Growth Discussion from a Resident

Charles,
When I see “smart growth” on your website it scares me, because what I see happening in Castle Rock does not look smart or healthy. I’ve only been in Castle Rock for one year, and in Colorado for two, so complaining about growth feels hypocritical, but I moved to Castle Rock for the small town feeling, and because it felt like a great place to raise my two sons. I would like to see it remain a small town and not turn into another Parker or Highlands Ranch. In the one year I’ve lived here I’ve seen everything explode in growth. Traffic is worse, and the natural area that we fell in love with here is disappearing, and all natural areas that are not parks are threatened.  I’m originally from Atlanta, and I saw every community for 50 miles plagued by traffic and soulless strip malls (my 17 miles commute took 1.5 hours) . Most of those cities around Atlanta lost their appeal. The Atlanta area started to explode in growth in the 1990s, and I see it coming to the Denver area now.  
 
I saw somewhere online that the Castle Rock growth plan is for 100,000 people by 2030. To me, and to every average citizen of CR I’ve spoken with, that sort of growth is highly undesirable. There is a fear that Castle Rock will die without new growth, but we are close enough to Denver and the DTC that this won’t happen. We have enough people to support the fun downtown area, but more will only overload the downtown.

I’m looking for a candidate who will fight new neighborhoods and more stores and chains. I know this sounds hypocritical coming from a newcomer, who is part of the explosive growth, but what I’ve seen in even one year is shocking. If it continues I’ll move after my kids finish high school, and many others will leave Castle Rock as it loses its soul. It is people making generations of lives in a place that make it a community and a home, not people moving in and out because they found a house close to work. We don’t need another Highlands Ranch. Castle Rock is special, and I want it to stay that way.   

My 1st Response:

I would love to say that Growth in Castle Rock will be slowing or stopping, and that we have devised new ways to pay for our services.  Growth is inevitable for a variety of reasons.  Forgive me if you know all this, I certainly did not when I moved to town 20 years ago.  I’ve spent the last 10 years actively volunteering in the town to learn about a lot of the issues you have described in your email because I also have 2 young children and I am concerned about the future of the town. 

A set of number I like to reference to highlight how growth has been an issue for decades

Historical population
Census Pop.
1970 1,531 32.9%
1980 3,921 156.1%
1990 8,708 122.1%
2000 20,224 132.2%
2010 48,231 138.5%
Est 2017 62,276
29.1%
Est 2020 72,000  
Est 2025 81,000  
Est 2030 90,000  
Est 2050 130,000  
“Full build out”

Castle Rock has sold all the land, most of it 40+ years ago to private landholders.  When the property is sold there are typically a variety of zoning rights bestowed.  Even parks, schools and designated open spaces are now reliant on developers to design them and then give them back to the town after development.

When developers start to develop their plans, they rely on zoning to set the basic parameters, but then must utilize a site development plan (SDP) to show how they will develop the land.  Some developers are surprisingly aware of the importance of open space and ridgelines, and they know that maintaining these enhances their own community sales, others listen to community input and make changes to their developments, and very few developers just try to pack as many units as allowed.

The town generates revenue in three main ways, use fees, sales tax and impact fees.  Use fees are typically self-contained and the revenues they generate fund that enterprise function.  These are primarily Water and Recreation Center/Miller Activity Center admissions.  Sales tax revenues fund Fire, Police, Parks (new parks and maintenance) and Public Works (roads).  Development Fees pay for capital projects (not water related) and building/safety inspections (please excuse the over simplifications).

To direct and control the growth is why I developed my Smart Growth platform.  The objective behind Smart Growth is to channel design guidelines and regulations in a way that maintains or enhances the small-town character.  We also need tighter controls for annexation, and for neighboring areas that do not meet our guidelines for design or water usage, we should not provide them services.

There are other ways to reduce growth, such as the Town buying land itself, however these approaches have not been popular in the past due to the need to increase revenues to support such a plan.  If you have other ideas on how specifically to reduce or channel growth I would certainly welcome a conversation around them.

Items like congestion and transportation are part of growth, but it’s exacerbated in Castle Rock due to the lack of primary employers, the over reliance on retail minimum wage jobs, and lack of a transportation plan that addresses the metrics that matter. 

I hope this help explain how I will be addressing growth. 

