2017 CITY COUNCIL: Vast experience and enthusiasm colors race for Ward II


AURORA | Ward II will have a new representative come November, as Aurora City Councilwoman Renie Peterson is term limited. The five that are vying for the seat are: Bob Hagedorn, Nicole Johnston, Ruben Medina, Robert O’Riley and Jeff Wilson.

Hagedorn is mostly known for his time in the Colorado State Legislature. He represented Aurora as a Democrat in the Senate and the House during the ‘90s and early ‘00s where he was a champion of school, health care and criminal justice reform.

Now, he wants to serve the city as a councilman. Along the East Colfax corridor Hagedorn believes some type of business district could improve the area. Though, not something similar to the Stanley Marketplace. Hagedorn believes the Colfax corridor should appeal to millennials who crave value and diversity above everything else.

Since leaving the legislature, Hagedorn has been spending a fair share of time along Colfax Ave. He served as the president of the Aurora Cultural Arts District and helped create the ‘Fax Aurora business league.

Among other plans, Hagedorn wants to apply a more holistic approach to city government. While studying the improvements of one project, Hagedorn said he believes there should be a great deal of emphasis on how that project impacts other parts of the city or other areas of city government.

Johnston founded the East Aurora Community Development group after she learned of oil and gas drilling near her home, where she lives with her children. She now serves on the city’s oil and gas advisory committee, and supports the city having more control over where wells and production facilities are placed.

She’s also in favor of enforcing more safety regulations on each oil and gas site. She has stated she doesn’t believe the city is doing enough to regulate the industry.

“We also don’t want what happened at Firestone to happen in Aurora,” her campaign website says. “When it comes to public health and safety in our neighborhoods, let’s follow what is best for our families’ health as well as home values, not make decisions on what the oil and gas industry tells us.”

Among Johnston’s top priorities if elected to office is smart development, ensuring there is enough water and public safety for a growing community.

Peterson has endorsed Johnston to succeed her as the Ward II councilwoman.

For 10 years Medina oversaw the Meadow Wood and Expo Recreation Centers as a supervisor in Aurora. After leaving his job with the city, Medina decided to run for the Ward II council position.

Like other projects Medina has worked on, he sees council as an opportunity to use his networking skills and get people and organizations to work together. For him, bringing in community groups and organizations is a vital piece in bettering the city.

Additionally, Medina tends to favor the community having more of a say in how their government runs. During the Aurora Channel 8 candidate forum, Medina, along with Johnston, said he would support asking voters to increase taxes for roads and transportation, but wouldn’t be opposed to looking for that funding in other places, such as the budget or working to get state funding either.

O’Riley, a current Denver Deputy Sheriff, wants to bring more diversity to the council. As a Spanish speaker he said he would like to have some kind of translating service for city council meetings, specifically.

On oil and gas O’Riley said during the Aurora Channel 8 candidate forum fracking in Aurora could bring business, “and with business comes growth.” But he added that allowing fracking and oil and gas activity has to be responsible and voters should have some input into what regulations should look like.

“I’m for what the voter wants,” O’Riley said.

Wilson, a property investor in Aurora, has lived in the city for 13 years and said he believes a lot of the growth and changes local officials have ushered in has been “incredibly positive.”

He first came to Aurora to work at Buckley Air Force Base.

“Going forward, we must continue to be ever vigilant to keep on this path of good governance and progress, as it is deceptively easy to fall off and start backtracking,” Wilson says on his website.

To keep moving forward, Wilson suggests reexamining current city policies and exploring new ideas to “maximize prosperity and efficiency.” So when it comes to growth, Wilson said he’s only in favor of annexing land if it’s neutral to the budget.

Among the many topics that emerged during interviews and in forums some of the most-cited issues for candidates were homelessness, Aurora’s stance on immigration policy and transportation.

Many of the candidates believe the city should put more resources into aiding the homeless population in Aurora.

On the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival policy, which has been a hot topic in Aurora since the city council passed a resolution from the floor to a committee, all candidates said they support the policy.

“The DREAMers are a key part of Aurora’s, Colorado’s and America’s economic future,” Hagerdorn said, adding that he would consider any kind of local support of that population.

