Eric Garcia sees a lot of similarity between faith organizations and local government.
“We serve the same people, day in and day out,” he said.
Garcia, Ward One City Councilor for …
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Eric Garcia sees a lot of similarities between faith organizations and local government.
Garcia, Ward One City Councilor for Thornton, filled the vacancy council declared due to former City Councilor Jacque Phillips’ purchase of a second home in Alamosa and starting a job there.
Garcia served as a pastor for 23 years and in different roles for the faith community. He launched a church in Denver called Elevate Denver that aimed to unite the community, local government, local businesses, organizations and other faith communities.
Through his work with government officials, he saw the power of local governments and considered running for the city council. Instead, he devoted time to his mother who was sick with breast cancer and eventually died in September.
Then his wife’s cousin texted him about the opening on council and thought it was a good time to get more involved with Ward One. So he applied and was chosen to fill the seat.
A little more than two months after his appointment, he said much of his time has been meeting with city officials, councilors and residents.
That’s how he has been preparing for the role and attempting to unify the council after the emotional process of removing Phillips. When asked how he planned to help bridge the divide of the council, he thinks it’s been overstated.
“I think there's not as big a divide as what's been put out there,” he said. “I think it's just a few people that have made it seem like there's more disunity than there is.”
He recognizes the anger and frustration with the removal of Phillips and said many Ward One residents voiced those concerns to him. His goal is to work with all of the council for the betterment of the city.
“I don't pick sides. My side is the people and the residents and so I think when we focus on serving people and nothing else, that's where unity comes,” he said. “You hear that ‘bully block of five’ a lot, I don't buy into that.”
Another issue he said Ward One residents are raising is equity.
“You can kind of tell where you're driving down Interstate 25,” he said. “There's a big difference, so I would like to see that gap closed.”
To help bridge that gap, he thinks south Thornton needs more community gathering spaces. Local coffee shops and more projects, he thinks, can help meet that need.
He sees that for all of Thornton as well because he looks at places like Old Towne Arvada, where the entire community can go to a central place to meet and hang out. He doesn’t see that in Thornton.
“I would love to see more community spaces, and community gathering places, sort of landmarks in Thornton where you can bring your family and friends,” he said.
As well, other issues the city needs to tackle are homelessness, support for small businesses, crime and drug abuse.
Most importantly, he thinks Ward One residents want to be heard. In his conversations with them, many have expressed that they have not been listened to.
“They want to be heard, so, it's just listening to them and building that relationship with them,” he said.
He is excited about his new role.
“Being involved in local government, we can make the biggest difference in people’s lives,” he said.
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