Wings of change are blowing in Greenwood Village

BY FREDA MIKLIN
GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER

With the unusually large and distinctive array of candidates in this year’s GV City Council election, The Villager Newspaper has partnered with the League of Women Voters of Arapahoe and Douglas Counties and the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce (SMDC) to sponsor a GV candidate forum on Monday, September 27 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. to give voters an opportunity to hear from the candidates.  Each candidate will answer questions designed to help voters understand their positions on important issues. It will be held in the dome atop the AMG National Trust Bank at 6295 Greenwood Plaza Boulevard and also available on Zoom through the SMDC website, www.bestchamber.com. We are working out the seating arrangements based on evolving COVID-19 protocols and will place that information on our website, www.villager
publishing.com as well as www.bestchamber.com and www.lwvarapahoedouglas.org. as soon as it is finalized.

In this issue of The Villager, we are including the first eight candidate announcements we received, in no particular order, from the 15 candidates for Greenwood Village City Council on November 2. We will run the announcements that we receive from the remaining seven candidates next week.

Elected city government in Greenwood Village has long followed a traditional path. If one had an interest in serving on the city council, the first thing they would do is present themselves to the two sitting city council representatives of the district in which they resided and ask to be considered for an appointment to one of the city’s three boards and commissions. If the two council members found the person acceptable, it would result in an appointment. After serving for several years, usually until one or both of the sitting councilmembers hit their eight-year term limit, the board member or commissioner would likely be tapped by the outgoing councilmember to run for their seat with their highly-valued endorsement.

The prime position for advancement to the city council has always been the planning and zoning commission (P & Z). In 2015, there were four new members elected to the GV city council to replace four term-limited members. All four came from P & Z. In 2017, GV voted in three councilmembers who had already served the eight years allowed but ran again using a loophole in the term-limit rules that says that one can only serve eight consecutive years, thus a person can serve four two-year terms, sit out one two-year term, then serve eight more years, and on and on.

Every member of the GV City Council runs every two years. In most nearby municipalities in Colorado, four-year staggered terms are the norm, so candidates run as individuals and cannot run in teams, as happens in GV. In a typical election year, one or two of the city’s four council districts see contested elections. In 2013, GV cancelled its municipal election because not one of the four voting districts was contested. 

Something changed this year. In the November 2, 2021 election, there are contested elections in all four of Greenwood Village’s voting districts and two incumbents eligible for re-election have chosen to walk away. Six incumbents and nine new candidates are running. Of the nine new candidates, only two have spent any time on a GV board or commission. 

The Villager perused the websites of some of the seven new candidates to get a sense of what has motivated them to want to serve. We saw common themes that are largely new for this city council, where candidates have historically pointed to their mission as preserving the status quo, citing the city’s history of parks, open spaces, single-family homes (zillow.com says “the typical value of home in Greenwood Village is $1,298,080”) and low crime. While new candidates for city council express sincere appreciation for the high quality of life in GV, they also point to the importance of other things, using terms and phrases like:

  • sustainability, sustainability committee, more sustainable future, water and energy conservation, solar power, environmental sustainability, enhance the utilization of biking and walking trails, innovative ways to address and mitigate climate change, electric vehicles, charging stations, innovation, citywide broadband Wi-Fi service
  • greater sense of connection, collaboration, community engagement, inclusivity, inclusive community, inclusive leadership, citizen task forces, accountability
  • transparency, video council and commission meetings, allow input to council study sessions, promote public input on capital projects, regular town hall meetings, resident engagement, real term limits
  • increase police pay and hold police accountable for misconduct, use co-responders with police
  • subtle, yet inclusionary development.

One new candidate pointed to the fact that there is, “No city-owned solar generation or electric vehicles,” recommending that GV, “should leverage federal and state programs that are in place to begin converting to electric vehicles where possible.”

While some programs have associated costs, GV, with a population approaching 16,000, had zero debt and a projected 2021 year-end total fund balance, which is money in the bank after all expenses are paid, of $51.9 million, according to its 2021 Adopted Annual Operating Budget. The city does not publish any financial information monthly or anytime during the year other than in its annual financial report so there is no public data to which we can refer to determine if that target, set late last year, is still expected to be met.

fmiklin.villager@gmail.com