O’Riley said as a Latino, it’s important to consider what the next generations will contribute to the economy. During the Channel 8 candidate forum he said he doesn’t think it’s a topic council should put on the back burner.

When asked about pushing back against the Trump administration if it requested the city to do on enforcing immigration law, Johnston said during the forum she would absolutely pushback.

O’Riley said he’d like to have some backing if the city were to stand up to the federal government, possibly getting other local governments such as Denver to join in and oppose policies.

With the R Line facing service cuts, some have proposed that as the city’s top concern. O’Riley suggested in a candidate questionnaire that city leaders sit down and determine exactly which direction it wants to take on public transportation.

For Johnston, connectivity is the most pressing transportation issue, which includes, “improving Gunclub Road [ highway 30], extending 6th Ave east of E-470 to accommodate commercial and residential development in the area around I-70, Colfax, and E-470.”

Residents living on the city’s eastern edge need better connections to the rest of the city, she said in a candidate questionnaire.

Likewise, Medina said those living on the “city outskirts” need more transportation options.

Wilson said maintenance of the roads should be at the top of the priority list.

“I would be willing to spend more money on this section of the budget if it would allow us to allow traffic to flow more smoothly and efficiently,” he said in a candidate questionnaire.

Bob Hagedorn Bio & Issue Q&A

Ward II candidate Bob Hagedorn is a former Democratic state lawmaker who served in both the Colorado House and Senate from 1992 until 2008. Since serving in the legislature, Hagedorn acted as the president of the Aurora Cultural Arts District for four years. Currently, he is the CEO of ‘Fax Aurora, a wealth service non-profit serving North Aurora. Hagedorn graduated from Aurora Central High School in 1970. He received a journalism degree from the University of Colorado. In 1979, he received a master’s degree in urban affairs from CU-Denver.

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) If we can find an alternative revenue stream to fund the city’s “nexus” programs (Comitis, SungateKids, Gateway Battered Women’s Services, Aurora Mental Health and MCPN) that currently receive revenue from photo-red tickets in Aurora, I would support eliminating photo-red.
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 want to see how it works for Denver, and how they deal with the issues and problems that arise from it; then, I would vote to put the issue to a referendum so the city’s residents can have their say.
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) Future annexations should be determined on a case-by-case basis, after calculating and analyzing the costs vs. the benefits of individual proposed annexations (including the addressing of infrastructure issues, water and sewer availability, and providing public safety).
Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?
A) No, the costs to provide our own social services that are already in place with Adams and Arapahoe Counties would be overwhelming.
Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?
A) Traffic infrastructure (i.e., maintenance, improvement and expansion/widening of our streets).
Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?
A) We need to address the root causes of crime and violence. Aurora is one of two pilot communities under HB17-1326, “The Justice Reinvestment Crime Prevention Initiative,” that creates a grant program for strategies to address conditions that lead to crime and gun violence. Plus, if we can find the funding, restore the city’s “weed-and-seed” program (the “weeding” out of crime in targeted areas, then through collaborative efforts institute prevention and intervention programs).
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 can do a better job in marketing community events by improving its efforts to better partner with non-government organizations and recruiting business sponsors.
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) Considering that we have residents that are physically unable to shovel snow from their sidewalks and do not have the the financial means to hire someone to do it, it would be wrong to penalize them.
9. What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city?
The city has no legal standing to pass ordinances regulating oil and gas drilling that are contrary to the rules established by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which have been upheld by decisions of the Colorado Supreme Court. However, there is a case now pending before the Colorado Supreme Court (Martinez v. COGCC) regarding the balance between rules to protect public health and the environment and the development of oil and gas resources. If the Colorado Supreme Court upholds the Appellate Court’s decision, the city might then be able to consider other controls.
Q) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?
A) Left as 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) Consideration of providing economic incentives should be determined on a case-by-case basis using cost-benefit analysis, including transparency regarding recommendations. In addition, there needs to be benchmarks for accountability, as the city has with Amazon in which the company does not receive any incentives until it has created 900 full-time jobs with an average salary of $30,000.
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 not stay on the sidelines as our senior population will continue to grow with our significant ‘Boomer population. From my understanding, the city is allocating $80,000 next year for senior transportation issues. We need to do more, and should explore potential innovative solutions involving ride-hailing companies (like Uber and Lyft) and ride-sharing services specifically for seniors.
Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?
A) As long as it can be done without loss of any of the existing lanes for cars, and it’s safe for bicyclists.
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) Some kind of special improvement district is needed in the city’s downtown area to ensure a stream of revenue to help rejuvenate the area. However, the resources need to be used on projects that will spark redevelopment financed by private investment. The opportunity along East Colfax rests with the area’s large Millennial population and redevelopment should focus on their interests. The Stanley Marketplace is a great asset to NW Aurora, but no one should fantasize that such upscale development can be replicated on Colfax.  Nor should it. The Denver area has too many arts districts that have lost what made them special in the first place. 
Bob Hagedorn Endorsements

