2017 CITY COUNCIL: Race for Ward III pits conservative incumbent city lawmaker against a host of progressive challengers


AURORAWard III incumbent Marsha Berzins is hoping to serve another term on Aurora City Council. But four others are wanting to represent the district: Naquetta Ricks, former at-large councilwoman Debi Hunter Holen, Robert Hargove and Martha Lugo.

 Among Berzins’ top accomplishments so far in office is the removal of the old Fan Fare building on Havana Street., as well as helping that area with “issues related to crime and homelessness,” according to her campaign website.

“My vision for Ward III is to make sure everyone – regardless of their station in life – has an equal and fair opportunity for individual success to provide for themselves and their families,” Berzins says on her campaign website. “Securing the opportunity to succeed for Aurora’s employers, entrepreneurs, employees, retirees and our students is at the core of my belief in public service.”

With that, Berzins said she realizes the city doesn’t create jobs, but helps create the platform that makes businesses successful and able to create more jobs. So keeping taxes low and “bureaucracy in check,” is important to her.

Ricks, who grew up in Aurora after moving from Liberia with her family, has spent her career working in finance, and thus wants to bring accountability to the city budget.

“I will lead efforts to bring more accountability and transparency to city hall, work to cut wasteful spending, and advance efforts to root out fraud, tax abuses and cronyism in city departments,” her campaign website says.

While she gives no specific examples on her site or in candidate forums of wasteful spending, fraud, tax abuse of cronyism, she does say a sense of transparency is needed in Aurora city government.

Ricks also believes Ward III’s infrastructure has been neglected. As a council member she said she wants to fix roads, sidewalks and eliminate neighborhood blight.

Hunter Holen wants to return to city council, but this time serving a ward, rather than her previous post as an at-large candidate. Like several other candidates throughout the various races, Hunter Holen supports smart growth.

“A city without growth dies,” she said in a candidate questionnaire.

Adding on her campaign website, “as Aurora continues to grow and develop, we need leadership that will take the long view.”

Hunter Holen also holds education as a top priority, saying that Aurora should do all it can to retain good teachers to the area.

Hargrove has been elusive during the campaign. He hasn’t responded to Aurora Sentinel questionnaires or participated in candidate forums, but on his website he lists education as his top priority.

“This particular issue has been increasingly gaining coverage all over the world. Why exactly? It is an issue that needs to be addressed, and heavily discussed among politicians, lobbyists, and congressmen alike,” Hargrove’s website says.

Other than “pushing for change,” he doesn’t outline any specifics on education reform.

Hargrove also points out health care as a major concern on his candidate website.

“I want to ensure that everyone who needs assistance in health can get it by pointing them in the right direction for resources such as free clinics and information on health discounts.”

Lugo was a probation officer in the 18th Judicial District Probation Department for 10 years. Currently, in addition to finishing up a Ph.D degree she serves on the Aurora Human Relations Commission and the Immigrant and Refugee Commission.

Her reason for running is to put the people first, she says on her website. Among other goals, she wants the community to have more access to services, steer the city toward being more environmentally friendly and support gender and racial equality.

Some of the hot topics that emerged during interviews and in forums with the candidates were homelessness, Aurora’s stance on immigration policy and transportation.

On homelessness, Hargrove’s campaign website says the city must act.

“Over my years of being a resident of the city of Aurora, I realized that there are not too many resources for the homeless individual in our community,” his said. “I drive up and down Sable Blvd. and I say to myself, ‘Something needs to change or we need to figure out how to help change the mindset of the individuals that are homeless so that we can help them help their self.’”

Berzins lists diversity as one of her major visions for the Ward III.

“With over 100 languages spoken in our public schools, I believe our diversity should be celebrated in every aspect of things we do in the city,” her campaign website says. “We are truly a national model for successfully welcoming so many of the world’s hard-working and law abiding immigrants.”

