Cross Currents

Local political campaigns are upon us

Column by Bill Christopher
Posted 8/16/17

It's the middle of August, which holds certain annual or bi-annual truisms.

Rocky Ford cantaloupe are in the grocery stores, and they are so good.

Students are about to head back to school. The …

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Cross Currents

Local political campaigns are upon us

Posted

It's the middle of August, which holds certain annual or bi-annual truisms.

Rocky Ford cantaloupe are in the grocery stores, and they are so good.

Students are about to head back to school. The Colorado Rockies are either mired down low in the Western Division MLB standings or contending for a wild card position.

And the mayoral and city council election campaigns are upon us in suburban municipalities and school districts.

Municipal and school board elections in odd years

Local government mayoral, city council and school board candidates normally have started their respective campaigns for either re-election or first-time election to public office.

However, this time around we have some candidates that either have not started or do not intend to hit the bricks and campaign very much.

This year is considered the off year in elections which means that county, state and federal elected positions are not up for grabs. It is the "odd year" or odd numbered year i.e. 2017 which brings up municipal and school board elections plus any ballot issues from governmental entities.

All the suburban school districts have candidates for the board of education including Adams 12, Jeffco R-1 and Westminster Public School Districts. Also, most municipalities have city council elections and some will have mayoral elections depending on the cycle of the incumbent mayor's term of office.

City of Westminster candidates

In Westminster, there are three mayoral candidates with incumbent Herb Atchison running for re-election along with current city council member Bruce Baker and a new name to Westminster politics, Rich Seymour.

All three have launched their campaigns to varying degrees. Signs are popping up around the city adjacent to major streets (remember no signs are allowed in the public right of way including state highways), at least two candidates are going door-to-door with their campaign literature and so far, one candidate has run at least one newspaper ad.

Social media is busy which unfortunately includes some false, negative campaigning against one of the candidates by a vocal long-time resident and current elected official.

Looking at the city council candidates, there are now nine contenders including incumbent Emma Pinter for the three council seats. Christopher Stimpson from Cotton Creek has dropped out while Lindsey Smith and John Stephens have joined the race since I last listed the candidates.

Candidate signs are quite limited so far, but some door-to-door campaigning has been underway. No newspapers ads or robo calls by council candidates have started yet as it is too early to be spending limited funds.

Candidate forums are important

Hopefully, one or more civic-minded organizations will sponsor candidate forums in September or early October.

Furthermore, it is hoped that the forum(s) would be video-taped and broadcast on Channel 8 on Comcast cable TV.

Believe me, there are clear differences in the three mayoral candidates as well as among the council candidates. Campaign signs on street corners don't tell the real story.

While name recognition is important, you the voters need to know what each candidate believes, what his or her priorities are if elected and how each candidate would propose to represent YOUR interests. There are important issues which need to be addressed which in part play an important role in Westminster's future sustainability. Without adequate future tax revenues, the city would not be able to continue the quality services being provided or repair or replace expensive infrastructure including streets, bridges, buildings, utility treatment plants and more.

Westminster public school candidates

Also, on this November's ballot will be your candidates for your school district's school board.

In the case of Westminster Public School District, there are two seats which are up for consideration: Incumbent board members Ryan McCoy and Joe Davidek are both running for re-election.

According to school administration staff, so far no other candidates have stepped up to challenge them. We have had this very same problem in prior years where no one in the entire school district would challenge the incumbents.

Regardless of whether you support or not support the two incumbents and regardless of their effectiveness, this is not healthy. Voters deserve choices. The Westminster Public Schools district has a tough set of challenges to resolve including the State Board of Education's monitoring their academic status. Finances have always been a challenge with some years more challenging than others. Twenty percent mobility within the students and having approximately 3,500 students who live in the district but attend school in another district are some of the challenges.

The challenges warrant several solid candidates including the incumbents.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

Bill Christopher

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