Resident Response:

Thank you for your response. You can share it if you like. My next comments are meant with respect. Sometimes that doesn’t come through online. The ~100% to ~150% jumps in growth for decades prior remind me of when I worked in Web analytics and we would laugh when we saw a site’s leads go up 200%, when all that happened was that the leads went from 1 to 2. Growing from 1,500 people to 8,000 is expected and doesn’t change a town much (although I’m sure those who were here when it had 1,500 might disagree with me). Healthy growth is expected, and good, I feel, but moving from the size of our town now to 100,000 makes me fear that we’ll become another Colorado Springs at worst, or Highlands Ranch at best. 

I appreciate your efforts to control how growth is managed. It seems that many who bought land 40 years ago for say $100,000 would be happy to sell that now for its current value. I have heard of SPLOST taxes. I hate taxes, but one cent added to each dollar can go a long way toward buying public land, and might be something that Castle Rock residents could stomach if it saves their town. Possibly a developer fee — they are rolling in the coin right now — that goes toward a fund that buys public land. I know developers are adding green space, but it’s not much, and we could use more places like the Gateway Mesa Open Space. 

I agree with you that we don’t have many employers here that offer anything other than lower paying jobs. If we could attract an aerospace or start-ups that would bring in more higher paying jobs, and could use space we already have developed, that would change that. Georgia is now third in the world for movie and TV productions due to tax credits. Those work. Walking around Atlanta now feels like Hollywood with all the celebrity sightings, and often they take old sites like dead malls and turn them into movie studios. The film industry is one thing Georgia has done right.   

I appreciate you taking the time to respond, and explaining the landscape to me. I’m not sure if it eases my fears, and the fears of other people in Castle Rock. I think we want to see something strong, that is simple and quick to grasp, that we can believe will save our town from becoming another Highlands Ranch or Parker. Again, I write this respectfully, and I’m pestering you on this because I have a feeling you are the person who can lead Castle Rock into a good future where we are the outlier in the Denver area, and a place that people want to live because it’s not just another collection of neighborhoods, but a real community.

My Response 9/19/2018

First, I want to thank you for engaging in this dialogue, I learn a lot from each interaction like this.

The % growth figures can be humorous, frightening or confusing. I simply took that graph from the Castle Rock EDC and didn’t want to over edit.

I think conversations on public land buy backs, or gift back are appropriate.  The fine balance is between respecting the individual property holders and what they want for their investment on one side, with the resident’s desires on the other side. 

We have been too far on the developer side for too long and it shows with a lot of the look and feel, particularly outside of Downtown.  The Town has raised impact fees assessed on developers to help pay for select services, and that approach has created a different struggle. As the fees go up, the developers want to use more of the land to maximize their ROI. 

We need to reign that back to the center and have a balanced approach that works for all of us.  And the only way to do that is to be honest about our needs and priorities, and those are reflected best in the elected officials we choose to represent us.

Transportation Question

Charles, I’ve lived in Castle Rock for the last 18 years and have seen rapid growth in the last 15 years. We have a big problem with transportation in this Town. I commute to downtown Denver and spend 720 hours a year commuting. Every day is getting worse on I-25 and Hwy. 85, it’s a parking lot that starts at Castle Pines. What are your plans to help the commuters with this major traffic problem? Do you oppose bringing RTD down to Castle Rock? I’m interested in hearing your views. Thanks in advance!


Do I oppose bringing RTD into Castle Rock?
I do not oppose reopening negotiations with RTD to provide services to Castle Rock. RTD typically operates by imposing a sales tax on the areas that it covers, and an additional 1% sales tax in Castle Rock would make Castle Rock one of the most expensive Sales Tax Rates along the front range.

Before we can fully settle on a plan we need to identify and prioritize the problems we would be trying to address. From my conversations with residents, I would propose the following list of objectives in order of priority.

  1. Lower congestion and commute times
  2. Increase availability of in town transit, for seniors, youth, retail, downtown, and special events.
  3. Increase parking opportunities (especially downtown, and for events everywhere)
  4. Decrease inbound congestion and parking concerns


Here are the possibilities that I would explore more fully with the relevant costs and benefits put in front of the residents to make informed choices.