While Berzins was a council member in favor of sending a resolution supporting the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to a committee for further development and encouraged other city council members to lobby federal lawmakers, she said during a candidate forum she is in favor or finding a permanent fix for DACA.

“I think a resolution would send a strong message,” Hunter Holen said during the Channel 8 candidate forum, adding that lobbying would be a good follow-up.

Lugo, who champions herself as a progressive candidate, said she also supports DACA and would be in favor of Aurora adopting the title of “sanctuary city,” which city officials have voted down in the past.

Hargrove doesn’t list anything on his website specific to immigration.

On transportation, Hunter Holen said in a candidate questionnaire general maintenance should be the biggest concern, followed by “the expansion and widening of 6th Avenue and thirdly, develop a creative way to fund the first/last mile concept. And somewhere in there, provide safe lanes for bicycles.”

Lugo said traffic is a major concern, while Ricks said public transportation’s reach, specifically in Ward III, needs to be addressed.

“There should be more fluidity, especially during peak traffic hours,” Lugo said in a candidate questionnaire.

Marsha Berzins Bio & Issue Q&A
Incumbent Marsha Berzins has been a resident of Ward III since she moved there in 1979. A short time later she was married and started a family. Berzins, who attended the University of Alabama and Park College, has worked in a number of industries, including airline, retail and property management. She also helps run a family business in Ward III. Berzins was first elected in 2009.
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’ve always been opposed to using 10 red light cameras out of 14 in Ward 3.  The study of the most dangerous intersections was done in 1999 and the intersections were chosen out of that group.  It’s not equitable for 10 out of 14 to be in one area since the city has grown south and east.  I would prefer to have all of them in the city removed, but if the majority of council votes to keep them, the next best thing would be is to have them spread out equally in the city.  
I don’t believe the city should socially re-engineer people’s driving habits. It’s not Council’s job!  If the state legislature bans cameras, Aurora must follow their rules.  No, I don’t think Aurora should continue its red light camera program if the state bans them.  That’s a law suit waiting to happen.  If a person breaks a driving rule, they should get a ticket from a person, not a machine.
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 must follow state rules set in Amendment 64.  If there is a change, I believe we should have a discussion and decide what’s best for Aurora.  Some of the precincts in Ward 3 voted 70% in favor of retail MJ. Does that mean they want open use or private clubs?  I’d like to have  meetings set up to discuss and listen to what my citizens want.
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 city has always annexed land for future growth.  Planned growth through the Comprehensive Plan is the way for controled growth.  Planned growth is also the way to be pro-active.  We know people are moving into Aurora and we must consider all the factors involved, such as water, infrastructure, transportation, schools, public safety and available housing and jobs.  Planning for the future is part of Council’s job.  
Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?
A) Yes, I do as long as it doesn’t raise taxes for Aurorans.  Aurora sets in 3 counties which receive the funds for social programs, not Aurora.  I believe Aurora knows the needs of Aurorans, not Douglas County, not Adams County and not Arapahoe County.  Being its own city and county would make many things more streamline for its citizens.  We’ve recently done a new study on how this would be implemented and the estimated costs.  I think it could be a win-win for everyone.  
Q) Most pressing transportation need?
A) It’s hard to narrow it down to only one need.  I can lump them into the categories of double turn lanes at numerous intersections and widening several streets.  I think people are tired of sitting in traffic and would like to get where they need to go.  We have the new light rail system, but that doesn’t fit into everyone’s schedule.  We have bike and pedestrian lanes, but again that won’t work for many.  Getting people from A to B in the quickest, safest way is the need. In Ward 3, I’d say it’s widening the Alameda bridge over I225 so traffic doesn’t bottleneck.
Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?
A) Aurora already requires a training class and a background check before someone can get a concealed carry permit.  The state and county have set up other rules.  We also have no carry zones.  Aurora follows the state and federal rules.  
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 always had a problem shedding the image of a bedroom community for Denver and a crime-ridden city.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Aurora is one of the safest cities in the US.  That’s not to say we don’t have crime.  Of course we do, but other cities have it too. Unfortunately, when something happens in Aurora, some media over-emphasize it.                                                                                                                                                         I think our image is important for helping to bring in businesses who provide jobs, realtors to sell homes and developers who want to build for our citizens. We’ve recently hired a company to help change our brand, but it’s a multi-year project.
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) It’s very important for us to shovel our sidewalks within 24 hours.  Code Enforcement does ticket violators.  One of the problems we have is the snow trucks or large trucks coming by after the sidewalk is clean and pushing up new snow or ice on the clean sidewalk.  With the melting and freezing of water/slush, it’s very hard for our citizens and businesses to keep their walks clear. Citizens can call Access Aurora 303-739-7000 to turn in addresses where the sidewalk hasn’t been cleaned.  We also have a volunteer program, Snow Busters, with people who shovel for the elderly or disabled.  They’re always looking for volunteers.
Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city?
A) Aurora must follow all the rules from the State of Colorado on oil and gas drilling.  The city can only make rules for above ground issues from drilling, such as roads, water, fences, air quality testing, etc. 
 
Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?
A) Our sign code has gone through several changes in the past few years.  I think we need rules on signage but still allow leeway for businesses.  We want Aurora to look professional and neat. If a business needs more signage, they can always ask for a waiver.
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) If all states were the same, we could negotiate on the same playing field. But, they aren’t.  Colorado has strict rules as to what a city can offer in incentives to lure a business from one state to another. Some cities also have their own restrictions. Our Economic Development Council will work with a company who is considering coming to Aurora to see if we can help them make their decision. They’re all different. The whole picture needs to be considered as to how many jobs they’ll bring in, construction dollars they’ll add, will they purchase the building materials locally, will other businesses locate around them and bring in more jobs, will they bring in dollars from other parts of the country, on and on. The theory of “corporate welfare” is in a perfect world with no competition. It just doesn’t work that way in the real world. Businesses that bring in lots of revenues and jobs are heavily sought after.  
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) I believe we need to help our senior citizens as much as possible. They’ve lived here and paid their taxes for many years.Plus, many of them are veterans. That’s why Council is looking to add $80,000 to the city budget in 2018 for added transportation needs for senior citizens. 
Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?
A) Last year I served as Chair of our Transportation Policy Committee where we discussed in depth the bicycle needs of Aurorans. Aurora has expanded bike paths in the city, but the numbers say that less than .5% of citizens ride bikes. We’ve added bike lanes on many of our streets but shutting down Peoria or Chambers to cars and making them bicycles only is not a project Aurora is ready to do. Aurora gets its share of ice and snow several months of the year virtually making Peoria or Chambers unusable for bicycles. We have too much motor vehicle traffic to let that happen.
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’d love to see the East Colfax corridor revitalized, but I think we need to let the market do it, not the city.  Where would Aurora get the money?  Look at the Stanley and surrounding area.  All it took was the right people to purchase the Stanley Aviation building, redevelop it, work with the city on the area surrounding and look what we have now.  The redevelopment area goes from 25th east to Peoria and 25th down to Montview.  I don’t think the city should step in at this time.  I do think the city should work with any developers or investors who have an interest in upgrading the Colfax corridor.
Marsha Berzins Endorsements

Coming soon

Marsha Berzins Personality Q&A
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:
What food do you hate most? None.  I’m grateful to have anything to eat.
Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No
Who would play you in a movie about your life? Meryl Streep
What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Ice dancing
What was your favorite childhood candy? Homemade taffy
If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The discussions and signing of our Constitution.
If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? According to my track coach, it’s Marshmallow
If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston
What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? She loved her God, family and serving others.
Is a hot dog a sandwich? Why not – tube steak on a bun.
What is the last concert you attended? Luciano Pavarotti
What movie do you never tire of watching?  True Grit
Dogs or cats? Dogs, David and Goliath
What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? Job opportunities