Coming soon

Bob Hagedorn Personality Q&A
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:
1. What food do you hate most? Lima beans
2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? I have in the past.
3. Who would play you in a movie about your life?  Jeremy Renner.
4. What Olympic Sport do you wish you could win gold at? Bobsledding.
5. What was your favorite childhood candy? Mallo Cups.
6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be?  The Constitutional Convention.
7. If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? The Professor.
8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts.  “Sounds of Silence.”
9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? “It’s the journey that counts.” (Not original)
10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? No.
11. What is the last concert you attended? Disturbed, at Red Rocks on August 15, 2016.
12. What movie do you never tire of watching?  “The Godfather.”
13. Dogs or cats? Dogs.
14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? The city’s friendly people.

Bob Hagedorn Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

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

2. Total Contributions— $10,050.00

3. Total Receipts— $10,050.00

4. Total Expenditures — $4,589.63

5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $5,460.37

6. Total In-kind Contributions — $0.00

Nicole Johnston Bio & Issues Q&A

Ward II candidate Nicole Johnston runs her own non-profit organization consulting company and grant writing service. She lives in east Aurora, where three of her children attend Aurora Public Schools and she has served on district’s year-round Calendar Committee. Johnston founded the East Aurora Community Development group after learning of oil and gas drilling near her neighborhood. She was also appointed to the City of Aurora’s Oil and Gas Advisory Committee as a citizen member. In addition to education and oil and gas, Johnson served as the Marine family liaison at Buckley Air force Base.

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 have spent a great deal of time researching this issue and my position is that I oppose the photo red light system.  Data shows that the red light photo cameras actually increase rear end collisions at red light intersections.  Studies are mixed and do not provide concrete data that safety is improved.  As a city lawmaker, I think this is an issue that should be decided by the voters. I would recommend that this be decided by the voters of Aurora not only to answer the privacy question but to determine if the voters want to continue the revenue toward community programs from the photo red light camera program.

 

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 permit them immediately.  I would like to see how the implementation of open use or private cannabis clubs works in Denver before bringing it to 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) Growth should be smart and sustainable.  Growth and annexing should consider economic development, renewable resources, infrastructure and city services. I do not think the city should continue to annex large tracts of land at this time. The recent East Aurora Annexation Study Draft Comprehensive Plan Amendment showed a negative fiscal impact totalling over $15 million in costs to taxpayers.  I also have concerns about the impact to Aurora’s water resources.

 

Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county?

A) Residents need more information about which services are provided by the City and which are provided by the County.  Most people may not have an idea of how those services break out.  The fiscal study conducted three years ago said that Aurora would be “$20 million in the red for all expenditures in the first year and $367 million in debt over the entire 20 years”  One of the largest capital expenditures would be for a new sheriff’s office and jail which would cost 40% of the $325 million.  Human services would also take a large portion of the costs.  Because of the costs to taxpayers and not necessarily improving efficiencies, I do not support Aurora becoming a City and County.

 

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

A) Finding a funding source for road maintenance is important but the most pressing need is to generate connectivity by improving Gunclub Road [ highway 30], extending 6th Ave east of E-470 to accommodate commercial and residential development in the area around I-70, Colfax, and E-470.  People east of E-470 need better access to the City. We also need to focus on multi modal transportation offering alternative methods of transportation including mass transit, car, ride sharing, bicycle.

 

Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence?

