2017 CITY COUNCIL: Crowded slate for two Aurora at-large city council seats

With no incumbents running for these two seats, field is wide open and crowded with voter choices. Hopefuls bring military, community experience

AURORAEight candidates are hoping to snag one of the two at-large seats that will bring new faces to the Aurora City Council, with Barb Cleland deciding not to run and Brad Pierce term-limited. David Gruber, Brian Arnold, Tim Huffman, Russ Wagner, Allison Hiltz, Reid Hettich, Abel Laeke and Tom Tobiassen are in the race.

Arnold first ran for city council in 2015 for the Ward IV race to replace term-limited councilman Bob Broom. Then, Arnold found himself up against PK Kaiser, who dropped from this year’s at-large race, and Francoise Bergan, who was elected to council.

In the at-large race Arnold jokes that he doesn’t have to be voters’ first vote, but he’d like to be their second. Though he lives in Ward VI, Arnold works in Ward I and has family across the sprawling city. That gives him a wide perspective of issues facing Aurora.

As the executive director of Aurora Warms the Nights, a non-profit organization that partners with other organizations to connect Aurora’s homeless population with services, Arnold is confident that affordable housing could help fix much of the homeless situation, particularly along the east Colfax corridor.

Hettich, a longtime pastor in the Denver metro area, is also familiar with the homeless population in the northern portion of the city, where he lives and works. While Hettich has lived further south for much of his time in Aurora, Hettich now resides in Ward I, also where the Mosaic Church of Aurora, a “multi ethnic, economically diverse, community focused church” he helped start is located.

While working with some of Aurora’s poorest neighborhoods, Hettich believes, not unlike many, that the biggest issue facing the city is the maintenance of its roads.

Gruber, a retired Air Force colonel, knows the all-encompassing work it takes to run a city. Afterall, he was the commander responsible for base operations at Buckley Air Force Base, making sure police and fire ran smoothly, the streets were maintained and computer and logistics were all up to par.

When it comes to Aurora’s growth, Gruber doesn’t believe it has not all been good. His campaign website cites what he believes as complex funding and taxation as proof. For Gruber, Aurora’s biggest challenge is how it taxes its residents and how that is supposed to keep up with growth.

“The larger we become, the bigger difference we face in what we collect in taxes and what we need to support our citizens,” Gruber’s website says.

While Gruber doesn’t give a play-by-play on how to address the elaborate issue of growth and taxes, he does say his experience with budgets and management are what Aurora needs in a leader.

Like Gruber, Tobiassen knows the complexities of government and growth. Tobiassen was the the chairman of the Regional Transportation District — one of the his major accomplishments during his tenure was “bringing RTD to Aurora and Aurora to RTD” with the R Line along Interstate 225.

With the threat of service reduction, Tobiassen named keeping the R Line up and running a top transportation priority for the city. He also believes the traffic jams along I-225 are a major issue.

Beyond transportation, Tobiassen is an advocate for luring more high-paying jobs to Aurora. And so, incentives are a major part of the equation.

Those incentives could be a major determining factor for some companies, Tobiassen said.

Hiltz, the only woman in the at-large race, describes herself as a bit of a policy wonk. She likes decisions to be backed with hard facts and trusted data. She works for the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan non-governmental organization that serves state legislatures. There, it’s only the data that matters. But Hiltz wants to apply the idea of fact-based decision making to the city.

For example, Hiltz believes that the city should be extra cautious when awarding incentives to businesses it’s luring to Aurora, because she said she believes those incentives aren’t always the best economic development tools.

Laeke knows the immigrant population well. He’s the son of Ethiopian immigrants and has close ties to the Ethiopian community in Aurora, which Laeke claims to be a major reason for his candidacy. There aren’t any council members presently that have the same kind of ties to the African immigrant community as he does.

Laeke grew up in Aurora, so he believes he understands the needs of the community. Though, this isn’t his first dive into municipal politics. Laeke ran for Pueblo City Council in 2015, losing with just 11 percent of the vote.

Prior to his interest in politics, Laeke had several run-ins with law enforcement, as the Aurora Sentinel has uncovered. Laeke is a registered sex offender and was charged with felonies three different times — but he was never convicted, which according to the city, would have barred him from running for council.

Huffman is running for a city council at-large seat after spending 33 years on the Aurora Police Department. While serving the city as a law enforcement officer, Huffman said he got to know the immigrant and refugee population well, but said during a candidate forum that giving the title of “sanctuary city” to Aurora isn’t needed.

The candidate also has put in a lot of work to aid the homeless population in Aurora. He served as a board member of Aurora Warms the Nights, Aurora Housing Authority and Aurora Mental Health. Homelessness is much more complicated than most people make it out to be, Huffman said.

Even so, there is a group among the homeless who are difficult to help, Huffman said, adding that resources should be spent wisely and efficiently on homelessness.

Wagner is an Aurora native. He returned after serving in the U.S. Navy to buy a home and start a family.

Above all, he believes people could use a reason to travel to Aurora. So in four years, if elected, he’d like to be able to say he helped create a major tourist attraction in Aurora — such as a performing arts center, theme park or some type of entertainment district.

Additionally, Wagner said supporting small businesses that call Aurora home and maintaining public safety in one of Colorado’s largest cities should be top priorities, too.

Among the top issues to come to the surface during candidate forums and interviews is whether Aurora should claim itself a ‘sanctuary city.’

Hiltz disagrees with the majority of the current city council that doesn’t think Aurora needs the title. During forums and on her website Hiltz said areas with higher populations of refugees and immigrants have lower violent and property crime rates — a major reason to adopt the title and support a significant population in Aurora.

Huffman, on the other hand, said he didn’t believe the city should subscribe to the title, and that if federal laws aren’t working, then federal lawmakers should reexamine them.

During the Channel 8 candidate forum, Hiltz said she found it interesting that Aurora being a home rule municipality wants control over oil and gas, taxes and other things, but “not that local control when it comes to stepping up, taking control and protecting the people who live here.”

Abel Gebre Laeke Bio & Issue Q&A

At-large candidate Abel Laeke is a Colorado native and the son of Ethiopian immigrants. He grew up in Aurora and now owns his own consulting business, which aims to help startups and medium-sized businesses. Laeke unsuccessfully ran for a seat on Pueblo’s city council in 2015. While in Pueblo, Laeke was appointed to the Community Service Advisory Commission, a city-county commission responsible with awarding money to local non-profit organizations.

QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO YOUR ELECTION RACE:
Q) Green lights or red lights? Photo red-light cameras in Aurora continue to be controversial, especially since a body of state lawmakers continue to threaten to make them illegal. As a city lawmaker, would you recommend the city continue its own program?
A) It’s really irritating to be subject to a ticket by a machine but albeit it is highly effective in its ability to curb the number of accidents and rule violators. I think they are here to stay.
Q) Denver has agreed to allow some bars and coffee shops the open use of marijuana, or to create private cannabis clubs. Would you permit them? If not, why? If yes, how?
A) Such as the photo radar, cannabis is here to stay. Now, the safe regulation of this instrument is the issue at hand. If safely regulated I support the measures to provide these types of facilitates. 
Q) Aurora is growing rapidly at nearly 350,000 people. Developers are looking to annex thousands of acres east of city boundaries that could become residential and some commercial development associated with  Denver International Airport. Do you believe the city should continue to annex large tracts of land?
A) Yes, but with the consent of the public. There are numerous factors that play into the formation and annexation of lands that surround the City. A careful thought out process must be employed to make sure we have a safe and vibrant community in and out the district of Aurora.
Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?
A) If the lands surrounding the city are either annexed or continue to grow the city may suffice as a county. On plain view a county of Aurora may be something in the works already. 
Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?
A) The roads and the lack of affordability of the RTD system in particular the Light Rail.
Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?
A) No matter how heavily we in force any particular gun law or measures the root cause of these types of violent acts is dependent on income inequalities. If our residents are educated early on in school as to career paths and if jobs are available once such training has been matriculated; gun violence can be limited. If people have positive outlets criminal activity will definitely go down.
Q) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what can be done differently? Is it important?
A) No. I think some of the signage can use some aesthetical qualities. The art district is under utilized. And the parks and rec department have more value then shown to be. 
Q) Should residents who don’t shovel the snow on their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall face stiffer penalties to ensure compliance to protect pedestrians?
A) This proposal should be carefully measured. There are people who cannot respond to the weather due to various reasons to include but not limited to disability amongst other conditions.
Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city?
A) I think the control begins with the induction of green technology and bringing these green jobs to facility the region as a whole that can a) employ our residents b) allow our residents to access these services.
Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?
A) I believe the planning and zoning commission should have the restrictive values put on the signage within the city.
Q) Should Aurora limit or ban giving financial incentives to businesses in an effort to lure them to Aurora? An example where large incentives were offered include the Gaylord and Amazon projects. Critics call these “corporate welfare,” but proponents say they’re a critical part of economic development and creating jobs.
A) I believe if an incentive is given as corporate welfare the same amount should be attributed to the lower tier of residents in an effort to pull them out of poverty or the various types of income inequalities.
Q) Despite improvements in working with county government to ensure services for Aurora residents, problems remain, including transportation for many senior residents. What’s the answer, or should the city stay out of the problem?
A) We should give incentive to the local transportation and other agencies to provide proper and adequate service to our seniors. Our seniors should be well cared and managed for. If I am elected I will develop a board and commission for Senior Care to ensure proper services.
Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?
A) Yes. 
Q) The East Colfax corridor has long been a challenge. Many say that without a substantial infusion of cash for urban renewal and incentives, little will change. Should Aurora create a special a funded urban renewal district to purchase and select portions of the East Colfax corridor and enhance the work of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, or should Aurora stay the course because, it is what it is?
A) The longest road of the Nation is a treasure to have in our backyard. Improvement is an imperative. Improvement will bring the desired influx of business activity and living space. East Colfax, is ripe for development and I will do whatever possible as a councilperson to ensure the vibrancy of this corridor. 
Abel Gebre Laeke Endorsements

Coming soon

Abel Gebre Laeke Personality Q&A
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:
1. What food do you hate most? Goat
2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? I do not.
3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Matt Damon
4. What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Soccer
5. What was your favorite childhood candy? Laffy Taffy
6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The trial of Socrates
7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Black Lion 
8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Alan Jackson “Summertime Blues”
9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? A Brave Actor of Change
10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? No
11. What is the last concert you attended? Outkast and Lauren Hill
12. What movie do you never tire of watching? Bad Boys
13. Dogs or cats? Neither
14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? the East Colfax corridor brilliance and potential.

Abel Gebre Laeke Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

coming soon

Brian Arnold Bio & Issues Q&A

Brian Arnold is the executive director for Aurora Warms the Night, a non-profit organization serving the community’s homeless population. He is also in the process of completing a doctorate degree in educational technology at the University of Phoenix. Along with serving as the chaplain at the Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital, Arnold coaches track at Cherokee Trail High School. The candidate graduated from Cherry Creek High School in 1983. He returned to Colorado in 2010.

QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO YOUR ELECTION RACE:
Q) Green lights or red lights? Photo red-light cameras in Aurora continue to be controversial, especially since a body of state lawmakers continue to threaten to make them illegal. As a city lawmaker, would you recommend the city continue its own program?
A) Yes. The revenue is helping great programs and accidents have gone down on the streets they are on.
Q) Denver has agreed to allow some bars and coffee shops the open use of marijuana, or to create private cannabis clubs. Would you permit them? If not, why? If yes, how?
A) Yes, by city ordinance.  Marijuana is not going anywhere. There is a better chance of calling a cab and saving someone’s life in a club, then when it is smoked out in the parking lot.
Q)  Aurora is growing rapidly at nearly 350,000 people. Developers are looking to annex thousands of acres east of city boundaries that could become residential and some commercial development associated with  Denver International Airport. Do you believe the city should continue to annex large tracts of land?
A) This depends on water and ability to keep people safe. We have to make sure that we can sustain the property that is annexed.
Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?
A) Yes. We are getting to point that the city is large enough and it financially makes sense to have in house the services that people need in order to maintain their quality of life. Our property taxes could be better allocated to our needs, if they weren’t distributed over the three current counties in Aurora.
Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?
A) Fixing of roads and an east-west corridor to help get people in and out of the city.
Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why? At both local and the federal level we need to better enforce the laws that we currently have. 
A) The problem is not with legal guns, it’s with the illegal guns that our offenders have. Until we stop the manufacturing and distribution of illegal weapons, new laws are not going to fix the issue.
Q) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what can be done differently? Is it important?
A) They do…but we can always do better. More and more people are moving here every day because they want to live here. Organizations like Visit Aurora are doing a great job in selling our city to both people and incoming businesses that will help boost our economy.
Q) Should residents who don’t shovel the snow on their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall face stiffer penalties to ensure compliance to protect pedestrians?
A) If they are just plain neglectful, Yes!  But it’s a bigger problem than a blanket penalty. Older  and disabled citizens may not be able to shovel or afford to have someone do it for them. Some sidewalks are messed up and are harder to shovel. The city sometimes plows and puts removed snow right back on the sidewalk. So before adding stiffer fines, let’s find ways to help those in need. Creatively, our communities can come up with better solutions than increasing penalties.
Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city?
A) This is a state issue. The city has very little jurisdiction in the matter other than distance from the pad and we should continue to keep a watch on that.
Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?
A) It is fine the way it is. 
Q) Should Aurora limit or ban giving financial incentives to businesses in an effort to lure them to Aurora? An example where large incentives were offered include the Gaylord and Amazon projects. Critics call these “corporate welfare,” but proponents say they’re a critical part of economic development and creating jobs.
A) This should be case by case. We need to do what’s best for all of our citizens. There should not be a blanket rule. This is a delicate balance when the economy is good like it is now. It’s easy to say no, but there are times it may be necessary so this is not a door we want to close. Just because we can, does not mean we should. However, it’s good to be able to have the option.
Q) Despite improvements in working with county government to ensure services for Aurora residents, problems remain, including transportation for many senior residents. What’s the answer, or should the city stay out of the problem?
A) We have to find ways to improve accessibility to all citizens. We need to continue to put pressure on all three counties to make sure they are doing their jobs. For example, move the Adams county services from 104th and Pacos to a closer location or add another. The current distance for most is not acceptable.
Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?
A) Not at this time. We have much bigger issues like safe, maintained roads.
Q) The East Colfax corridor has long been a challenge. Many say that without a substantial infusion of cash for urban renewal and incentives, little will change. Should Aurora create a special a funded urban renewal district to purchase and select portions of the East Colfax corridor and enhance the work of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, or should Aurora stay the course because, it is what it is?
A) I don’t believe we should just give up on East Colfax. But we need to be careful of gentrification as well. The city is taking great steps with the rezoning project in Ward I and needs to continue to be forward thinking in solutions. The truth is, we need affordable, attainable housing. Our biggest homeless population is in this corridor, and if we solve the housing problem, we solve many of the issues that we face in this region of Aurora.
Brian Arnold Endorsements