Marsha Berzins Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $54,783.89
2. Total Contributions — $17,645.00
3. Total Receipts — $72,428.89
4. Total Expenditures — $34,843.96
5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $37,584.93
6. Total In-kind Contributions — $0.00

Robert L. Hargrove Bio & Issues Q&A

Robert Hargrove is a bounty hunter seeking the Ward III city council seat. He has previously worked in customer service, security and in warehouses. The candidate earned his GED from the Emily Griffith Opportunity School in 2004. In 2013, he graduated with an associate’s degree in computer information systems. Hargrove has volunteer with local non-profit organization The Road Called Strate and Hi Mom I Am Home, both focused toward families and improving children’s lives.

 

Robert L. Hargrove Endorsements

coming soon

Robert L. Hargrove Personality Q&A

No response.

 

Robert L. Hargrove Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

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

2. Total Contributions — $20.00

3. Total Receipts — $20.00

4. Total Expenditures — $20.00

5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $0.00

6. Total In-kind Contributions — $0.00

Debra J. Hunter Holen Bio & Issues Q&A

Debi Hunter Holen wants to return to Aurora City Council as a Ward III representative. Hunter Holen was first elected to city council as an at-large member before she was edged out in 2015. While serving in council she was the assistant to the Chief of Equity and Engagement at the Aurora Public Schools district. Since 2015, she has been involved in several local boards, including Aurora Warms the Night, Aurora Public Schools Foundation and the Aurora Mental Health Board among others.

 

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, I would recommend its continuation.  I’ve always been a proponent of photo radar.  Major accidents can be avoided by folks not running lights.  Photo red-light cameras are a good deterrent to running lights.  What I appreciate about Aurora is that each potential violation is reviewed before sending the ticket.  
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 – out-of-state folks can buy marijuana yet cannot smoke it. Through thoughtful zoning and careful planning Aurora could allow private cannabis clubs.
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) Annexation is a complex concept.  Annexation for its own sake is not healthy for any city.  If it is done according to the City’s Master Plan, then yes.  And, as long as the City has the forethought of water, fire and police, (making sure it is in accordance to the Master Plan) then yes.  A city without growth dies.
Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?
A) Yes.  This is a topic that I’ve been in support of and felt the last study was a bit lacking and I ended up not voting to move forward.  That being said, through careful planning, a city and county of Aurora could thrive.  A city that contains three major counties does a disservice to its constituents, especially with delivery of services.  Folks need to travel to their respective county seat for some services which can provide major travel issues.  
 
Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?
A) First off, general maintenance of our roads.  Secondly, the expansion and widening of the 6th Avenue and thirdly, develop a creative way to fund the first/last mile concept.  And somewhere in there, provide safe lanes for bicycles.
Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?
A) I strongly believe in the Second Amendment for the right to bear arms.  However, the city has little to do with gun laws.  What the City CAN do is to encourage and support the state legislature in developing stricter laws on background checks.
Q) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what can be done differently? Is it important?
A) We are getting better – I think the present marketing plan has helped.  What we’ve not done well is erasing the negative image from the 80’s.
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 is a great example of poor marketing – the City has a program that folks can sign up for to help with their snow removal.  I believe that 24 hours for some folks is just not realistic.  And – I feel for the pedestrian who is navigating the un-shoveled walks.  They should not face stiffer penalties – and each household should be viewed on a case-by-case situation.
9. What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city? 
The COGCC has the control the permitting mineral rights.  What the City controls is the land usage.  In that regard, the City Planning Department can issue permits for the siting of oil production facilities.  I would work to help strengthen the requirements to ensure the safety and improve the environmental controls for these facilities.    
Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?
A) As is, for now.
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) The incentive programs were put into place to remain competitive with other cities nationwide. To remain competitive, incentive programs should be utilized on a case-by-case basis. TIFs should be used very judiciously. These incentives are particularly for the development of TODs.
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 answer is to collaborate with the county to provide services for seniors and others, including the first and last mile for mass transit opportunities. 
Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?
A) Yes.  This is one way to encourage alternative transportation to and from light rail and bus routes.
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) Yes.  East Colfax is a major gateway to and from Aurora.  Redevelopment in this area will help improve entertainment opportunities.  What the City needs to be aware of, is the need for protecting the cultural diversity of this area.  With careful planning, increased economic development and continued affordable housing opportunities, Aurora can grow while enhancing the cultural diversity of the City and its residents.    
Debra J. Hunter Holen Endorsements