A) I believe efforts to reduce gun violence will have elements of federal-local law enforcement collaboration, community involvement, targeted intervention strategies and continuous program evaluation of outcomes.  In addition, poverty is a contributor of crime and providing more economic opportunity and education and support to our higher crime areas could also make an impact.

 

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 there is room for improvement with the city marketing itself with its branding “Aurora is worth discovering”.  Aurora needs to be highlighted by private enterprises and I look forward working with Anschutz and others to continue building Aurora’s brand as a place worth discovering.  Marketing is also important; not just as a destination city but for current residents who live here.  As we redevelop and develop new areas including retail, diverse restaurants, breweries, open space, light rail and more, we need to let our residents know of the exciting opportunities Aurora offers.

 

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, the warnings and fines seem to be working.

 

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

A) I serve on the City’s Oil and Gas Advisory Committee and I am familiar with the application and approval process.  As oil and gas drilling increases within the city, near our homes and schools, I believe local government should ensure health and safety protections for our residents.  Aurora should use the same authority they have in zoning for other industrial sites, and not have an exception for the oil and gas industry as it stands now.  Aurora should have more authority in regard to the placement of wells and production facilities. I also support requiring real time air emission monitoring systems to be installed at each site paid by the industry, alerting residents, schools and businesses to potential harm.

 

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

A) The sign code could have some exemptions for special events but overall the sign codes do not seem too restrictive.

 

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 think incentives should be used to prioritize local businesses that provide local jobs, create a tax base that contributes to the city’s revenue and be made with the citizens of Aurora in mind.  Aurora should not assume that tax incentives will pay for themselves. If a business would have created the same jobs without receiving the incentive, then the city passed up tax revenue it otherwise would have collected for no economic gain. When the City gives away more than 50% of future revenue, it becomes a subsidy. Any incentive that lasts longer than the projected life expectancy of a project should be rejected.

 

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) This is a very serious issue that is extremely difficult to solve, but we must work together with the county, RTD and private businesses to make transportation more accessible and affordable for our seniors.

 

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

A) Aurora is experimenting with bike lanes and has built an extensive bike trails network. Where traffic flows and space availability permit expansion, the city should look at bike friendly solutions.

 

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 City has many urban renewal districts already in place along Colfax, especially around the Anschutz Medical Campus. The City can support the arts but I am not seeing a huge impact the Aurora Cultural Arts District has on the community and I would like to get more information on the investment and outcomes. According to an article in the Denver Post in July, there have been several stalled investment deals attributed to the influx of homeless in the area.  The pressing issue is affordable housing.  If urban renewal funds will be used,  it should address our need for attainable and affordable housing and employee owned businesses that build and keep wealth in our communities.

Nicole Johnston Endorsements

Aurora Firefighters Local 1290

Colorado People’s Action

Conservation Colorado

Denver Area Labor Federation

Our Revolution Metro Denver

Working Families

Sister District Project

Current Ward II Councilperson Renie Peterson

Colorado Blue Flower Fund

Colorado Black Leadership Caucus

The Aurora Sentinel

#VoteProChoice

Nicole Johnston Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

What food do you hate most? Artificial Cheese

Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No

Who would play you in a movie about your life? Jared Letto

What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Downhill Skiing

What was your favorite childhood candy? Twix

If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? Signing of the Declaration of Independence

If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Momma Bear

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

Sweet Caroline

What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? “Hey, I wanted to be cremated!”

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Definitely not a sandwich.  A hot dog is a wrap.

What is the last concert you attended? My daughter’s recital.

What movie do you never tire of watching? The Empire Strikes Back

Dogs or cats? Dogs

What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? We are getting a little more awareness but our amazing ethnic restaurants should be a draw to people living in Aurora as well as neighboring cities.

 

 

Nicole Johnston Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

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

2. Total Contributions— $10,772.44

3. Total Receipts — $10,772.44

4. Total Expenditures — $3,111.12

5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $7,661.32

6. Total In-kind Contributions — $3,013.34

Ruben L. Medina Bio & Issues Q&A
Ruben Medina, a Ward II candidate, was a city employee before deciding to run for city council.
He also does community engagement consulting in the Denver Metro area as well as in Africa. Medina, a southern Colorado native, has also worked in education and has coached wrestling for over 30 years at both the high school and national level.

