Compiled by Gwen Clayton
Wheat Ridge City Council candidates running on the November 2017 ballot were required to file paperwork with the city clerk by close of business Aug. 28. The following week, the Neighborhood Gazette emailed questionnaires to the hopefuls, along with a request for a high-resolution headshot photo, to be published with their responses to the questions below:
1. What is your name, position running for, occupation, previous occupations, how long you've lived in the city, and any personal details you want readers to know about you.
2. Have you served in public office before? If so, what position, where and when?
3. Have you volunteered in your community? If so, what position, where and when?
4. What are the three most important issues facing your city, and how will you address them if elected?
5. Please provide basic contact information: Website, phone number, email, social media, as well as name of candidate committee and chairperson.
Responses are published verbatim, although they may have been edited for length (character limits were included in the questionnaire), readability, potential libelous content, offensiveness or poor taste.
The Neighborhood Gazette does not endorse candidates. Individual staff members may be involved in political campaigns, but they do not speak officially for the newspaper.
Please Note: Due to a production error, we inadvertently omitted Tim Fitzgerald’s response for the “volunteer” portion of his candidate response in the print version. It is listed in it’s entirety below. We apologize for the error.
District I Candidates
Janeece Hoppe (incumbent, uncontested)
Who: Owner Compass Mechanical Heating & Cooling, Owner All Points Electrical, Owner 7014 -7020 west 38th ave , previous Owner of Compass Construction. I have lived in Wheat Ridge since October 2011, with my Husband & 3 daughters.
Public Office: In November 2015, I was appointed to fill City Treasurer Jerry DiTullio’s City Council Seat for District 1, Wheat Ridge CO, where I am currently serving the public.
Volunteer: 2011-2015- Localworks; Construction Committee, Treasurer, Vice President, President; 2011- Current- Wheat Ridge Business District; Board Member; 2012-Current- The Family Tree; Development Committee; 2014 – Current- WRHS Poms Treasurer.
Most Important Issues:
• There are many important issues in our community and to pick just three is difficult, however I believe it starts with having economically viable commercial areas. To be able to address other issues within our community we need to have a strong and diverse sales tax base. We need to support our existing commercial areas; we can do that trough the WRBD grant programs and joint marketing efforts. We also need to pro-actively identify areas for redevelopment both in the current environment and for long term plans.
• We need to make Public Safety a priority, by supporting the Police Department with their man power needs for pro active patrolling and code enforcement. Also, by addressing the accessibility needs in our community we can create and maintain an attractive and inviting community for all residents, all generations.
• We need to diversify our housing options, we need more “move up” size and priced housing, we also need more quality affordable housing. We can address this by updating our NRS, continuing the ADU conversations, and pro actively looking at our zoning and building codes. We also need to address the storm water and drainage issues many of our neighborhoods have.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-556-9425.
District II Candidates
Who: I’m a mom, 4th generation Colorado native & 5 year Wheat Ridge resident. I worked 18 years in real estate & am now the Bicycle Colorado Strategic Initiatives Director.
Public Office: Not yet.
Volunteer: Created Wheaties Academy, grassroots leadership Localworks program. Formed WR active transportation community group. 2014 City Council Partnership Award. Started Pints & Policy. Full list on website.
Most Important Issues:
• Lead with authentic growth. I care about keeping Wheat Ridge wonderful with a plan to preserve our heritage and a vision to create a better tomorrow. I pledge to protect our neighborhoods and create opportunities for small business while pursuing quality national retailers. Working together, we’ll identify policies to address affordability and transportation options to maintain our quality of life.
• Build strong neighborhoods. I put people first because people are the heart and the strength of Wheat Ridge. I’m a champion for improving safety on our streets. I’m passionate about strengthening local schools to be Wheat Ridge proud. I’m dedicated expanding programs so seniors can stay in our community and I pledge to reform code enforcement to be more reliable and responsive. And trees. Lots of trees!
• Ensure Wheat Ridge is welcoming. I care as much about how we do things as what things we do. From how we welcome businesses and ideas to how we treat neighbors, I value transparency, diversity, inclusion and respectful participation across generations. I promise to preserve Wheat Ridge’s small town character and to build on its history as an exceptional and wonderful place to live, work and play.
Contact: www.WheatRidgeTogether.org, 720-464-7446, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/RachelForWheatRidge/, www.instagram.com/rachel_for_wheat_ridge/, Registered agent: Kristi Davis, Campaign Manager Kristine Disney.