coming soon

Brian Arnold Personality Q&A
1. What food do you hate most? Mustard 
2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? Nope 
3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Denzel Washington 
4. What Olympic Sport do you wish you could win gold at? Track and field (Hurdles)
5. What was your favorite childhood candy? Pop Rocks  
6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be?
 I Have a Dream Speech
7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Clark (as in Clark Kent) 
8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. 
“Don’t Worry About A Thing” Bob Marley 
9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? He Lived the Dash to the Fullest (See the Dash)
10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Nope 
11. What is the last concert you attended? Daren Rahn (Local Grammy Award winning Jazz Artist)  
12. What movie do you never tire of watching? Braveheart 
13. Dogs or cats? Lions 
14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? The spirit of the people.

 

Brian Arnold Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $0.00

2. Total Contributions — $1,675.00

3. Total Receipts — $1,675.00

4. Total Expenditures —  $612.69

5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $1,062.31

6. Total In-kind Contributions— $0.00

Brian Arnold finance report August 2017

Timothy G. Huffman Bio & Issues Q&A

At-large candidate Tim Huffman spent 33 years of his law enforcement career with the Aurora Police Department. Beyond the APD, Huffman has served on several Aurora community and local government boards, including mental health boards, the local licensing authority and currently the Aurora Housing Authority. The Colorado native grew up in east Denver and has been married for 33 years. He has two grown daughters.

QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO YOUR ELECTION RACE:

Q) Green lights or red lights? Photo red-light cameras in Aurora continue to be controversial, especially since a body of state lawmakers continue to threaten to make them illegal. As a city lawmaker, would you recommend the city continue its own program?

A) Though I haven’t read them myself, I know there are studies that show reductions in accidents at the intersection where they are in use. However, I have spoken with APD traffic officers and they advise that the cameras do reduce accidents. Because the proceeds from the cameras go to fund some good programs and they make accidents less likely, I would continue the program. However, I am not yet convinced that the program should be expanded. I would need to read the research on the benefits and the vendors the City uses for the program before supporting an expansion. 

 

Q) Denver has agreed to allow some bars and coffee shops the open use of marijuana, or to create private cannabis clubs. Would you permit them? If not, why? If yes, how?

A) Aurora’s policy of limiting retail outlets to 24 stores seems to be working very well. I am inclined to say yes to a very limited number of establishments. However, Council would need to do a lot of work on the laws and regulations that would guide those establishments. I would also like to hear from the citizens of Aurora, as they would have a great deal of influence on how Council votes. 

 

Q) Aurora is growing rapidly at nearly 350,000 people. Developers are looking to annex thousands of acres east of city boundaries that could become residential and some commercial development associated with Denver International Airport. Do you believe the city should continue to annex large tracts of land?

A) The short answer is Yes. As the city is approached by those developers and communities wanting to be annexed into the city, a comprehensive study should be undertaken on the feasibility of that annexation. To make sure that the annexation is in the best interest of the citizens of Aurora and that it does not put an undue burden on our resources, the process should also include a very robust community outreach effort to capture public opinion.

Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?

A) No, I don’t. I think that the associated costs outweigh the benefits. Incorporation would land-lock future development that would be needed to build our tax base. 

 

Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?

A) As a board member of Aurora Mental Health and the Aurora Housing Authority, I voted in favor of asking RTD to reconsider its plans to cut back on service on the R Line. However, the greatest transportation priority is the maintenance of our roadways and bridges. Money spent now on the maintenance saves money later.  

Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?
A) I think our efforts as a City to limit gun violence are best spent on improving mental health and substance abuse treatment. As a law enforcement professional of 33 years, I can attest first hand that the overwhelming majority of homicides involve one or both issues.  
Q) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what can be done differently?  Is it important?
A) Between AEDC, the Aurora Chamber and Visit Aurora, the important work of promoting our City to visitors and businesses is succeeding. Because the promotion of Aurora is necessary for the continued growth of our population and tax base, I will always be a reliable supporter of these promotional efforts.
Q) Should residents who don’t shovel the snow on their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall face stiffer penalties to ensure compliance to protect pedestrians?
A) No. I think the laws the City has in place now is sufficient. We should enforce the laws we have on the books now.
Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in   the city?
A) 
Colorado has some of the toughest oil and gas regulations in the country. I think that the state and local restrictions and guidelines that are in place now are sufficient for the time being. 
Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is? 
A) I would leave our sign ordinances the way they are. At this time, I don’t see a reason to change them.
Q) Should Aurora limit or ban giving financial incentives to businesses in an effort to lure them to Aurora? An example where large incentives were offered include the Gaylord and Amazon projects. Critics call these “corporate welfare,” but proponents say they’re a critical part of economic development and creating jobs.
A) These incentives have become the industry standard and are in fact needed to entice big businesses to relocate to Aurora. The critical aspect – and where Council should have a great deal of oversight – is the negotiation of incentives and ensuring the transparency of the details of each deal when appropriate.
Q) Despite improvements in working with county government to ensure services for Aurora residents, problems remain, including transportation for many senior residents. What’s the answer, or should the city stay out of the problem?
A) The City needs to put pressure on Arapahoe and Adams Counties to meet their respective obligations on these matters. It would be too easy to just provide the service and absorb the expense even though the tax payer has already paid for the expense.
Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?
A) No. I don’t believe that the general public is served by removing lanes used by vehicles to provide bike lanes on major streets and slowing the flow of traffic. These reconfigurations to incentivize bicycle use are not cheap. The money needed to make room for these lanes should be used on more urgent transportation priorities such as general maintenance. Bicycle lanes should go on lesser used roadways where they would not impact vehicle traffic on the already over-crowded streets 
Q) The East Colfax corridor has long been a challenge. Many say that without a substantial infusion of cash for urban renewal and incentives, little will change. Should Aurora create a special a funded urban renewal district to purchase and select portions of the East Colfax corridor and enhance the work of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, or should Aurora stay the course because, it is what it is?
A) I think the answer to urban revitalization on Colfax lies somewhere in the middle – a place where we find solutions that don’t require more revenue or throw up our hands in futility. I worked most of my 33 years as an Aurora Police Officer working in the Original Aurora area. When elected, I will be eager to work with my colleagues on some ideas I have for dealing with these issues that may not require huge infusions of money. It’s time for Aurora City Council to make some hard choices now, rather than later when it will be harder to fix.
Timothy G. Huffman Endorsements

coming soon

Timothy G. Huffman Personality Q&A
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:
1. What food do you hate most? I have never been able to stomach asparagus 
2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? Yes, a couple of times.
3. Who would play you in a movie about your life?short Clint Eastwood.
4. What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? The decathlon. Those athletes are the most versatile on the planet.
5. What was your favorite childhood candy? I couldn’t get enough of Smarties
6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The signing of the Declaration of Independence.
7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Boris. It was a name given to me by the friends I worked plain clothes with. (We had a Natasha, a Rocky and a Bullwinkle as well!)
8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Wonderful Tonight, by Eric Clapton or “The Thrill is Gone”, by BB King
9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? Good father who loved his family and his country.
10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? No. But with a little chili, some Tabasco and just a touch of onion, it can be a work of culinary art.
11. What is the last concert you attended? Buckner Funken Jazz Band this summer
12. What movie do you never tire of watching? The Outlaw Josie Wales
13. Dogs or cats? Dogs
14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? The people who live here are warm, welcoming and hard working.