 

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 should be revenue neutral, only paying for itself. It needs to continuously be evaluated to assure is causing the desired effect. With major budget constraints affecting our ability to enforce traffic laws, innovative technology solutions have to be a part of the overall solution. Not enforcing the law should not be an option.

 

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 permit this use. Aurora voters have not presented with this as a referendum and it has not passed. Denver voters voted for use of marijuana in certain businesses. I do not see the benefit of these and I do not support normalizing the behavior.

 

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 tool that the city should use responsibly to meet the needs of the residents.  In certain situations, annexation can make Aurora a better place for families and businesses to locate and thrive.

We have a structural budget deficit in Aurora which means we are continually challenged just to meet the expenses of our core services on an annual basis. Furthermore, we have a bunch of unfinished capital projects from our past. All decisions need to take these key issues into consideration. Any annexation needs to be determined to provide sustainable economic gain for the city. Also, our residents need to be provided with a more genuine and comprehensive opportunity to decide on large annexation projects. If the fiscal numbers make sense and the current voters support it, annexation can be a great tool for sustainable growth that strengthens our community.

 

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

A) Yes, I believe we need more revenue and resources that come with being a county and city. Plus, it will help to shape our city moving forward. It will create more opportunities for services to be located near the areas where we need them as opposed to going outside of the city to get some services.

 

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

A) We need more access to bus routes in areas where people who live on the outskirts of our city can access more readily. Lower costs for some of our populations who rely on this transportation for their livelihood.

 

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 we need to work harder to enforce the laws currently on the books. This will reduce gun violence and continue to keep Aurora residents safe. We need to look at ways to bolster our public safety forces to assure they have the resources they need to do their jobs successfully.

 

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, but it has started to get better. One of the issues I feel is that they do not get the word out on the many programs and resources the city can offer. We need to do a better job of branding and offering our info in other languages and reaching more people who don’t get exposure to the traditional media outlets that are continually relied on.

 

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) Is this a major issue in the city? What we need to do is encourage more residents to help each other in their communities. There may be many reasons why someone is not able to shovel their walks. Elderly, disabled, do not own a shovel, etc. Penalizing people is not a good way to connect with the community.

 

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

A) More local education on the industry and the short and long term affects to the community. We need to really take a look at some of these corporations who have many mineral rights, some wells and some potential wells all over the eastern part of Ward II. We need to stop cutting deals before we know the true impact on our communities and we need to put the interests of our voters at the forefront of decision making that affects their homes and families.

 

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

A) I think they are fine the way they are now. Making them larger or smaller is not going to make a whole lot of change. I will be interested to discuss this with constituents as the topic comes up.  As always, I will work hard to understand the needs of Ward II residents and represent them at the policy level.

 

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 think we need to limit the amounts of incentives to businesses who want to work in our city. We already know they are going to make money so why are we supporting them with these lavish tax breaks and other incentives? Would we provide the same treatment for our residents who seek to own homes in our community? Can we incentivize people to purchase houses with an incentive which would do two-fold get more people to own their homes and help our tax base at the same time?

Obviously, tax incentives play a part in our ability to attract businesses and jobs. I would like this practice to be applied more judiciously and practically – with an eye toward fairness to all of our other taxpaying citizens. Most of all, I would like to see our residents have an opportunity to weigh in on these big decisions.

 

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 need to work to solve these issues. With the aging population over the next decade the issue is only going to get larger. This why we need to be proactive now. We need to look at becoming a city and county or help resolve this issue with the transportation and county. Aurora should be a welcoming place for seniors.

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

A) At what costs? How is this going to be feasible and what information do we currently have to support such a venture? Do we have the ridership to offset the cost? Are we looking at bike lanes, dedicated lanes like in Boulder, etc.?  In general, yes we need to address the 21st century transportation needs of our residents. Specifics need to be decided upon in a healthy and transparent discourse with our residents and stakeholders. We can learn from our neighbors and make Aurora better than the rest.

 

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) No proposed solutions should be ruled out. There are many ways to bring creative and innovative solutions to these type of challenges. I know because I have worked on them in the past.