coming soon

Debra J. Hunter Holen Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

What food do you hate most? Anchovies

Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No

Who would play you in a movie about your life? Candace Bergen

What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Figure Skating

What was your favorite childhood candy? 7-Up bars

If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The creation of the United Nations, October 24, 1945

If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Bright Light

If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Moon Dance

What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? She cared

Is a hot dog a sandwich? No

What is the last concert you attended? Buddy Guy with B.B. King

What movie do you never tire of watching?  The Princess Bride and The Christmas Story

Dogs or cats? Cats

What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? Its diversity.

 

Debra J. Hunter Holen Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $7,494.98
2. Total Contributions — $11,890.00
3. Total Receipts — $19,384.98
4. Total Expenditures — $4,928.26
5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $14,456.72
6. Total In-kind Contributions — $1,100.80

Martha Lugo Bio & Issues Q&A

Martha Lugo is a Ward III candidate, where she has been a resident since 2000. Lugo, now a organizational development and leadership Ph.D. candidate at the University of the Rockies, came to Colorado for her job as a probation officer. From 2000 to 2010 she was a sworn officer in the 18th Judicial District Probation Department. The El Paso, Texas, native is now a language interpreter for the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning.

 

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 believe in traffic safety, however, I do not believe in the privatization/for profit nature of these cameras. Independent studies have continually affirmed that they do no decrease red light running, in fact they increase crashes (National Motorists Association). I would increase the time for yellow lights and place more emphasis on the topic of the deadly consequences of running red lights during driver education courses (beginners and traffic violation classes). If I were outvoted and red-light cameras were reinstituted, I would be adamant about putting the funds from these violations back into our community – traffic safety classes for residents, activities for youth, community programs, literacy programs, etc. I would also strongly advocate for deprivatization of these money-making tactics.

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, alcohol is legal and has been for many years, therefore, we cannot discriminate marijuana users especially since it’s now legal.   I would follow the established norms for liquor licenses for bars and restaurants.

 

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) Only if it puts the people first by being socially responsible (kind to our planet and to our community).  If it provides income based housing, jobs that pay $20/hour minimum and is green, I’m all for it.  Otherwise, we cannot afford to continue with development that is ruining our planet, pricing people out of housing, and paying poverty wages.  Annexing near DIA is vastly different from annexing out on the plains of Ward II.  The proposed developments would require scrutiny before a proposal to annex is discussed which should only occur if the outcomes benefit Aurora residents.

 

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

A) I think it may be a good idea.  Whenever government can cut bureaucracy and excessive spending due to duplication of services, I will be completely on board.  This may also improve quality of services to residents.  It is extremely frustrating to call into a county office and consolidating may be a good response to this inadequacy.  It would also cut taxes, which is always a good thing for residents.  Ultimately, it would give Aurora more autonomy which is a great progressive move.

 

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

A) I would like to see better synchronization with traffic lights for improved traffic flow, it doesn’t make sense to stop at every traffic signal. There should be more fluidity, especially during peak traffic hours. I would also like to see our city offer more access to the light rail, for many folks, access is not convenient. RTD has not created more bus routes in our city, with the rate of growth, we need bus service in these growth areas. Also, I think it’s premature of RTD and their push to cut the R line.  Speaking in the short term context, the city should develop gap-filler transportation to get residents living further away from the R-line corridor to their nearest station.   We could create a program that is modeled by the Englewood Art Shuttle, or even the Castle Rock senior center shuttle.  Speaking mid to long term, the city must change its zoning guidelines to consider high density development that will be better serviced by multi-modal mass transit.