 

Timothy G. Huffman Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $16,421.84
2. Total Contributions — $14,271.92
3. Total Receipts — $30,693.76
4. Total Expenditures — $29,345.86
5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $1,347.90
6. Total In-kind Contributions — $2,250.00

Russell Wagner Bio & Issues Q&A

Colorado native Russ Wagner moved to Aurora in 2002 after living in Florida, New York and Hawaii while serving in the U.S. Navy. He now works in the utilities operations of Coors Brewery and lives in Aurora with his wife and their joined family. In 2014 Wagner self-published a memoir about his personal journey following the death of his late wife. Wagner has also worked in oil and gas since his time in the military.

 

QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO YOUR ELECTION RACE:

Q) Green lights or red lights? Photo red-light cameras in Aurora continue to be controversial, especially since a body of state lawmakers continue to threaten to make them illegal. As a city lawmaker, would you recommend the city continue its own program?

A) I do support the use of photo red lights to improve safety at some of our most dangerous intersections. However, I do not support using them to generate revenue for the city.

 

Q) Denver has agreed to allow some bars and coffee shops the open use of marijuana, or to create private cannabis clubs. Would you permit them? If not, why? If yes, how?

A) Aurora has done a very good job at regulating marijuana in our city thus far, and I think we need to continue to take a thoughtful and strategic approach. We should allow some time for these clubs to operate in Denver so that we can learn more about the impact of implementing this type of permit. Once we have more information, we can make the best decision on whether or not to allow this in Aurora.

 

Q) Aurora is growing rapidly at nearly 350,000 people. Developers are looking to annex thousands of acres east of city boundaries that could become residential and some commercial development associated with Denver International Airport. Do you believe the city should continue to annex large tracts of land?

A) I believe in responsible growth for our city, which at times will include annexation of land. However, we need to be conscientious about the pace of growth and our ability as a city to provide the necessary services to our residents.

 

Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?

A) Not at this time. One key reason is the expense we would incur to build jails and other municipal facilities. Adams and Arapahoe counties have been great partners to the City and offer a number of important resources to our residents as well, and I want to ensure that we don’t lose those.

 

Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?

A) As the city continues to grow, it has become glaringly apparent that city wide we have a distinct need to handle maintenance and repair of our existing roads. Specifically, we need to alleviate congestion on smaller arterials (Gun Club, Quincy, etc) while anticipating the demands of future growth.

 

Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?

A) As the safest large city in Colorado, I believe the current laws adequately protect our citizens. However I understand that as the city grows and changes, additional or different laws may help us to proactively address gun violence.

 

Q) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what can be done differently? Is it important?

A) I think the city has come a long way in improving it’s marketing, but I do feel we still need to do more. We have a number of additional organizations like Visit Aurora and the Aurora Economic Development Council that drive this effort every day. I do believe it is very important to continue to work on our image, as many Metro area residents have a skewed perception of Aurora. We have to do a better job at communicating all that our great city has to offer to continue to attract businesses, tourism, and residents. I’ve raised my family here in Aurora, and I want to ensure that others know just how great our city really is.

 

Q) Should residents who don’t shovel the snow on their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall face stiffer penalties to ensure compliance to protect pedestrians?

A) Yes. I would support a tiered approach for penalties to repeat offenders. In many neighborhoods it poses a significant safety hazard.

 

Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city?

A) Again, I believe we need to be responsible as a city. Consideration must be given for environmental and social concerns, and the city should ensure that drilling efforts do not negatively impact residents.

 

Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?

A) I do not have any concerns with our sign code as it stands.

 

Q) Should Aurora limit or ban giving financial incentives to businesses in an effort to lure them to Aurora? An example where large incentives were offered include the Gaylord and Amazon projects. Critics call these “corporate welfare,” but proponents say they’re a critical part of economic development and creating jobs.

A) Just as they are now, financial incentives for large projects should be very carefully considered on a case by case basis where long-term financial impact analyses show a positive return for the city. We have to be able to compete against other cities to attract high-paying jobs, but incentives should continue to be applied in a responsible manner. I believe that transparency and dialogue around this topic and individual projects is very important.

 

Q) Despite improvements in working with county government to ensure services for Aurora residents, problems remain, including transportation for many senior residents. What’s the answer, or should the city stay out of the problem?

A) Our work is certainly not done here and we must continue to work to find solutions to these problems.  We can look to other successful programs across the metro area that can provide insight and also look for opportunities for partnership.

 

Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?

A) We should evaluate all existing resources and options to maximize mass transit use, including a broader marketing plan to Aurora residents and those who commute into Aurora for work. We have not yet seen the full potential of the R-Line, and we will need to continue to evaluate data and opportunities to better develop solutions in the future.

 

Q) The East Colfax corridor has long been a challenge. Many say that without a substantial infusion of cash for urban renewal and incentives, little will change. Should Aurora create a special a funded urban renewal district to purchase and select portions of the East Colfax corridor and enhance the work of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, or should Aurora stay the course because, it is what it is?

A) Status quo will not do, we need to focus on continuous improvement for East Colfax. The Havana Business Improvement District has done a very good job at improving Havana, and I believe we need to take a similar approach for Colfax. There is no simple fix for this issue, it is going take persistent effort from the city and from citizens to effect lasting change, but I do believe that it can be done. I do not favor the use of eminent domain, and would exhaust all other options before considering it as an option.

Russell Wagner Endorsements

coming soon

Russell Wagner Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

1. What food do you hate most? Sauerkraut based on taste alone, but shellfish wins due to a food allergy

2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? I do not.

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Jeremy Renner

4. What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Swimming

5. What was your favorite childhood candy? Charleston Chew (chocolate flavor)

6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? Theodore Roosevelt delivering his famous “Man in the Arena” speech, April 23, 1910.

7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Bolt

8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Purple Rain

9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? He put each day to good use.

10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Only if you add cheese

11. What is the last concert you attended? Guns N’ Roses

12. What movie do you never tire of watching? The Princess Bride

13. Dogs or cats? Dogs

14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? Our parks and open spaces. They are ranked 4th best in the country.

Russell Wagner Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $0.00

2. Total Contributions — $19,260.00

3. Total Receipts— $19,260.00

4. Total Expenditures — $4,190.70

5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $15,069.30

6. Total In-kind Contributions — $0.00

Allison Hope Hiltz Bio & Issues Q&A

While the at-large race is Allison Hiltz’s first run for office, she is no stranger to government or politics. She currently works with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hiltz also interned for now-House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran. In 2012, the University of Denver brought Hiltz and her husband to Colorado so she could work on a master’s degree in public policy, which she earned in 2015. In addition to her love of research and policy, Hiltz founded the website The Book Wheel.

