWS where I presented our case and defended our actions. Chief Dustin Varney told me that the interview, which is still online, has helped him hire experienced officers from other cities who want to work in a place where the Council gives them strong support. I also received a thank you card signed by every police officer on the force. That is one of the most prized possessions which I will take away from my time on Council.
Important Issues: Some believe that I have been controversial on some issues but that usually comes from liberal voices. Moderates and conservatives have been quite supportive of my positions. I have been publicly critical of an ultra-liberal state legislature and governor that has passed some extreme laws. People need to understand that elections have consequences and that they should not vote simply on ideology but on how laws will impact their daily lives.
Lessons Learned: In my business career, I ran a couple of very large companies. As the CEO, I had the final say on virtually everything that happened in the business. When I became a Councilmember, I learned that to get anything done you have to convince at least four other Councilmembers and be patient in the process. A Council is comprised of people that come from many different backgrounds, experiences, and ideologies. There have been times when that has been frustrating while debating and making decisions, but I have learned that a Council of diverse backgrounds is positive for the city and its residents.
Service: I have never looked upon my time as a Councilmember as being in politics but simply to serve this community that I love so much. My wife Kathy and I have lived in Greenwood Village for 35 years. We raised our family and built our lives here. Serving was my way of giving back.
I am grateful to have been given this opportunity and am humbled by the trust that the residents vested in me to represent them. I have worked with talented and capable people on Council over the eight years and some of them have become close friends. I have also enjoyed my relationships with our city staff who are among the best in municipal government.
I am especially grateful to Kathy for her love and endless support in my responsibilities, the same as she has done in our 44 years of marriage.
Future: As my time on Council has been coming to a close, many people have asked, what’s next? Our family, faith, and friends have and always will be our top priorities. When I retired from business, Kathy and I set some goals that we wanted to spend our time and dedicate our resources doing three things: 1) focusing on our health, 2) creating memories, and 3) helping others. What’s next is that we will continue to concentrate on those efforts.