Ruben L. Medina Endorsements

coming soon

Ruben L. Medina Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

 

1. What food do you hate most? I do not like the word hate, but I dislike turnips.

2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Not many Hispanics in the movie industry. Lou Diamond Phillips.

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

5. What was your favorite childhood candy? Zero bar

6. f you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? When the world was born.

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

8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Jump by Van Halen

9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? I hope I left this world in a better place. That I exhausted myself doing what was right!

10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? You could make it one, I have.

11. What is the last concert you attended? Air Supply

12. What movie do you never tire of watching? 300 Spartans

13. Dogs or cats? Dogs

14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? The diversity of the community.

Ruben L. Medina Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period —  $0.00
2. Total Contributions — $525.00
3. Total Receipts — $525.00
4. Total Expenditures — $450.00
5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $75.00
6. Total In-kind Contributions — $0.00

Robert O'Riley Bio & Issues Q&A

Robert O’Riley has been a deputy with the Denver Sheriff Department for more than 10 years. Previously he worked for the Transportation Security Administration. O’Riley, a U.S. Marine veteran, currently serves on Aurora’s Veterans Affairs Commission. He holds degrees from Liberty University and Excelsior College.

 

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 is reviewed by the contractor, Xerox Local & State Solutions, for initial approval. This review is completed to ensure the equipment worked properly and within the contractual requirements set forth by the Aurora Police Department. A listing of vehicle registration is obtained through the appropriate Department of Motor Vehicles and is attached to the alleged violation. The alleged violation is then sent to the Aurora Police Photo Enforcement Unit for final review. The contract with Xerox was extended or renewed for one extra year which is up in 2018. Just the other day, I heard conversation on a local  news
AM radio concerning this issue. According to the APD, Safety has always been and will continue to be the city of Aurora’s main priority for installing the red light photo enforcement systems. The red light photo enforcement program was initiated to address specific intersections which were particularly problematic with significant crashes. With the use of red light photo enforcement systems, cameras and videos are used, to assist the city of Aurora Police and Public Safety departments, to focus on driver’s behavior in an attempt to lessen injury and fatal crashes due to red light running. This does generate revenue for the city and a history is established of areas of concern. This technology frees up the APD as they are already spread out throughout 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) Denver is going to do many experiment ventures, I am not agreement with this allowance.
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) Aurora city government needs to be responsible in its transactions in annexing large tracts of land. The development in some areas are already in place, the concern from my ward is how close with commercial industry will come in contact with residential communities. Real Estate is the key element of location, location, and location. I look at what has happened in Green Valley Ranch and the surrounding area of the Denver Airport. Growth and a steady increase of assets to the community. Denver has greatly benefited from this, I believe that Aurora should also benefit.
Q) Do you support Aurora forming its own county? Why?
A) Aurora city has been addressed in forming or becoming city and county. That was shoot down a while back. Look at Denver, they are city and county. Does it work? I do not support it.
Q) What is the city’s most pressing transportation need?
A) Recently, RTD has lessened service on the rail line and other routes that are within the city limits. It is a cost and what is the actual price per hour on providing such transportation? Getting people to school, work, and vital locations will not be an immediate or overnight solution when it comes to transportation. We to sit down and have a great discussion on that need.
Q) Are there any laws at the city level that you believe could help reduce gun violence? Which ones? If not, why?
A) Do you think the city does a good job of marketing itself? If not, what can be done differently? Is it important?
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) There are residents in Aurora that need our assistance in snow removal, the elderly, the low income, and those with special needs. HOA’s and other residential communities that have contracts in place for this question. Community awareness should be provided to the residents that when the time comes for snow removal, contact should be made for assistance.
Q) What, if any, local controls should Aurora insist on when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the city?
A) N/A
A) Would you like to see Aurora’s sign code become more restrictive, less restrictive or left as it is?
A) It is more of an accountability issue for sign codes. The signs are in place for the public, if the code is questionable as to the effectiveness, then it should be addressed to the city council for review. Let us not waste tax dollars on items that are not necessary or prevent progress
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 am sure that there is a win-win on this financial incentive. In the long run, many jobs will be created, higher income, more revenue for the city, more residents, more housing, and a productive environment. That will also increase awareness to potential outside investors that Aurora is place to do business, development, job markets.
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) There should be collaborate effort and communication from the city to the county on addressing services. RTD and other vital residential transportation needs are vital. We have now the rail line; however, cuts in service times are currently being presented. The Mayor of Aurora has addressed this issue via the media. City Council is aware of the issues and many sub committees within the city of Aurora have addressed transportation services.
Q) Should Aurora begin reconfiguring streets such as Peoria or Chambers to allow for bicycle-only travel?
A) You have to look at the expense involved in that question. Have we not learned what problems Boulder has with its bicycle lanes?
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 look at what Stanley Marketplace has introduced, a revival to the community, generating revenue. Another or similar “Stanley Marketplace” can take place on the East Colfax corridor.