 

 

QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO YOUR ELECTION RACE:

Q) Green lights or red lights? Photo red-light cameras in Aurora continue to be controversial, especially since a body of state lawmakers continue to threaten to make them illegal. As a city lawmaker, would you recommend the city continue its own program?
A) No. The data is still unclear on whether red light cameras make our streets safer and some cities, such as San Francisco and Chicago, saw an increase in rear-end collisions as a result. That said, the cameras are a not-insignificant revenue stream for Aurora, and steps would need to be taken to ensure that we are able to mitigate the impact of the loss.

 

Q) Denver has agreed to allow some bars and coffee shops the open use of marijuana, or to create private cannabis clubs. Would you permit them? If not, why? If yes, how?

A) I support private cannabis clubs, but am hesitant to legalize the open use of marijuana in bars and coffee shops without very stringent parameters. Private clubs that cater specifically to marijuana use will draw people who are comfortable being around marijuana (similar to bars), whereas open use may impact the public at large. Just as we do not allow alcohol in all establishments, marijuana should be limited, as well, at this time.

Q) Aurora is growing rapidly at nearly 350,000 people. Developers are looking to annex thousands of acres east of city boundaries that could become residential and some commercial development associated with  Denver International Airport. Do you believe the city should continue to annex large tracts of land?
A) Although I do not oppose annexations, in theory, I do take issue with annexations that do not provide an economic benefit to the city, provide public transit and safety options, or abuse eminent domain use. Aurora is facing an affordable housing crisis and, more recently, potential cuts to the R line. Annexing more land for pricey homes at a cost to the city will not address our current challenges. Annexing is also done on a case-by-case basis, rather than an all-encompassing, strategic plan that can be looked at for its long term impacts and feasibility.

 

Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?

A) Yes, but not now. Moving to a city/county model makes sense in the long run – rather than residing within three counties, we would be consolidated. Aurora would have more control over its utilities and service delivery, and a broader tax base. It also prevents additional annexations, which can be developer-driven, pose a negative net impact, and on a case-by-case basis, rather than as part of a larger, strategic plan.

The most recent feasibility study, however, shows that moving to the a city/council model would be a daunting task given that it would result in a significant negative net fiscal impact, particularly for capital costs. Therefore, we need to be strategic in how we will mitigate the fiscal impact on residents before moving forward with the process. This includes, but is not limited to, eliminating redundancies, streamlining current programs to save money, ensuring services are targeting the right people and are using evidence-based practices, and working towards using existing structures for “new” services.
I do not believe that Aurora is ready for such a move at this time, and to so now would have severe consequences for residents. Most available studies on the long term success of this type of move is based on city-city mergers or counties that absorb cities, rather than consolidating one city into one county, so very careful planning for multiple scenarios is necessary.
In sum, if we plan for future capital costs now, it can be beneficial, but I would support it only if we are able to find ways to consolidate without negatively impacting residents. Consolidating power for the sake of consolidating power is not reason enough to move to a city/county government, but improving the city for its residents is.

 

Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?

A) Affordable and efficient buses. Aurora now has the R line (although its service is uncertain, at this time), but many residents cannot get to and from the lightrail. Many of our bus stops do not have shelters, which disincentivizes non-transit dependent travelers from using it. That said, our roads need significant investments to bring them up to speed, but the often-ignored problem is how our public transit-dependant residents get from point A to point B. As Aurora courts big businesses, such as Amazon, this will become an even bigger sticking point.

Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?

A) Denver has proven that, despite state preemption of local gun laws, densely populated areas may assert local control with regard to open carry and assault rifles. In other words, cities can (and are) tackling this issue. Other options include preventing those with a restraining order against them from possessing a firearm, gun buyback program (although this is a program, not a law), or those aimed directly at inspecting stores selling guns.

Q) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what can be done differently? Is it important?

A) Aurora has a long and checkered history with regard to its reputation in the metro area, and there are always ways to improve our marketing efforts. But first, Aurora needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up – a city that is home to Aurorans, or a tourist city that caters to outside industries. Our current trajectory puts us on a path towards the latter. If, however, we want to focus on the community that lives here and welcome new residents, then we need to market ourselves as more than just welcoming city and boost our marketing of investments in our schools, STEM programs, immigrant and refugee programs, and (hopefully) investments in public transit.

Q) Should residents who don’t shovel the snow on their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall face stiffer penalties to ensure compliance to protect pedestrians?

A) No. Although I understand the reasoning behind the penalties, it is impossible to universally and fairly enforce it. Furthermore, I am not confident that those who are disabled, elderly, or otherwise unable to shovel are aware of the Snow Busters program. Lastly, this program does not guarantee a match, and so those who are unable to shovel their own walkways may not have the ability or resources to do so. I would like to know what the data shows before discussing increasing penalties.

Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city?

A) Currently, the city does not have the authority to ban oil and gas drilling and defers to COGCC, however that does not mean that the city is exempt from responsibility. City Council has previously chosen to follow the rules COGCC sets, rather than taking public input  community-driven efforts seriously to inform policy decisions. I believe that cities should have the ability to increase regulations and/or ban oil and gas drilling in their jurisdictions.

Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?

A) I do not see a reason for any significant changes at this time, but am open to them, if need be.

Q) Should Aurora limit or ban giving financial incentives to businesses in an effort to lure them to Aurora? An example where large incentives were offered include the Gaylord and Amazon projects. Critics call these “corporate welfare,” but proponents say they’re a critical part of economic development and creating jobs.
A) Tax incentives often cost cities and states more money than they generate, and so any potential incentive should undergo a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to determine its return on investment. It should also be evaluated in terms of whether other, similar incentives provided a positive return on investment. I do not believe that tax incentives are the best way to spur economic development or create jobs. Currently, we face an underemployment, rather than an unemployment, problem; creating new, low wage jobs for people to transfer into will not solve our overarching problems.

Q) Despite improvements in working with county government to ensure services for Aurora residents, problems remain, including transportation for many senior residents. What’s the answer, or should the city stay out of the problem?

A) How residents get from point A to point B is a city issue, and Aurora should not ignore the challenges that seniors face. We have county programs that help seniors live independently by getting them to and from doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, and other errands. Unfortunately, current services are not able to keep up with demand, with programs sometimes relying on grants and volunteers. It is the the responsibility of all levels of government (state, county, and local) to step in and ensure the wellbeing of its residents. While Aurora has several services geared towards seniors, including a recreation center, housing assistance, and a commission dedicated to seniors, it should also help fill the gap in senior transportation.

Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?

A) Yes. Bicycling has gained in popularity and with the opening of the R line, new choices for getting around are available to those who are able to take advantage. It is, however, unsafe and oftentimes difficult for bicyclists to take to the roads, which disincentivizes their use. Including bike lanes is not only good for the environment and traffic in that it takes cars off the road, but it is also smart planning as Aurora works towards becoming a more interconnected city.

Q) The East Colfax corridor has long been a challenge. Many say that without a substantial infusion of cash for urban renewal and incentives, little will change. Should Aurora create a special a funded urban renewal district to purchase and select portions of the East Colfax corridor and enhance the work of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, or should Aurora stay the course because, it is what it is?

