Kulmann runs for reelection

Luke Zarzecki
Posted 3/6/23

Jan Kulmann is an engineer. She said that means her job is to solve problems where solutions don’t necessarily exist.

She sees parallels to politics. 

“There's a lot of …

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Kulmann runs for reelection


Jan Kulmann is an engineer. She said that means her job is to solve problems where solutions don’t necessarily exist.

She sees parallels to politics. 

“There's a lot of problems that exist and nobody knows how to solve them, or we wouldn't have constant work to do. So engineers are really suited for that kind of work,” she said. 

Kulmann is in the last year of her four-year term as mayor. Voters will go to the polls in November to select the mayor for the next four years, as well as three City Councilors. Candidates can begin passing nomination forms and collecting signatures  on Aug. 8.

Kulmann moved to Thornton in 2007 because her uncle lived in the city, and they were looking for a place that felt like home. With Thornton giving a small town feel but also being a huge community, she said the opportunities are endless to live, work and play in the city. 

She wants to expand on those opportunities and continue to build off the work she’s done while she’s been the mayor.

Her main priorities aren’t much different than what they’ve always been, she said. Public safety, economic development and affordable housing all are her top goals, and they all tie in together to make the city a place where residents can do it all. 

“We want people to not just live here. We want them to work here, play here, stay here, spend more money here,” she said. 

Her experience on the council, which she served since 2013 as a councilor and later as mayor, prepared her to continue the work she’s been doing. She said she has learned how the city works and feels she is able to make real differences in the community.

Kulmann pointed to the fact that she’s passionate about public safety. The amount of hires in the police department has increased and the fire department won a congressional award for the work they did with COVID-19. 

Current issues 

When Kulmann was running for congress, she learned that if everything is local, it doesn’t matter what’s happening at the state and federal levels. 

“Everything affects us locally,” she said. 

To address the rising cost of living, it's vital to bring jobs to the city and make sure housing is available, she said. 

“Affordability is a lot about having a place to live, being able to afford to live, being able to have a job where you live so you don't have to travel so much and those are the things that we're working on in the city,” she said. 


Kulmann sees housing as a water issue. 

“We have to have water in order to make sure that we have stock available,” she said. 

She’s looking forward to see how Proposition 123, a sales tax dedicated to affordable housing that was approved by voters in 2022, will pan out and how Thornton will benefit from it. 


Housing also plays into crime. 

“It's extremely important because, without a safe community, we're not going to have residents that want to live here,” she said. 

Kulmann hopes to build off the new hires in the police department, as well as focus on training, with help from the new training center that recently opened.

 “It's about having the right officers that are trained to protect our community in the right ways,” she said. 

She touted Chief Terrence Gordon for helping make community policing part of Thornton’s culture. 

Past issues

Kulmann said a 2022 grassroots movement seeking for more campaign finance reform in Thornton is worth discussing.

“I think there's opportunity for conversations and I'm open to real conversations about it, not political posturing about it,” she said. 

A group of residents tried to collect signatures to put the issue on the 2022 November ballot, but fell short. The group of more than 6,000 signatures, but needed 8,565 make the ballot. 

If passed, the ordinance would have limited contributions, created more frequent reporting deadlines and required more disclosures on campaign materials. It also, would’ve banned corporate, special interest and union money and made it easier to understand rules that govern making donations.

Kulmann, who at the time stopped short of supporting the initiative, did say she was in favor of more transparency. 

She said she felt the approach to the issue was ‘an us versus them approach.’ She wants to have a collaborative effort that can address some sort of reform. 

Thornton Shopping Center 

With Thornton recently acquiring the Thornton Shopping Center, Kulmann hopes for it to be a center for revitalization. 

“It's something all of us in the community are excited to actually start to move forward on,” she said. 

However, she stressed the importance of managing expectations. There’s a lot to fix which will take a long time before something happens to the property. 

Jacque Phillips vote

On Feb. 9, 2022, Former City Councilor Jacque Phillips was voted off council 5-4, with those for the removal citing a purchase of a home in Alamosa and starting a second job there. Kulmann voted for it.

“The facts are she doesn't live here. And that's really the gist of it,” she said. 

She said she wished Phillips brought up the issue earlier to have a collaborative conversation about it. 

“It's unfortunate that someone decided to move out of the city instead of representing the community where she told people she was,” Kulmann said. 

Thornton water project 

Adams 12 Five Star Schools Superintendent Chris Gdowski told Northglenn City Councilors Feb. 13 that more housing and affordable housing is a strong interest for Adams 12. He said 15 acres of their property were sold to a housing developer, but it fell through due to water issues in Thornton.

Part of those water issues is the Thornton water project, and Kulmann said she’s been working on speeding up the project for the last few years by meeting with officials in Weld and Larimer counties. 

“Building those relationships was the key to be able to get through Weld County and into Larimer County,” she said. “That relationship between me and the former mayor and with the Weld County Commissioners through the years, allowed us to open the door for conversations.”

She also said she’s been working with Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo about how she can bring support from the federal level. 

“Pipelines are technical problems that can be solved by engineers. This is a housing concern. We need the water in the city of Thornton in order to make sure that we have attainable housing for everyone,” she said. 


The Environmental Protection Agency set a new health advisory on June 15 at 0.0004 parts per trillion for PFOA and 0.02 parts per trillion for PFOS. 

In May 2022, the Thornton Water Treatment Plant measured 7.1 parts per trillion for PFOA and 3.5 parts per trillion for PFOS. The Wes Brown Water Treatment Plant saw 5.4 parts per trillion for PFOA and 2.0 parts per trillion for PFOS.

Kulmann emphasized that Thornton got ahead of the game by notifying residents early before most other cities in Colorado did. 

City Spokesperson Todd Barnes said meeting the new advisory will be costly with the need to update and upgrade water treatment facilities. 

Kulmann said Thornton taxpayers should not have to pay for those costs, and cited the lawsuit the city filed against the sources of contamination.  

“Our citizens should not have to pay to get that out of our water. You should be working with those that actually polluted the water to do that,” she said. 

Fracking in Thornton 

On Nov. 29, Thornton city council approved a proposed 10-well fracking site at the southeast corner of the E-470 and I-25 intersection. Civitas, the company applying for the site, went through an operator agreement and staff recommended approval.

Even if the city council didn’t approve the project, it would’ve most likely been given the green light through a different route of authorization, she said.

As to whether Thornton needs to raise their standards on oil and gas, she discussed how, as a council member, she helped update the city’s regulations. 

“We ended up getting sued on eight of the items. One of them that I wrote was the only one we won in the lawsuit,” she said. 

It’s tricky because the city needs to be careful to not overstep its bounds with the state, she said

Thornton, election, Jan Kulmann, mayor


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