  • RTD could surprise us a and provide a robust set of services for the 1% sales tax increase that supports commuters, improves congestion and parking constraints, and generally does everything Castle Rock needs and wants with no additional overhead from the city.
  • Bustang. The city is currently in negations to get a Bustang stop in Castle Rock. This would be a great option that could scale for our outbound commuters, but would not help inbound workers. The Town would have some infrastructure changes that would be needed.
  • Light Rail- Is typically managed by RTD, but the infamous A route is part of a public/private partnership. A partnership has the most potential to connect Castle Rock to the greater RTD infrastructure, but prime private partnerships with Promenade and Miller’s landing represent significant missed opportunities by current and past councils. 
  • I-25 Additional expansion- This would be a Federal and State initiative, but Castle Rock should support any efforts to make i-25 more robust.
  • C 85 Expansion- This would be a State and County initiative, but again Castle Rock should support efforts to increase capacity.
  • Front Range Commuter Rail– This is a huge state-wide project, but Castle Rock should do everything in its power to be a destination. This would not only help our transportation issues, but it could present a huge economic boost with our over-reliance on sales tax.
  • Increased primary employment opportunities locally- The earlier items all focus on the supply side of the transportation economics, but we should also pay attention to the demand side of the economic curve. If Castle Rock can shift emphasis from a retail and bedroom community to a more full-service community, we could see congestion lower simply because our residents could live AND work in Castle Rock.
  • Municipal Broadband- this again speaks to the demand, if we can lower the number of commuters with full-time telecommuting employees or even just flex schedules we can have a material impact on congestion and commute times by simply shifting usage times.
  • Hyperloop– if we are going to dream, dream big. 

Social Media in 2018

Social Media and all the noise that surrounds it is unavoidable, but very educational.

So first, because I don’t say this enough: If you like what I have to say, please like and share with your friends.  With 65,000 people in Castle Rock a few shares go a long way.  Please share all my posts, it does matter.

But the bigger question I get (or am texted, messaged, emailed) is why do I not respond to other Facebook groups questions, message threads etc.?

My Facebook page is public, and anyone can post a message or question.  I am fortunate that I have not had to moderate any uncivil discourse on my page that other admins have had to endure, I would much rather talk and chat with people than be an FB admin guy.  My website is also open to public discourse, but it’s not as instantaneous as Facebook.  Use whichever you are comfortable with.

At the most basic level, it’s because there are a lot of sites, and I’m not a member of many of them.  I am selective on what I read, so there are many sites that speak to a lot of people, that I am just not part of that active day to day community.  I have stated before, I am not interested in partisan rhetoric, I tend to follow sites that are more community focused and discussion oriented, rather than echo chambers for either side. 

I do follow a lot of cooking sites, I love good cooking tips, and they are usually drama free.

But there are bigger picture reasons for why it’s important for candidates to not post on other sites.

When an individual who is in a public office, or is a candidate for a government office, all their comments and posts become subject to FOIA requests.  If a candidate posts an eloquent position paper, and then legal issues arise there can be legal problems if a 3rd party site has deleted the post.

With a Council structure like Castle Rock, even 4 council members who comment on the same topic could be in violation of open meeting laws.

Finally, many items that I see in Planning Commission that go onto Town Council are Quasi-Judicial in nature, meaning that any discussion of them outside the public record is an ethics violation.

Therefore all of my posts will be available on my website  
https://CharlesForMayor.com and on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/C3inCr/ both sites where I am the sole admin.

For additional reading on this topic, I recommend the Colorado Municipal League white paper.

So again, please share my posts, and I encourage everyone to ask me questions here.

Or if you want to show even more proactive support, please repost my answers when the same questions keep showing up, even though they have been asked and answered.  My sites will always have my words.

Home Builders Assosciation Questions

The Denver Home Builders Association routinely meets with elected officials throughout the Greater Denver Area.  Their Board meets with Candidates for about 15 minutes to talk about developer concerns.  Here are the questions I was provided with and the answers I gave.

I very much enjoyed my conversation with them.  They were very concerned with the increased schedule time when we started talking about my Smart Growth Strategy.  I was able to tie that back to their own self-stated desire to be more involved with municipalities when development and impact fees are being discussed.  Although they asked a lot of questions on the questionnaire, all we really talked about were their schedules and fees.

     Candidate Questionnaire │ Fall 2018  │Town of Castle Rock

Name: Charles Fletcher III Email: charles@charlesformayor.com
District/Ward: Town of Castle Rock Address: 303-562-6376
Phone:303-562-6376 City: Castle Rock

This document is in Word Format so that you can fill it out on your computer.