A) I support the city being proactive in renewing the East Colfax corridor, however I have concerns about doing so through Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The opportunity costs associated with TIFs, along with the potential for abuse of eminent domain, gentrification, and other issues make it a less desirable approach. That said, I would like to see the continued enhancement of the Aurora Cultural Arts District.

Allison Hope Hiltz Endorsements

coming soon

Allison Hope Hiltz Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

1. What food do you hate most? Shrimp

2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Anne Hathaway

4. What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Table Tennis

5. What was your favorite childhood candy? Candy corn

6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Fin

8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke  counts. Maggie May by Rod Stewart

9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? “…. but my persistence had no bounds.” (from Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls)

10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? It depends. Is the “seam” of the bun broken?

11. What is the last concert you attended? Howie Day

12. What movie do you never tire of watching? Newsies

13. Dogs or cats? Dogs

14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? Our diversity. While Aurora is known for being diverse, I don’t think it is fully appreciated, nor celebrated, by those outside of engaged community members.

 

Allison Hope Hiltz Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $0.00

2. Total Contributions — $15,773.86

3. Total Receipts — $15,773.86

4. Total Expenditures — $15,721.83

5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $52.03

6. Total In-kind Contributions — $218.55

David Gruber Bio & Issues Q&A

At-large candidate Dave Gruber is a U.S. Air Force veteran. The Air Force Academy first brought him to Colorado in 1976. He later returned when he was assigned to Buckley Air Force base. While working at Buckley, Gruber got involved with the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. There, he was the chairman of the board from 2009 to 2015. Since retirement from the Air Force Guber has served as an executive for several Colorado companies and on many boards, including the Aurora Citizens Advisory Budget Committee. He also holds master’s degrees from the University of California and Air War College, a senior professional military university.

 

QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO YOUR ELECTION RACE:

Q) Green lights or red lights? Photo red-light cameras in Aurora continue to be controversial, especially since a body of state lawmakers continue to threaten to make them illegal. As a city lawmaker, would you recommend the city continue its own program?

A) I understand the safety concerns, but I am not a fan of red-light cameras.

 

Q) Denver has agreed to allow some bars and coffee shops the open use of marijuana, or to create private cannabis clubs. Would you permit them? If not, why? If yes, how?

A) I believe it is still too early to support marijuana use in public bars and coffee shops.  I understand and support the will of the voters regarding MJ use.  My concern is the large number of grow houses the police constantly discover, the increase in crime, and the impact on schools.  I would let Denver experiment with MJ bars, and then study the results.

 

Q)  Aurora is growing rapidly at nearly 350,000 people. Developers are looking to annex thousands of acres east of city boundaries that could become residential and some commercial development associated with  Denver International Airport. Do you believe the city should continue to annex large tracts of land?

A)Long before I was a budding politician, I was a senior military officer.  I learned then that the answer to complex questions with many secondary impacts is and was: it depends.

New housing areas are net losers for the city.  The city absorbs the responsibility of maintaining the neighborhood’s infrastructure forever, but the individual houses pay less than 9 mills to the city.  That isn’t enough money to pay for future road and infrastructure maintenance.  The families in those houses do pay other taxes that support city operations, so it is always better to convince Aurora families to shop in Aurora stores.  We’re also struggling to support the people and property we already have in the City.  Given this view, I would not support annexations.

On the other hand, developers are going to develop unincorporated Arapahoe County, and there is a strong possibility that those neighborhoods will someday ask to be annexed by Aurora.  If the City does bring them in, the City will not receive any of the benefits it may have received if Aurora had been in the planning process.  In other words, if Aurora had annexed the property before construction.

These different views, and other factors such as water and business location, must be considered before any annexation.  The results of that analysis is what I would use to make a decision for a particular parcel.

 

Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?

A) No.  We currently lack the tax base, even if we were a county, required to create all the facilities and programs a county designation would create.

 

Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?

A) Ensure RTD meets its commitment to provide continuous service on the R-Line

 

Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?

A) I do not believe additional city laws would make an impact.  We need robust enforcement of the laws already in place.

 

Q) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what can be done differently? Is it important?

A) Our marketing could and should improve.  We can focus on those attractions we have that would pull people to Aurora.  It’s important because our tax base is substantially dependent upon retail sales.  We need our citizens, and as many other people as possible, to buy things in Aurora.

 

Q) Should residents who don’t shovel the snow on their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall face stiffer penalties to ensure compliance to protect pedestrians?

A) Yes, I would consider stiffer penalties, with a rebuttal process, for homeowners who don’t shovel their sidewalks.  Obviously homeowners with disabilities or health issues should be handled differently.

 

Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city?

A) I’m pleased with the leadership of Gov Hickenlooper and the resulting agreement with the oil and gas industry.  I believe the Governor properly defined drilling controls.

 

Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?

A) I’m satisfied with Aurora’s sign code as it stands.

 

Q) Should Aurora limit or ban giving financial incentives to businesses in an effort to lure them to Aurora? An example where large incentives were offered include the Gaylord and Amazon projects. Critics call these “corporate welfare,” but proponents say they’re a critical part of economic development and creating jobs.

A) I support smart incentives, but not corporate welfare.  The Stanley Marketplace is a good example where incentives have turned a challenged area in north Aurora into one of the hottest real-estate markets in the country.  The Gaylord will also make a huge benefit.  Although we won’t collect all of the bed-tax we might have, the Gaylord will pay full sales tax on food and entertainment. It will also result in many new hotels and venues in the area that will also pay full tax.  Without the Gaylord deal, none of these other businesses would come.

We should not pay every incoming business an incentive.  Once an area is made desirable, businesses will come with or without incentives.

 

Q) Despite improvements in working with county government to ensure services for Aurora residents, problems remain, including transportation for many senior residents. What’s the answer, or should the city stay out of the problem?

A) Aurora has a responsibility to our seniors and we should continue working the problem with the counties.  A good example is what we have done with homelessness.  Even though this is a county and not a municipal government issue, Aurora has provided resources and personnel to help alleviate the issue.  We can do the same with senior transportation.

 

Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?

A) I’m an avid cyclist myself, but I do not believe we should reconfigure Peoria or Chambers.  We have congestion on those roads as is.  Limiting the number of lanes or taking action that will result in more vehicle or bicycle accidents is not something I would support.

 

Q) The East Colfax corridor has long been a challenge. Many say that without a substantial infusion of cash for urban renewal and incentives, little will change. Should Aurora create a special a funded urban renewal district to purchase and select portions of the East Colfax corridor and enhance the work of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, or should Aurora stay the course because, it is what it is?

A) Fax on Colfax and other initiatives have not worked to resolve the issues on Colfax.  I believe we should support business growth in the area through some incentives, but I would not support a substantial infusion of new money.  We are facing a twenty-million-dollar annual shortfall in road maintenance.  That would take priority in my mind.