Zachary Urban (incumbent)
Who: City Council Member District 2, Running for Re-Election, Married, 2 Children, Self-Employed, Grew up in Arvada, Homeowner in Wheat Ridge for 10+ years, previous renter in Wheat Ridge.
Public Office: Elected to 4-year term Wheat Ridge City Council Member 2013; Governor Appointed to the Colorado Board of Real Estate Appraisers 2007; Appointed to Commissioner Jefferson County Housing Authority 2014.
Volunteer: Board Member Lutheran Medical Center Foundation; Commissioner Jeffco Housing Authority; Volunteer Girl Scouts of America; Operation Care Package: Colorado; Neighborhood Gazette Columnist (all present).
Most Important Issues:
• Recently a District Court Judge ruled our Charter provision limiting the use of Tax Increment Financing(TIF) was a matter mixed state concern and as such may not be enforced. If the will of the people can so easily be set aside, which issue will come up next? I appreciate the benefits of Urban Renewal and the use of TIF, I see greater benefits in being a home rule city. I choose to fight for what it means to be a home rule city, rather running rough shot over the will of citizens.
• A Better Way is a program deemed successful by City of Albuquerque to clean up their city and help the homeless at the same time, we must adopt this program here. A solid day’s work is where I learned many lessons and continue to learn to be a contributing member of our community. Being stuck in a rut, leaves the homeless fending sunrise to sunset hand to mouth is a cycle that must be broken, so let’s give them a chance to give us a solid day’s work.
• As opioid prescription drugs deaths goes down, heroin deaths continue to grow. This isn’t just about drug users; police, first responders, and K-9 units are at risk of exposure. Our goal should be to save the lives of all involved in this crisis. Increasing access to medically assisted treatment, while reducing the stigma for those seeking help in recovery is a good start. We will work with partners across the state to alleviate the pressures and risks placed on our police and first responders to stem this tide.
District III Candidates
Tim Fitzgerald (incumbent, uncontested)
Who: Councilor- District 3 / retired / publisher's agent / moved to WR as a 1st grader in 1945.
Public Office: I am up for my second term as Councilor for District 3.
Volunteer:I served as a volunteer Driver Coordinator for a homeless family program and am currently a driver. I also have been a tutor at a halfway house serving parolees and "direct-placement" prisoners.
Most Important Issues: The city has a number of difficult issues that needs to be addressed:
• Renewal of blighted areas and empty storefronts. We need to keep doing what we have been doing. The Council along with city staff and management have shepherded renewal of difficult and blighted sites at 38th and Kipling where there is now a Sprouts; at 38th and Wadsworth which will soon have a small shopping village, a Lucky's Market and residences. The former Cabela's site is progressing towards a complete re-birth with "eatertainment", and shopping- all with a connection to the greenbelt. Many other areas are also in progress.
• The Gold's Center - all involved have been trying to assist this area with no luck. So far, 2 quality anchor tenants have failed to sign on the dotted line.
• Wadsworth redevelopment - as Wadsworth begins it's 2-3 year journey to a new visually attractive major street there is opportunity to encourage upgrading businesses and their physical appearance along the corridor.
• The Wheat Ridge income challenge- as a city we receive about 70% of our income from sales and use taxes. As people switch to online shopping, which is mostly untaxed, we must find a way to adapt.
• The world is rapidly changing. Resisting change is futile; it will happen without our input in an uncontrolled and unpredictable way. Instead we must prepare for change and guide it to benefit our city and thus ourselves.
District IV Candidates
Virginia Ruth Baranowski
Who: Ruth Baranowski, Candidate for City Council District 4 I am an Artist, a social media manager and mother of one. I have lived in District 4 for 7 years.
Public Office: No I have not.
Volunteer: Chair of the 2016 D.I.R.T task force, Current Board and Committee Member of the Wheat Ridge Carnation Festival.
Most Important Issues:
• Wheat Ridge is a city with a unique take and great agricultural history but we must admit to that we are a city. As such we must look to improving our infrastructure, working on building up our affordable housing, improving our schools to build stronger neighborhoods and keeping our agricultural history alive by moving to sustainable and green practices. District IV has the ability to leverage the Gold Line as an attractive location for young professionals and families by encouraging developers to build more affordable housing or pay into a land trust to increase the diversity of housing in the area.
• We must turn our schools into true community centers, with programs that eliminate the stressors not only our students but also their families, building up our neighbors and encouraging our vulnerable communities to engage in the city they live in.