  1. Please tell us about yourself and why you are interested in running for office.  

I am a resident of Castle Rock for almost 20 years, and have been an active volunteer, currently serving on the Planning Commission.  Previously I was the Char for the Water Commission and I have served on several committees for the Town of Castle Rock.  I volunteer in multiple Douglas County Schools.  Finally, I volunteer as a Community Safety Volunteer for the Castle Rock Police Department.

Professional I do digital product management, with an emphasis on competitive business intelligence and consumer cost transparency.

Running for Mayor is a way that I can continue to serve my town and community.  I have spent the last decade being an active volunteer in my community to learn about how the Town functions, and to listen to my neighbors and fellow residents about their excitement and concerns for the town’s future.

  • What do you identify as the top two issues facing the Town of Castle Rock and how should they be addressed?  
  1.  Growth has been the number one concern of residents for over 20 years.  Here is my answer from my website on how growth should be addressed.

Smart Growth is purposeful growth.  It is an enhancement and continuation of our community.  Castle Rock needs growth, it’s part of the 20-year forecasting, it enhances our Town and it brings positive attention. 

But Smart Growth is not “anything goes”.  Smart Growth is not retail without primary employment to support the community. Smart Growth is about balanced growth across all of Castle Rock

This is my approach should I receive your support.  Zoning and Site Development Plan (SDP) review needs to happen earlier with boards and citizen outreach.  Boards and Council should be empowered to have a stronger conversation with developers earlier in the process.  New development needs to enhance Castle Rock as a whole.  Outlying areas that refuse to annex because of our design guidelines should not be eligible for town service partnerships, including water and sewer services.  We need to be a leader of Douglas County policy and not an enabler of bad policy.

Town incentives and special accommodations need to be reserved for Primary Employers, not for additional retail. This allows us to focus on bringing jobs to town that allow people to live, work and shop all in Castle Rock.  Retail is welcome, but we should focus our limited resources on the positive impact of more people around that are able to spend money, not to offer the same few people more choices on where to shop.

  1. Water is a top concern and a constant source of questions within the town.

Castle Rock residents and developers need to understand that Castle Rock growth means that we need to treat water as a rare and precious commodity.  We feel the pain when we see our water bills.  Castle Rock Water has been planning for the growing expense of water.  Rates and fee increases are real but low and steady and grow at a forecasted and predictable rate.  Denver Water saw a 25-35% increase in 2016 for some of their customers.

We should put a larger emphasis on the variable portion of the bill so that residents have more control over their expenses based on their personal conservation efforts.  The highest tier of watering surcharges should be increased dramatically to highlight the danger that can happen when members of the community do not recognize the importance of the common shared resource.

Long-term infrastructure and design within Castle Rock Water are sound, with purchasing of additional supplies, increased renewable water capacity and supply, and cutting-edge storage solutions that are being explored.

Commercial and residential irrigation continues to be the largest use of water.  Steps have recently been taken to curb the planting of water-intensive lawns in new developments, but the town needs to push further to reduce high water landscaping for all new construction, and to create appropriate incentive programs so existing homeowners can affordably but quickly embrace low water use options, returning even more control of the water bills to the users.  The Town needs to aggressively partner with HOA’s to update requirements that are appropriate to Castle Rocks needs as a community.

  • What do you believe is the appropriate role of town government in guiding or managing growth and what role does residential development play in your vision for the future of your municipality?

There are several arms of government, even at the town level that need to be addressed.

Town staff should be available to help developers (residential or commercial) understand the town’s rules and vision.  Town Staff should be the initial point of contact to help answer basic questions and to start preparing data in a way that allows others within the town government to provide their reviews.

Elected and appointed officials should serve as a different role.  They are the voice of citizens, and represent they represent residents, including desires and concerns.  They should provide constructive feedback through town staff to help direct projects early in the process, before any party has had a major financial expense.

Town Council specifically needs to balance the interests of current residents with new and future residents.  Council also needs to recognize and respect individual property rights of land owners.

  • What are your thoughts or position on Limited or No-Growth initiatives (at either the local or state level) in regard to residential construction?

I believe the market will adequately decide growth rates. The role of the municipality is to make sure that impact fees are appropriate and timely to cover major infrastructure costs.  If there are specific logistical concerns around timing/location of projects those should be handled individually.  The local government needs to be a partner, not an adversary.