David Gruber Endorsements

coming soon

David Gruber Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

1.What food do you hate most? Octopus

2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Kevin Costner

4. What Olympic Sport do you wish you could win gold at? Skiing

5. What was your favorite childhood candy? Bubble gum

6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The birth of Jesus Christ

7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Colonel

8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Bohemian Rhapsody – you didn’t say it had to be sung well

9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? A well lived life

10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Yes

11. What is the last concert you attended? Credence Clearwater Revival at Hudson Gardens

12. What movie do you never tire of watching? Final Countdown about an aircraft carrier that went back in time

13. Dogs or cats? Dogs

14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? Potential

David Gruber Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $3,172.45
2. Total Contributions — $14,117.95
3. Total Receipts — $17,290.40
4. Total Expenditures — $3,050.64
5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $14,239.76
6. Total In-kind Contributions — $700.00

Thomas Tobiassen Bio & Issues Q&A

Tom Tobiassen and his wife have lived in Aurora for nearly 30 years. The at-large candidate is an engineer for Zeta Associates, a Lockheed Martin company that provides communications signals and processing systems. Tobiassen has served on several community boards, including the RTD board of directors, where he has held several positions from 2009 through 2016. Currently, he is a member of the City of Aurora Citizens’ Water Advisory Committee. This year, the Aurora Chamber of Commerce named Tobiassen ‘Man of the Year.’

QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO YOUR ELECTION RACE:

 

Q) Green lights or red lights? Photo red-light cameras in Aurora continue to be controversial, especially since a body of state lawmakers continue to threaten to make them illegal. As a city lawmaker, would you recommend the city continue its own program?

A) No one likes to get a red light ticket, but this technology is a good reminder to slow down and be more cautious at intersections.  Independent studies suggest that t-bone accidents that result in serious injury are reduced when red light cameras are utilized.  Based on the current information, I support red light enforcement, but will continue to consider the data and comments from the public to make the best decisions for our city and the safety of our citizens.  This is of the utmost concern to me.  

Q) Denver has agreed to allow some bars and coffee shops the open use of marijuana, or to create private cannabis clubs. Would you permit them? If not, why? If yes, how?
A) I believe that cannabis use at bars, clubs or restaurants is a new use that needs to go through a comprehensive planning process that includes public involvement and zoning changes before it could be introduced. I support an open and inclusive process by Aurora residents and businesses. 
Q) Aurora is growing rapidly at nearly 350,000 people. Developers are looking to annex thousands of acres east of city boundaries that could become residential and some commercial development associated with  Denver International Airport. Do you believe the city should continue to annex large tracts of land?
A) My motto is that we manage growth or growth will manage us. Every ten years Aurora updates the Comprehensive Plan and studies the growth boundaries.  The update asks residents for input and the draft plan is reviewed numerous times to ensure that we have a good vision for our future. Annexing land in a planned fashion can enhance our ability to create good, sustainable jobs, affordable housing while controlling the impacts on water and our roads. I support annexation that goes through our rigorous comprehensive planning process.
Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?
A) Arapahoe and Adams counties have been great partners in moving Aurora forward for many decades, delivering valuable services to our citizens and businesses.  As I look to the future of our city, I would not rule out Aurora forming its own county.  However, an in depth effort to determine if this will help Aurora reach its goals will be needed so that we make the best decision for the city.  
Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?
A) Keeping the Aurora R-Line Light Rail running is of major concern to me and I have been working to see that is continues to serve our region.The other pressing transportation need is fixing the traffic jam that forms every morning at the junction of I-225 and I-25. It is a serious CDOT issue that impacts travelers across the metro area every day. 
Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?
A) Gun violence takes a toll on many families and we need to work on ways to proactively provide better mental health care to those who need it and may become a risk to themselves or others.  I feel that as a city we can further utilize the crisis management resources available like Aurora Mental Health.  We can also ensure that our first-responders have training in identifying and handling people suffering from mental health issues.  Of course, enforcing gun safety laws that are in place today is essential as well.   
Q) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what can be done differently? Is it important?
A) The image of Aurora has improved over the 29 years that Carol and I have lived here and it is important that we continue to show the world all that Aurora has to offer. The teams at Visit Aurora, the Chamber of Commerce, the Aurora Economic Development Council and the City of Aurora are out every day marketing our city. Because of this, we attract new companies, residents, and tourists to come and do business in Aurora. Aurora is a great place to live, work, raise a family and have fun. I want to continue telling our story so that everyone sees the value of our city.
Q) Should residents who don’t shovel the snow on their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall face stiffer penalties to ensure compliance to protect pedestrians?
A) As an RTD Board member representing Aurora, I frequently received calls from residents with disabilities that could not get to their bus stop to go to school or work. Often I would take a shovel and clear a path for constituents that use wheel chairs or walkers myself. I am also a volunteer for Aurora Snow Busters and clear the snow for an elderly neighbor so that she can be code compliant. We need to enforce clearing sidewalks but I would give people 48 hours before issuing a citation.
Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city?
A) Aurora should comply with state law and enforce building codes like any other business. Aurora should work with drillers to minimize impacts on surrounding communities by locating roads and pipelines as far away from neighborhoods as possible and mitigate dust and noise to the fullest extent possible.
Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?
A) I feel that Aurora’s sign height and size code is reasonable.  When I was a Planning Commissioner, I often heard requests for sign waivers from businesses and churches. With neighborhood involvement through the public hearing process, sign waivers can be requested and approved if there are no significant impacts on the surrounding community.
Q) Should Aurora limit or ban giving financial incentives to businesses in an effort to lure them to Aurora? An example where large incentives were offered include the Gaylord and Amazon projects. Critics call these “corporate welfare,” but proponents say they’re a critical part of economic development and creating jobs.
A) First, it’s important to note that a very small percentage of businesses coming to Aurora receive any incentive at all.  In order to bring larger companies to Aurora that drive immensely positive economic impact through paid taxes, high-quality jobs, etc., incentives are a necessary tool.  Incentives are often the deciding factor for businesses to locate in one city versus another.  Furthermore, projects like Gaylord and Amazon are catalysts – they indicate to other companies that Aurora is a great place to do business.  Just these two projects alone are adding thousands of jobs for our residents.  So by incentivizing a few, select projects, we in turn drive much farther reaching economic development, benefiting our entire city.  That said, I believe in continuing to review projects on a case-by-case basis. After studying the pros and cons of each proposal, Aurora should use incentives when the benefit outweighs the cost of the incentive. We are competing with cities and towns across the nation as we work to attract high quality companies to come to Aurora. Let’s not let good opportunities pass us by.
Q) Despite improvements in working with county government to ensure services for Aurora residents, problems remain, including transportation for many senior residents. What’s the answer, or should the city stay out of the problem?
A) Transportation for seniors and people with disabilities is an ongoing challenge. Government-provided transportation is expensive. In some senior communities around Aurora, entrepreneurs have stepped up to fill in the transportation gap. These creative people not only provide transportation to seniors for shopping, doctor visits, etc. they also provide non-health care related assistance for chores around the home. As an Aurora Council member, I would work with senior service providers and small businesses to utilize technology in a way that can help provide efficient, affordable transportation and other services to our senior community.
Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?
A) Members of Bicycle Aurora and other bicycle riders around the city participated in the writing of the Aurora Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. This plan is well thought out and written by professionals in the field with many years of experience and adopted by City Council in 2012. The bicycle pedestrian plan takes into account the very diverse needs and levels of bicycle riding experience that we have Aurora. The plan also lays out a network of safe, connected and logical bike routes that are both on-street lanes and off-street trails. I personally have participated in the development of this document and support the build out of the network as described in the plan. Bike routes that run on side streets parallel to busy roads like Peoria and Chambers are in the plan. The plan can be found on the City of Aurora web site.
Q) The East Colfax corridor has long been a challenge. Many say that without a substantial infusion of cash for urban renewal and incentives, little will change. Should Aurora create a special a funded urban renewal district to purchase and select portions of the East Colfax corridor and enhance the work of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, or should Aurora stay the course because, it is what it is?
A) East Colfax is very rich in diversity as is the entire City of Aurora, and this diversity is one of our strongest assets. That said, I am not in favor of using eminent domain or taxpayer funds to acquire property for urban renewal along E. Colfax. With some support and creative solutions, the diversity of East Colfax could be leveraged as more of an asset to our community.
My vision for East Colfax is to first reduce transportation issues and increase safety along the corridor.  I plan on working with the Ward I Council Member, residents, and businesses along East Colfax to reduce traffic congestion by improving public transportation and by finding alternate routes for traffic not destined for the corridor.  Safety is a major concern also, and I will work to introduce technology that allows the police department to proactively detect and respond quickly to all events.  I would support efforts to increase police presence on the street and will work collaboratively with city staff, City Council, and other organizations in every way possible to improve East Colfax’s image and make it a safe, friendly, and fun place to visit and do business.  
Thomas Tobiassen Endorsements