 

Robert O'Riley Endorsements
Aurora Police Association

 

Robert O'Riley Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

What food do you hate most? Meat Loaf

Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No

Who would play you in a movie about your life? The late John Wayne or present actor Kevin Sorbo

What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Running 4 mile

What was your favorite childhood candy? Pop Rocks

If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? 1775-1776 the signing of the Declaration of Independence

If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Bull Dog

If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. George Straits, Amarillo by Morning

What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? Husband, Father, Veteran

Is a hot dog a sandwich? An item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with meat, cheese, or other filling between them, eaten as a light meal. But a hot dog is not a sandwich, according to an official press release from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. I would state it is not.  Just a Hot Dog.

What is the last concert you attended? Alabama at Fiddler’s Green

What movie do you never tire of watching? Forrest Gump

Dogs or cats? I love them both, Dogs 1st, then cats.

What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? Too much emphasis on the past history of violence or so called events like the shootings, etc.

 

Robert O'Riley Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $0.00
2. Total Contributions — $550.00
3. Total Receipts — $550.00
4. Total Expenditures — $477.66
5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $72.34
6. Total In-kind Contributions — $0.00

Jeff Wilson Bio & Issues Q&A

Jeff Wilson is seeking election in Ward II, where term-limited Renie Peterson served since 2005. He has been an Aurora resident for 13 years. Wilson is a real estate investor and owns several rental properties in Aurora. From 2004 to 2014 he was a software engineer for Lockheed Martin at Buckley Air Force Base. Wilson graduated from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire in 2003 with a computer science degree.

 

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 don’t like the red-light cameras.  But I haven’t heard an alternative to them either.  From what I understand the main purpose of the program is to reduce traffic deaths at the worst intersections.  Also from what I understand it is working.  It might cause slightly more minor accidents, but the fact that they reduce the number of deadly accidents is extremely important.  I actually just spent some time driving in Europe and their roundabouts were amazingly effective at handling intersections in a safe, efficient, and cost effective way without using stoplights.  Unfortunately I don’t think that we can retrofit roundabouts into our existing intersections (due to space constraints), which would allow us to remove the red light cameras.  I am certainly open to looking at the science and also any real world examples of how to create safe intersections that would allow us to remove the red light cameras though.

 

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, I would allow cannabis use in shops and bars, as I see no issue with it.  I would allow them in the same manner as we allow bars.

 

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 have no problem in theory with annexing more land.  I think that having one large city that enforces good rules is better and more efficient than having many smaller cities all with different rules and processes.  That being said I’m only for annexing land if it will be neutral to the budget.  If it will cost the city of Aurora to lose money I would not be for it.

 

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

A) Once again I have no problem with this in theory.  I do think that our current system of being in 3 different counties is fine for now, though, and it might be too complicated and costly to form our own county for the foreseeable future.

 

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

A) I think the most pressing transportation need is to create roads that are more safe and efficient.  We can get a lot of traffic congestion on our roads, which is very frustrating and dangerous for drivers and bikers/walkers alike.  I would look into road and traffic improvements by looking at the latest science and real world examples of things that work.  I would be willing to spend more money on this section of the budget if it would allow us to allow traffic to flow more smoothly and efficiently.

 

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

A) Unfortunately I don’t think that there is much that can be done at the city level.  Gun violence is a nationwide issue that needs to be address at the national level.  Creating a patchwork of laws and rules per city doesn’t make sense to me.