  • What is your position on transportation at the local, regional and state level?

Until all jobs, education and social activities occur online, transportation needs to be a major factor in all zoning and site plan reviews. 

Castle Rock in particular is very far behind on developing a robust transportation model that addresses the needs of low primary employment suburban areas.  This will require partnerships with regional and possibly state agencies, but the ultimate responsibility for Castle Rock transportation needs to reside with Castle Rock residents and their elected officials.

  • There are a number of ways local codes, regulations and fees add to the cost of housing.  In turn, there is economic and other benefit to the local and regional community when development occurs and catching up with the state’s high demand for housing will help with the supply/demand issue facing many areas.  More and more families and individuals are seeking more attainably-priced homes.  Given the increasing costs of development and need for more attainable housing, what role do you think local government should play in either curbing the costs of development or seeking ways to promote more attainable housing options? 

Fees are not the primary contributor to increased housing costs.  Increased housing costs are based on companies trying to maximize their revenue.

Specific policies regarding this should be presented by land development professionals, however I will say that it is dangerous and irresponsible for a municipality to waive a primary source of income for any reason.

If affordable housing is a Town’s goal (a big assumption, many residents view their properties as investments), then the town needs to clearly outline any such affordable housing requirements in zoning and SDP rules.

  • What do you know about your County’s building and development permit process and do you have any ideas to improve or streamline it?  

The Town has its own permitting process separate from Douglas County.  I have a good level of familiarity with the process, but I am not an expert on the details around each individual step.

Part of the County difficulty is that people want to avoid annexation, but they want the advantages of CR as a neighbor, meaning their process involves extended negotiations with multiple entities, especially when developers outside of town are trying to avoid Town restrictions (height, light, density, skyline, etc.).

Within the Town of CR the process tracks favorably to performance SLAs, however developers might feel the process is longer due to the number of iterations.  Per my Smart Growth platform outlined above and available on my website, more empowered boards, involved earlier in the process to speak to resident issues as opposed to just the Town staff and the legal requirements, could make the initial phases of the process take a but longer, but again this would occur before significant and detailed plans have been created.  This cooperation and conversation would then benefit everyone as the process moves forward.

  • Are you aware of how much impact fees contribute to the cost of housing in the Town of Castle Rock and how it impacts the municipality, home buyers and the home building industry? 

Yes.

  • How familiar are you with the Construction Defect issue that plagues builders, contractors, counties, and municipalities across the state as they seek the construction of more for-sale/attached/multi-family units?  Despite some recent advancements in the past year, construction defects will continue to be a highly-debated issue.  Please tell us your thoughts or position on this issue, and if you have any ideas to help promote the construction of more for-sale units. 

This has been an ongoing issue for many years now.   I am open to hearing ideas from industry professionals, but I do not have any further to offer in this area.  

  1. If elected, how would you involve and work with the home building industry?

I would continue to engage them as a valued investor within the community.  MY emphasis would be to make sure that their development enhances the community, while I would respect their need to make a profit.

In quasi-judicial settings, I would maintain the needs of the quasi-judicial process to maintain as much objectivity and fairness as possible.

In reality, I would prefer to see early stages of developers and town government engage in meaningful conversations that address both legal requirements, but also elements identified in Town’s Vision and Master Planning documents that might not be municipal code but are important to the community.

  1. Are you interested in a contribution and/or endorsement from the MHC?

If the Metro Housing Coalition (MHC) provides your campaign with a contribution, to whom should we make the check out to? (i.e. The Committee to Elect XXX, etc.). 

Please make check out to: Committee to Elect Charles Fletcher

Address and zip code: 3621 Golden Spur Lp

                                       Castle Rock, CO 80108

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.  Here are the next steps:

  • If you are interested in interviewing with the Metro Housing Coalition, please return this questionnaire to ctalbert@hbadenver.com  or  by mail to HBA of Metro Denver, 9033 E. Easter Place, Ste. 200, Centennial, CO 80112
  • This questionnaire is due by Friday, September 7, 2018 or sooner if you’d like to be interviewed the week of September 10th.
  • Sean Maley of CRL Associates will reach out on behalf of Chérie Talbert, HBA Senior Vice President and Director of the Metro Housing Coalition to schedule a time for a 30-minute interview at the HBA of Metro Denver offices in Centennial.
  • If you have any questions, please call Cherie at 303-551-6734 or email at ctalbert@hbadenver.com and we really look forward to meeting with you!