coming soon

Thomas Tobiassen Personality Q&A
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:
1. What food do you hate most?  Lima beans
2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No, I have a security clearance.
3. Who would play you in a movie about your life?  Tom Hanks
4. What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at?  Road cycling
5. What was your favorite childhood candy?  Neccos
6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? 9/11, I would have liked to be alongside the first responders who saved so many lives.
7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Road Rider
8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts.  New York –  New York  –  Frank Sinatra
9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? What’s next?
10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? No,  it’s a hot dog.
11. What is the last concert you attended? Lucero and Paper Bird at the Botanic Gardens
12. What movie do you never tire of watching? Forest Gump, my dad loved it
13. Dogs or cats? Both! Especially when they are best buddies.
14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? Everything. My wife, Carol and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Thomas Tobiassen Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $26,907.96
2. Total Contributions — $4,342.40
3. Total Receipts — $31,250.36
4. Total Expenditures — $28,273.36
5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $2,977.00
6. Total In-kind Contributions — $0.00

Reid Hettich Bio & Issues Q&A

At-large candidate Reid Hettich, who lives in Ward I, was the last candidate to jump in the race. He helped create the Mosaic Church in North Aurora with funds from the Wesleyan Church denomination. He is now the lead pastor at the church. Previously Hettich was the lead pastor at Cherry Creek Wesleyan Church, where he worked for 27 years. Hettich graduated from Oklahoma Wesleyan University in 1977.

QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO YOUR ELECTION RACE:
Q) Green lights or red lights? Photo red-light cameras in Aurora continue
to be controversial, especially since a body of state lawmakers continue
to threaten to make them illegal. As a city lawmaker, would you
recommend the city continue its own program?
A) Not in its current form. The program has had some benefits. I am concerned
though with the increased encroachment into our personal privacy by having
“government” cameras throughout the community. I am also concerned with the
inability for the citizens to exercise their constitutional right to face their accuser. I
may vote to approve a scaled back version of the program to allow a few cameras in
strategic locations. I would seek significant input from my neighbors before casting
that vote.
Q) Denver has agreed to allow some bars and coffee shops the open
use of marijuana, or to create private cannabis clubs. Would you permit
them? If not, why? If yes, how?
A) I would not. There is already too much confusion about what is legal and there
is not enough research abut the long term consequences of personal use of
marijuana and the impact it has on the community.
Q) Aurora is growing rapidly at nearly 350,000 people. Developers are
looking to annex thousands of acres east of city boundaries that could
become residential and some commercial development associated with
Denver International Airport. Do you believe the city should continue to
annex large tracts of land?
A) The new annexations and corresponding development plans are some of the
most important decisions that City Council will be making in the coming days. Those
plans could have a significant impact on all of us for many years. Because the issue
is so important, I think we should proceed with great caution. I do not philosophically
oppose annexations or development but I do think that the details are vitally
important. I am concerned with the infrastructure development City services costs
associated with the proposed development. Before approving any plans, I would want
to better understand the timeline of these costs and have a carefully crafted
agreement that would outline the plan for paying these additional costs. I would not
favor current residents shouldering significant portions of those costs.
Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?
A) I like the concept of consolidating city and county functions and services. However, the
suggested costs of that transition appear to greater than the current benefits.
Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?
A) The improvement and maintenance of city streets.
Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce
gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?
A) I don’t see any laws on the city level that would reduce gun violence.
Q) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what
can be done differently? Is it important?
A) I think the city does a reasonable good job of marketing itself and wouldn’t
advocate for significant changes.
Q) Should residents who don’t shovel the snow on their sidewalks within
24 hours of a snowfall face stiffer penalties to ensure compliance to
protect pedestrians?
A) If enforced, I think the current laws are adequate.
Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to
oil and gas drilling in the city?
A) I think the City should set appropriate distances that drilling can take place
from residences. I also believe the City should be careful to make sure that
infrastructure costs from drilling aren’t the responsibility of the residents.
Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive,
less restrictive or left as it is?
A) I would leave it as is.
Q) Should Aurora limit or ban giving financial incentives to businesses
in an effort to lure them to Aurora? An example where large incentives
were offered include the Gaylord and Amazon projects. Critics call these
“corporate welfare,” but proponents say they’re a critical part of
economic development and creating jobs.
The City should be involved in bringing business and jobs to the area. I’d like
the city to consider a couple of issues into the details of those agreements: (1)
A) Companies should be required to design systems that would ensure that people from
our communities get the jobs that are being created, and (2) we should make sure
that we are not creating an unfair competitive advantage to these new companies. If
current Aurora Companies are forced out of business because of the incentives, our
community doesn’t win.
Q) Despite improvements in working with county government to ensure
services for Aurora residents, problems remain, including transportation
for many senior residents. What’s the answer, or should the city stay out
of the problem?
A) The City should continue working with county and state government to
alleviate these problems. The City is not and cannot be the sole solution.
Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or
Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?
A) We should be Iooking at all options to improve traffic and movement in the
community. Although I think we need to add bicycle lanes, I would not favor making
major streets such as Peoria or Chambers bicycle only streets.
Q) The East Colfax corridor has long been a challenge. Many say that
without a substantial infusion of cash for urban renewal and incentives,
little will change. Should Aurora create a special a funded urban
renewal district to purchase and select portions of the East Colfax
corridor and enhance the work of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, or
should Aurora stay the course because, it is what it is?
A) I do not think that Aurora should infuse a significant amount of additional cash
into the area. I think the City’s role should be to carefully analyze the effectiveness of
its current investments and to manage some of the natural economic influences. The
City should
Reid Hettich Endorsements

coming soon

Reid Hettich Personality Q&A
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:
1. What food do you hate most? No beets, please
2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No
3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Matthew Perry
4. What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Pole Vault
5. What was your favorite childhood candy? M&Ms
6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it
be? The very first day
7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Mustang
8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car
karaoke counts. “Dream the Impossible Dream”
9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? He didn’t care about his epithet
10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? You have meat, you have bread… I think you have a sandwich
11. What is the last concert you attended?
12. What movie do you never tire of watching? My Cousin Vinnie
13. Dogs or cats? I have recently and unexpectedly become a cat person
14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? Great neighbors
Reid Hettich Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

coming soon