Council, mayor candidates tackle OWN questions in forum at West

       Two of the four candidates for mayor and seven of the nine for City Council attended the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) candidates forum March 22 at the West Center.
       On hand were Mike Coletta and Tony Carpenter (mayor); and Tom Gallagher, Bob Null, Jan Martin, Tom Harold, Larry Small, Randy Purvis and Greg Timm.
       Gallagher, Small and Purvis are incumbents.
       Absent were incumbent Mayor Lionel Rivera and another challenger, Tony Tyler; and council candidates Dave Martin and Bernie Herpin.
       The mayor's and four at-large council seats are being decided in the city election. Ballots were scheduled to go out March 14 to registered voters, who must mail them back by April 3.
       For the most part, the candidates agreed on the answers to the four questions put before them by OWN, the Westside's city-recognized neighborhood advocacy group. This included Herpin, also an incumbent, who mailed in his responses because of a scheduling conflict.
       On a question related to the city's finite amount of water, only Coletta said he would definitely support a growth moratorium as a way of limiting growth, while the others agreed that the issue is one of the most serious facing the city. On City Council, “We spend more time on water than anything else,” Purvis observed.
       OWN got unanimous support for its proposed historic overlay zone, which would provide tax incentives for people following historic guidelines in renovating their facades. “When I was a kid,” recalled Harold, a native who grew up on the east side of town, “I came here to take pictures of historic houses for a contest.” Small thanked OWN “for taking the initiative” on preserving its history. Carpenter said the effort showed how citizens can take charge of government.
       Asked for opinions on the state's proposed Westside Highway 24 expansion, most were opposed, with the closest to favoritism coming from Jan Martin, who noted that problems can occur “when a community doesn't think far enough ahead,” and Null, who questioned some of the the traffic projections but said “8th and 21st need it” (interchanges are proposed for each). Believing the expansion plan is oversized, Gallagher offered the colorful suggestion that Bob Mora, the project manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), “should be horse-whipped.” Timm offered the opinion that adjustments of the light timing would make a big difference.
       The final question had to do with the controversial infill project at 3325 W. Kiowa St., on which it became evident that the challengers were unfamiliar with the issue and even the incumbents - who have dealt with the matter at council meetings recently - were a little fuzzy. A comment by the first candidate to speak on the matter left the impression that a stop-work order was in effect on the entire project, no ensuing speakers corrected that erroneous statement, and some even based their opinions on the assumption it was true.
       In the citywide election, mail-in election ballots are due April 3.

Westside Pioneer article