 

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

A) I believe the only thing the city can do is to continue with municipal laws regarding concealed carry vs. open carry.  I don’t know if anything the city can do will actually reduce gun violence.  As a former probation officer and mental health professional, I do believe that in addition to background checks, persons seeking a gun license should be required to undergo at minimum a mini mental status exam, this should be carried out nationwide.  We must be more proactive and less reactive when it comes to crime reduction, it is institutional poverty, systemic oppression, lack of mental health services, addiction, poverty wages, etc. that creates desperation in many.

 

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 believe that the city is doing ok, but could do better.  I believe we have to think outside the box when it comes to marketing.  A press release is no longer sufficient, however, social media and digital marketing isn’t sufficient by itself.  I believe the city can utilize foreign language newspapers, old fashioned flyers and posters as well as more community outreach via television and radio. Everyone is different and seeks their information through varying methods.

 

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) It depends on the person’s circumstances.  Those who are able-bodied and/or are able to pay for the snow removal service should be held accountable unless there are extenuating circumstances such as temporary disability or other issues that may impede acting upon the matter.  For elderly and those with disabilities, we have a Snow Busters however, we need to make it so it’s more easily accessed by those in need.  The maximum income allowed is extremely low (household income of $21,000 for one person, $27,000 for two people).  This excludes many who receive more income, but it doesn’t negate their need for the service.  I think this is arbitrary because it’s a volunteer program!  I believe adjustments need to be made to this because the cost of living has risen tremendously and perhaps go on a case by case basis.  Further, we should also have a mixture of paid staff and volunteers to do this work as solely relying on volunteers is not always guaranteed.

 

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

A) I would like to see a complete ban on fracking in the city and surrounding areas.  I believe we can push for clean energy.  This is one of the top reasons we must get money out of politics.  It’s a no-win situation as long as elected officials continue to advocate for corporations and not for the people and our planet.

 

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

A) I would like a review of the code to determine when it was last updated, I think some of it makes sense because we don’t want a crowding of signs that take from the beauty of our city.  I also believe that tasteful signs that convey information for businesses to share with the community are important to the success of these business and consumers seeking their services.

 

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) Absolutely!  We cannot continue to give tax incentives to corporations while neglecting our working-class taxpayers.  Further, bringing in corporations that pay $12/hour is not helping our community, these are poverty wages and only perpetuate the problem for those who can’t afford to rent or buy a home.  Invest more in our communities with those tax breaks – we have plenty of ways in which we can enrich the lives of our residents than by bringing corporations that do not put people first.  As a city, we should always put our people first!  We must get developer money out of politics as well, they are buying our elections with the premise that they are doing the city a favor.  Studies have affirmed that in the 90s, incentives were an effective manner in which to attract new business, however, this practice has become the demise for many cities because often the promises made by corporations are not kept.

 

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) I believe this should be a collaborative effort, because our seniors are a very important part of our community.  Other cities have a shuttle service and I believe we should look into a system like that.  Our seniors have paid taxes all their lives, they deserve to have transportation that is not a burden for them – financially, physically, or otherwise.

 

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

A) Yes, I believe we must continually think of our cyclists who enjoy our weather and our city.  It is a worthwhile investment to reduce emissions for our future.  A win-win situation!

 

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) We need to continually look for the future and be a progressive city, not only to enhance the work of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, but many other things that enrich the lives of our residents.  Once we change our current city council, we can lose the conservative mentality and start putting our people and planet first.  We can do great things for our people when we stop incentivizing large corporations.  We have funding, we just need to re-appropriate it in a socially responsible manner.

Martha Lugo Endorsements
Colorado People’s Action
Our Revolution Metro Denver
Denver Area Labor Federation
Working Families Party
Martha Lugo Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

What food do you hate most? Raw meat.

Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No, never have, probably never will, however, I would definitely use CBD oil.