Castle Rock News Press

Below is what I was sent to complete for the Castle Rock News-Press

Please answer the background questions and the five questions below that. When answering, it is important that you stick to the word limit posted to the right of the question. If your answers are too long, editors will trim them. Please return this questionnaire to us by 5 p.m. Thursday, September 13, and include a high-resolution head shot of yourself.

Background

Profession: IT Consultant, semi-professional volunteer

How long have you lived in town?  Approximately 20 years

Campaign website: charlesformayor.com

Questions for mayoral candidates

Why are you seeking this office? (Answer in 75 words or fewer.)

I want my kids to love this town as much as I do.  I have spent the last decade learning and volunteering locally.  My friends all around town asked me to run since I am about solving problems, not about politics or drama.  This is a big change for Castle Rock, and I want to make sure we get this right.

What makes you the best choice for this office? (Answer in 75 words or fewer.)

My knowledge of Castle Rock is current and town wide.  I am informed, I am engaged, and I listen to everyone who cares about this community.  I want to solve problems, I want to prepare the Town for the future (municipal broadband, public safety, transportation).   I am the educated and experienced voice for a whole Castle Rock that is moving forward, not looking back.

What are the most important duties of the mayor? (Answer in 75 words or fewer.)

The single most important duty is to have an effective working relationship with their fellow council members.  A mayor must be able to manage the agenda and personalities to make sure that the business of the town stays timely, accurate and transparent.  They also need to be an ambassador to get everyone else excited about Castle Rock so that everyone wants to be a part of our Vision.

What should be done to ensure a high quality of life for residents as the town’s population continues to grow? (Answer in 75 words or fewer.)

More at charlesformayor.com/platform

We must be smarter about how we grow. Strong boards, and smart zoning guidelines with citizen transparency and engagement.

Acquiring and using water need to be smart, engaged choices. Choices, actions and behaviors should determine the water bill. We need to make changes to landscaping, and irrigation.

For over 15 years growth has been the #1 concern of our residents. Our Council needs to be accountable and transparent to Citizens.

What will your top priority be if you are elected to this office? (Answer in 75 words or fewer.)

Rebuilding public trust that their elected officials are in office to serve the citizens of Castle Rock.

Beyond that reengaging and empowering Boards and Commissions, exploring municipal broadband, and listening.  In the end everyone wants Castle Rock to be a better place with their contributions, so let’s have some conversations about how all the parties in Castle Rock can effectively engage.

District Representation

The citizens of Castle Rock who voted in the November 2017 special election overwhelmingly supported changing from an appointed mayor to an at-large directly elected mayor.  The process to make this change was a terrific reminder of the power of our legislative process, but it also highlighted some of the problems when a complex change has to be reduced to a referendum sized block of legal text.

According to the National League of Cities, there are three main types of municipal representation, At-large, district and mixed.  By adopting this hybrid system we are definitively moving in the right direction for Castle Rock’s future.

However, a major concern throughout the whole process was the concern that with this change, was that one district would always have double representation, with a council member who is required to live within that district, and a mayor, who would also live in that district.  The Castle Rock redistricting guidelines and outcomes were focused on contiguous boundaries, similar population (current and with projections) and to avoid de-seating any currently elected official that has geographic requirements.  

2018 Castle Rock District Map

District 2 (in green) currently seems the most contorted of the districts, but it does match the criteria established.

So will any of the above districts having double representation create a real problem?  Probably.  Districts 1, 3, 5 and 6 all have minimal business properties. District 4 contains Historic Downtown Castle Rock and a large number of local businesses.  The strange boundaries of District 2 isolate 3 large residential neighborhoods, but also include the biggest national retail elements.

So a high level analysis of the make up of the districts would seem to highlight that double representation in Districts 1, 3 5 and 6 would be problematic if one or both of the representatives had a personal investment in Home Building Industries.

District 4 would have potential conflicts of interest if one or both representatives had homes and businesses within the area.

District 2 would have conflicts if one or both representatives had strong commercial property development interests, or were aligned with large retail organizations.

So due diligence on candidates and existing representation will be important when making your vote.  Double representation in a district is unavoidable with our new laws, but we should be aware of the risks certain districts pose and how that will impact Council prioritization and budgets.