 

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 that overall our city does do a good job at marketing itself.  The ball has really started to roll and is picking up speed too with large businesses moving here such as the Gaylord conference center, the Amazon fulfilment center and others.  Also, Aurora is also one of the nation’s top cities for immigrants and refugees to come to.  I think that we could market that aspect of our city more and become a premier location for people new to America to come to in order to integrate into American society.

 

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.  There are too many extenuating circumstances that might not allow someone to shovel the sidewalks in front of their houses including being out of the country, being too elderly or in poor health, etc.  It’s great if you can shovel your sidewalk, but it shouldn’t be mandatory.  Pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings at all times and travel in a safe manor.  If the conditions outside are too dangerous then they should find a different mode of transportation or not travel until it is safe for them. 

 

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

A) I think that the national and state laws and controls are sufficient.  Additional laws at a lower level just add more levels of bureaucracy and confusion and aren’t needed to ensure safety.

 

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

A) I would like to see it become less restrictive.  I think that requiring a license for every sign is excessive and wastes city resources processing those license requests.  Instead of checking for rule compliance upfront I think it would be better to check for compliance only if a complaint is received.  My basic concept on this is that regulations involving safety should be checked upfront, but since signage is not a safety concern it can be looked at in a post hoc manor.

 

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) We live in a competitive environment which means we must compete with other cities and what they offer or lose out big time.  The true value of a business coming to Aurora is not in any tax revenue they generate anyways, but instead in the products and jobs they create.  I think it is very unfair, though, that we give these incentives to the large businesses only, and then treat the smaller business in a different manor by not giving them any incentives.  That is unequal and unfair treatment and I find it very distasteful.  I think we should treat all businesses the same.  We should make it easy, cheap and desirable for all businesses to open shop in Aurora and then raise revenue for the city in other ways that don’t dissuade anyone from coming here to do business.

 

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 be aware of the problems and seek ways to solve them.  The city should help coordinate the services needed by residents and attempt to direct people to the correct business or county programs that can help them.  If no other help is available then the city should have a budget to assist people before emergency situations arise.

 

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

A) I’m generally pro bicycle-only lanes, but I would need to research the topic to see if they would be truly effective and safe for those specific 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) There are many business that would love to infuse East Colfax with cash for urban renewal and many are actually doing so right now.  There are many development projects going on between Peoria and Chambers including apartments, hotels, convenience stores, retail, and office space.  One issue preventing even more development in certain spots is the presence of homeless people and day labors that congregate in certain areas.  I’ve heard that some projects have been canceled due to a developer getting nervous after seeing so many people loitering about near where their construction project would be.  So in order to facilitate renewal Aurora doesn’t need to purchase land on East Colfax or provide infusions of cash or incentives directly, but instead should focus on trying to find solutions for the people in need of help in that area which will allow the development and renewal to quickly follow.

Jeff Wilson Endorsements

coming soon

Jeff Wilson Personality Q&A

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU:

1. What food do you hate most? Chewing gum

2. Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? I can count the number of times I’ve used marijuana on one hand.  It doesn’t impress me enough to use it regularly.

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Bill Paxton

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

5. What was your favorite childhood candy? 100 Grand candy bars

6. If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? The birth of life on this planet

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

8. If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. Free Fallin’

9. What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? “The Placebo Effect is Real”

10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? No way

11. What is the last concert you attended? One Republic

12. What movie do you never tire of watching? I don’t watch movies more than once if I can help it.

13. Dogs or cats? Both

14. What’s the most underrated thing about living in Aurora? There many underrated things about Aurora.  Safety might the most underrated though, as we have a stigma of being a rather unsafe city, but actually rate as one of the safest large cities there is.  Also we have so much to do here with all the parks in or near the city (such as Cherry Creek State Park) and also with our entertainment district that has the Fox and Vintage theatres.

 

Jeff Wilson Campaign Contributions and Expenditures

1. Funds on Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period — $117.34
2. Total Contributions — $125.74
3. Total Receipts — $243.08
4. Total Expenditures — $243.08
5. Funds on Hand at End of Reporting Period — $0.00
6. Total In-kind Contributions — $0.00