Who would play you in a movie about your life? Gloria Estefan.

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

What was your favorite childhood candy? Toss-up between Jolly Rancher and Chick O Stick.

If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The swearing in of Sonia Sotomayor.

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

If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor (or anything by Gloria Estefan, or Selena).

What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? Martha lived her life in service to others, she was an outspoken champion for the people.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Not according to dictionary.com.

What is the last concert you attended? Michael Franti & Spearhead at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

What movie do you never tire of watching? Shawshank Redemption.

Dogs or cats? Cats!

What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? Richness in culture.

Martha Lugo Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

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

2. Total Contributions — $2,982.00

3. Total Receipts — $2,982.00

4. Total Expenditures — $999.79

5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $1,982.21

6. Total In-kind Contributions— $0.00

Naquetta Ricks Bio & Issues Q&A

Naquetta Ricks currently works as a senior mortgage consultant at Aurora-based American Financing. She has worked in finance since the early 90s, after she graduated from Metropolitan State University. She later received an MBA from the University of Colorado Denver. In 2016 Ricks was defeated in the primary for House District 42 in Aurora. In 2014 she also unsuccessfully ran for the CU Board of Regents. Ricks’ family immigrated to Aurora from Liberia when she was a child.

 

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,  I would recommend the program continues as it a strong component of the public safety program.  As a long time resident of Aurora,  I’ve seen our city populous increase dramatically leading to more congestion, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.  The locations of the red lights cameras in Aurora is at intersections where there is a greater preponderance of car accidents from speeding, reckless driving and running red lights resulting in fatal and life changing accidents.  Although tickets are often contested or dismissed the red light cameras have been effective in reducing the frequency of accidents and traffic violations.  The program also provides a substantial amount of funding to support police officers and local non profits.

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) Smoking of any kind is harmful and should be discouraged.  I believe private clubs could help alleviate complaints that Colorado’s sidewalks and public parks have been inundated with pot smokers since the state legalized recreational weed in 2012. However there is a lot of ambiguity in the current state law concerning private smoking venues. I would be interested in observing Denver’s pilot program and other local municipalities discussing implementation. Such initiatives could negatively affect AURORA’s family friendly image.

 

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) Annexation is about the ability of populated areas to accommodate, assimilate and service population growth.  The capacity of Aurora to annex emerging areas of development is critical to the ongoing sustainability of of communities.As our population continues to grow, there is greater demand for more homes, mores business investment, more jobs and services. It is through the dynamics of this economic process that jobs are created, income is generated and life styles are supported.

 

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

A) Aurora represents three different counties, county services such as child care assistance, foster care and other social services are difficult to access for all aurora residents. Becoming a county will provide better representation for Aurora at the county level. Only two of the five members on the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners represent the city of Aurora. Adams County has five commissioners with dismal representation from Aurora. Further there is no one from Aurora represented on the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. Currently money from the federal government requires state legislative action and focuses on counties and not on cities. With a growing demographic of Aurora residents seeking affordable housing, child care assistance and more there is a great need to develop a financially sustainable infrastructure at the county level that puts Aurora residents first.

 

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

A) There are many transportation issues facing Aurora. In Ward 3, the issue of RTD proposed  service level cuts to the “R” line is troubling to the working poor and working class who depend on the line for travel to and from work. We need to construct pedestrian bridges around the train stops as many residents are afraid and concerned about navigating around the train stops. Connectivity issues exists for traveling within Aurora from South Lands Mall to central Aurora and in and around Aurora and as we continue to grow East and do the urban sprawl. We need to ensure that our transportation plans make provision for the disabled and elderly transit riders and maximize federal dollars for transit oriented development along the Rail Line.