CRGov.com Hidden Treasures

They gave all municipal candidates these links for our reference, but I thought I would share them here as well.  Information is only useful if it is in the hands of those who need it.

Transparency Portal:  So much information hidden behind such an innocuous portal.

Town Code:  The Rules, regulations, charter and other legalese that make us the Town we are.

Town Survey:  Tremendous details on the latest and most comprehensive citizen survey ever initiated by the town.   But I encourage you to poke around there are surveys dating back over a decade showing almost all the same issues and frustrations that are still being voiced today.  This is the #1 reason why I’m the smart choice for Castle Rock, I am the only choice that is not more of the same.

Property Tax:  Everyone’s favorite subject, TAXES!  This site has excellent information highlighting where property tax revenues go.  What is missing are the other sources of revenue and discussions about how Enterprise Funds and Capital Funds Operate.  But you’ll start to learn how Special Districts are abused by developers to get out of their share.

Comprehensive Master Plan:  A great experiment to see if we can channel our communities needs in a way that allows maximum flexibility.  The upside, potential conversations with developers on how to best grow castle rock.  The risk, this is conversational, not legally binding.  I use this document as a checklist on Planning Commission to make sure items that are presented uphold the values presented within this document.  And I helped write it.

Budgets and Audits: A detailed look at where the money is going.  Sure to upset some, but important to know what the reality is.

Your Town Academy:  Want to learn about the Town, but don’t have the time for a full commission appointment?  Currently, in the third year, this is a great way to learn about all the major functions of the town.  I graduated from this program the first year it was offered.

Boards and Commissions: A great way to start your volunteer experience and to start learning the details about how a specific element of the town is run.  These Boards and Commissions are the Town Staff’s first opportunity to present ideas to the public and are an invaluable resource to the Town Council.

Water Plans:  Detailed guides to our strategy, including additional resources, renewable efforts, conservation and rates & fees.  I served as the chair on the Water Committee for 6 years, so I know how complex this issue can be.

Transportation Master Plan:  I’m going to break with my normally pro-town voice on this, but this master plan while presented in a positive light really does a disservice by not highlighting the shortcomings we are facing, in terms of capital, changing demographics, and economic relevancy. I don’t have the solution for our transportation issues, but this document does start helping us frame the conversation.

Events: Multiple Calendar for what’s happening in town.  Useful, but it shows how outdated the CRGOV.com portal is, and highlights the need for a much more comprehensive community calendar.

Nonpartisan, Unaffiliated, Conservative, Progressive.  The Power of Labels

I like to start my positions slowly with facts and build from there, so please stick with me.

Let’s start with some basic definitions all taken from dictionary.com

Non-partisan

adjective

  1. not partisan; objective.
  2. not supporting or controlled by a political party, special interest group, or the like.

Unaffiliated

adjective

  1. not officially connected or associated with an organization

Conservative

adjective

  1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

Progressive

adjective

  1. favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters:

TLDR: Yup I’m far and away the most non-partisan, unaffiliated candidate on the ballot.

But I think all platforms and viewpoints are valid.  I would rather have a conversation with any individual, to understand what their hopes are moving forward, and what their fears are that concern them so that we can have a conversation between all the engaged parties to find a solution that works best for the most people.  And it is all about the people.

Conservative: I want to preserve the weak Mayor and the structure of the Town Council; I want to preserve the Town Manager role that allows the CR departments to do 20-year planning.  I support investigating municipal broadband.  This has been a major driver in every conservative county in Colorado, Douglas County is simply being an anachronism by refusing to discuss it.  I think we need to move water fees from being so heavily impacted on fixed fees to variable/usage fees so that citizens have the opportunity to control their own budget.

Progressive: I think the grocery tax needs to be evaluated, and solutions presented, but this will come down to a need for other forms of revenue collection as opposed to any cutting spending. I think municipal broadband is what allows towns and cities to grow from a Sales Tax dependency, into a robust multidimensional and robust economy.  Reform?  Yes, I am all in favor of constantly evaluating our government to make sure it is accountable and transparent.

So why is it important for the mayor election to be nonpartisan?

A Partisan election means that Political Parties would run a primary and nominate from those within their pool.  A nonpartisan election means anyone who wants to contribute can do so with following the town’s rules.  The Town rules are 1) resident for 1 year, 2) 18 years of age 3) 10 signatures from each of the 6 districts.