 

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

A) This is a state issue.  I believe in the second amendment. The best way to prevent violence is by making upstream investments in preschool of children, quality schools, job training and placement services and behavioral health services.  It’s important for the Aurora Police department to continue to develop and enhance relationships with residents, positive engagement is known to improve trust, conflict resolution  and prevent 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 believe Aurora should develop a 5-year roadmap to increase tourism.  This strategic planning process should include stakeholder interviews with meeting planners, convention attendees, tour operators, millennials and Aurora residents. Aurora has a unique opportunity to craft a strategy for tourism that celebrates our diversity and close access to beautiful outdoor spaces with boating, fishing, and hiking.

 

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) Property owners should be held accountable for the upkeep of their property throughout the year. However, enforcement can be difficult. I believe the citizens advisory committee should explore various avenues for to hold residents accountable for snow removal, allowing for a grace periord, warning system and help for senior citizen with disability and limited financial resources.

 

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

A) I would like to see Aurora have greater authority to add more staff for well monitoring, create a health complaint line, establish a mobile air quality monitoring unit and require the full disclosure of fracking chemicals that are used.

 

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

A) Less restrictive to include LED signage. LED signage will provide energy cost savings for business owners and could generate advertising revenue for the city of Aurora. as it is with more oversight and follow up. Currently all permanent signs erected in the city are required to first obtain a sign permit from the city of Aurora through a licensed sign contractor. This includes signs that are moved or altered from what was approved on the original permit. A permit is not required for text changes if there is no change to the physical design, sign area, or other changes.  I believe text changes to signs should be reviewed for approval and there should be more accountability in sign removal on public land.

 

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) Providing incentives to large corporations is critically to improving economic development, job creation and housing.  By having tax incentive policies it allows the city of Aurora be up-front with businesses, accountable to our residents and mitigate the appearance of cronyism. Tax incentive policies also help Aurora to compete with other cities in the Denver Metro area to attract large businesses to relocate to Aurora under “our terms and with our best interest in mind”. When tax incentives are considered, city staff project what the city stands to gain by the business coming, staying or expanding. These benefits are predominantly property tax revenue and other tax revenue associated with added employees that are expected to relocate to the city or be hired from the city’s existing populations.

 

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 has to get involved by working with DRCOG  and the federal government to access funding to improve transit options for the disabled, handicap and elderly. We must maximize housing development along the transit lines to create a place where people can work, live, and play.

 

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

A) No. Aurora has some of the best walking, running and bike trials that are interconnected the with other cities and counties.  Instead of making one street friendly to bikers, I believe we should invest in all of our trials, streets and outdoor recreation spaces to make it bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

 

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) Yes. Aurora should create a urban renewal district to provide additional funds for redevelopment and investment. Aurora is a growing community and all communities should be one where the residents can work, play and have a high quality of life. However this requires strategic investments in economic develop and innovative private and public partnerships. Over the last 5 years the Colfax corridor has seen a huge transformation throughout Denver, I believe with the East Corridor has the potential to become  a colorado hot-spot, known for ethnic eateries, cultural artifacts and artwork, and the performing arts.

Naquetta Ricks Endorsements

coming soon

Naquetta Ricks Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

1. What food do you hate most? Eggplant.

2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No.

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Taraji Hanson

4. What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Track and field.

5. What was your favorite childhood candy? My favorite candy is Snickers.

6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? I was fortunate to attend the inauguration of  President Barack Obama both times and it inspired me to know that I could also make a difference to help my community.

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

8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Thinking out Loud by Ed Sheeran.

9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? “Well done thy good and faithful Servant”

10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Yes it is.

11. What is the last concert you attended? I went to see the Beatles Tribute 1954 at Red Rocks in August.

12. What movie do you never tire of watching? The Sound of Music is one of my child hood favorites.

13. Dogs or cats? Both!  I have a beautiful cat named Snowflake.

14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? The location of Aurora and the beautiful eclectic mixture of people and cultures are underated by most people.

 

Naquetta Ricks Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

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

2. Total Contributions— $3,275.00

3. Total Receipts— $3,275.00

4. Total Expenditures — $140.00

5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $3,135.00

6. Total In-kind Contributions — $0.00