In an earlier post, I was misquoted when I spoke to the Town Advisory board (Chaired and staffed by the Teal/Reed/Harlos alliance).  I was making the following points to the committee, and these were my suggestions.  1) A mayor should have some experience with the Town, having served on Council or a board/commission.  2) The mayor in their non-partisan capacity should place town first and not be an active member of an organized external party, particularly in regard to holding a position within the party structure or even acting as a caucus member.  3)  tighter rules around attendance and conflicts of interests.

Finally, on a more personal matter, I volunteered to serve my community as a Mayor.  I am used to the name calling, it happens when you are willing to talk to anyone about politics.  But targeting any petition signer is NOT OK.  Petitions are open records for audit purposes, the use of cherry-picked individual supporters to become targets of bullying and intimidation is NOT OK.  The bullying present in the Teal/Reed/Harlos alliance is NOT OK.  The anonymity from which cowards post, while pushing others into the spotlight is NOT OK.

Why is it important I’m unaffiliated?

Because I have no other interests besides serving my town.  When I have run (and lost) I didn’t disappear from the town for over a decade.  I volunteered, I learned, I listened.  Sometimes I even presented some ideas that others liked.  I won’t be canceling Council Meetings, so I can go caucus, or attend a Party Event to make a political career.  I am happy to partner and work with the County and State on initiatives that benefit Castle Rock residents.  I am not interested in County, State or Federal elected positions.

If anyone ever wants to have a conversation, or have a question answered, I’m happy to listen to whatever you have to say.  But until you have something to contribute besides name calling and intimidation, you’ll forgive me for not feeding the Trolls.

In closing, I had Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Green Party and unaffiliated voters all signed my petition.  The Castle Rock Mayor is about the people of Castle Rock.  All the People.  And I am the only candidate who will talk to anyone; listen to their thoughts and consider solutions for everyone.  When people signed my petition, it doesn’t mean they are supporting me financially, or even giving me their vote, it just means I was willing to stop and talk with them and to ask for this most basic level of support.

Slander Begins!

Good evening,

I was made aware of some posts made on Facebook today that either have been deleted or that I am simply blocked form viewing.

The significance of these comments was that I was against the elected position and that I am disingenuous and self-serving for volunteering to serve my community in the new reality of direct elections.

To be clear, I did sign the petition to put the elected mayor to a popular vote.

However, I did have many concerns with the referendum as it was written. My biggest issues were 1) that the referendum did not adequately address all the instances of Town Code that would be impacted by such a change and that could be abused by people with in-depth experience with the municipal charter, and that 2) this was an issue that could be civilly addressed (and possibly resolved) if Town Council would simply allow public comments and input when they made their decision and that calling a series of special elections would be costly to the town and the citizens and there might be better ways of addressing the concerns.

In regards to issue 1, this has been proven accurate in the continued delays by the town and the special committee appointed to review the new law and to make recommendations on how to move forward. The committee that oversaw the review of mayoral requirements and ultimate recommendation to Town Council was led by George Teal and chaired by Randy Reed. I did apply to contribute to this committee but was not selected by the Town Council representatives, to whom I honestly expressed my reservations about a direct election, but emphasized my desire to assist the Town as it made the transition.

In regards to Town Council civility regarding public input, the council has had many years and many instances to be more open and transparent with the public on their elections (see side-note below) but under past and current councils, the representatives have declined to be inclusive or transparent.

Side-note: The Mayor election of Council members is a secret ballot, no councilman is held accountable or visible on their choice for mayor. The “unanimous” election results that have been published are council members unanimously confirming the RESULTS of the secret ballot, not their positions themselves. And it is this level of skulduggery that I am volunteering myself to try and go in and address and fix. Am I perfect? No. Have I changed my mind on issues as I have been educated and learned more? absolutely.

If the tone of the election continues down this path I’m sure I’ll receive many questions on my positions. Chances are we won’t agree 100% of the time. But if there is ever a question as to my thoughts, or actions I will be happy to address them directly. I will not hide behind an anonymous site and slander any candidates. As I have stated before I hope this election can be about issues and policies, and the differences on approaches and priorities among the candidates, but so far I am the only person who has offered anything beyond “Hey remember me? I’m running!”