• It is important to keep the character of Wheat Ridge alive, while continuing to move forward. We have made great strides in improving safety of pedestrians and cyclists when building or upgrading street infrastructure but we have neglected the impact our streets have on our natural ecosystems. We can continue to honor history as a rural farming town and our future as a city by strategically designing landscaping and paving that capture and filter rainwater before it becomes contaminated runoff. In urban rights, such green infrastructure of stormwater may include tree planting, rain gardens, wetlands, permeable pavement and more.
Contact: You can learn more about me at ruthbaranowski.com, and reach me at my personal cell phone 720-258-6445 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find me on Facebook at Ruth Baranowski for City Council and I encourage you to reach out with any questions or comments. Neighbors 4 Ruth.
Valerie Nosler Beck
Who: Val Nosler, City Council4,Resiliency Outreach Mgr @ CO Dept. of Local Affairs, Resume avail: www.val4wheatridge.com, lived in Wheat Ridge 3 yrs, 2 kids, 1 husband, family settled 45th & Wads in 1890's.
Public Office: No I have not served in public office. I have worked as staff for US Rep. Mark Udall (DC) 2004-2007, US Sen. Evan Bayh (DC) 2008, Mayor & Gov. Hickenlooper (CO) 2009 - 15.
Volunteer: Activate38 Coalition 2017, Home on 2015 Mid Century Modern Tour, Sts. Peter & Paul Volunteer, Localworks Volunteer, Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado Board 2017, Colorado Territorial Daughter.
Most Important Issues:
• I am the 5th generation in my family to raise their kids in Wheat Ridge. I am running for City Council because I bring expertise and a fresh perspective our community needs. I am the only candidate running in District 4 that has the skill set to collaborate with state agencies, special districts, neighboring communities, residents, business and other stakeholders to solve problems and get positive outcomes. I am running for council to advance Wheat Ridge so that it can thrive for generations to come.
• We must advance welcoming & safe neighborhoods with creative low cost upgrades to help keep walkers & bikers of all ages safe. These upgrades will inform permanent infrastructure improvements to make our streets safer so we can access parks, public transportation and neighborhood schools.
• Now is the time to create a community outreach task force to address needs for residents in our community impacted by or experiencing homelessness.
Join me and support thriving business in Wheat Ridge. In District 4 businesses are conveniently located near Clear Creek trail, I-70, great restaurants, shopping and Lightrail. Let’s recruit new business by showcasing all Wheat Ridge has to offer! Wheat Ridge is at a pivotal crossroads and must find other sources of revenue. Let’s build on the great work that has been done and grow our sales tax revenue by promoting Wheat Ridge businesses and entice new business to move here.
Contact: www.val4wheatridge.com; email@example.com; 303-350-0772; Committee: Val For Wheat Ridge 4; Registered Agent: Dave Petersen; Facebook: Valerie Nosler@ValWheatRidge4; Instagram: @valnozbeck303 #val4wheatridge
Who: Leah Dozeman, Wheat Ridge City Council District IV, Program Director at Personal Achievement Martial Arts, Homemaker, Lifelong resident, Colorado native.
Public Office: I have not served in public office, but I did run for City Clerk of Wheat Ridge in 2011.
Volunteer: Carnation Festival Board: Secretary, 4 years; Parade Chair, 2 years. Participant/mentor: Wheaties Academy. Vice-President of Pennington PTA. Member of Wheat Ridge Historical Society and The Grange.
Most Important Issues:
• Wheat Ridge is nestled in between the hustle and bustle of downtown Denver and the relaxing Rocky Mountains. It is a “bedroom” community that nostalgically upholds its unique identity of being Wheat Ridge (not to be compared to or likened to any neighboring city) and an independence that we take pride in. We are considered a N.O.R.C (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) where many people come to live and only leave when they have passed away. The challenges with the aging population or lifetime/longterm residents is that they have a difficulty embracing change, EXCEPT when they are agents of that change. The key to Wheat Ridge is reaching out to the community and those that are seen as the "naysayers" and to listen to them. Hear their thoughts, their concerns, and their hopes. When they feel as if they are a part of the process, they are often more at ease and receptive to the change.
• Within District IV, over half of the houses are rentals and thus the neighborhood school, Pennington Elementary has one of the largest mobility rates in Jefferson County. Pennington was recommended for closure by the District last January and I was able to organize parents and community members that fought and were successful in preventing Pennington from being closed. We have few families with young children and thus not enough kids to fill our schools, which is why many school closures have happened or been proposed in our community, which I believe has and will continue to negatively affect our growth. People look for quality schools when determining where to settle down with their families.
• We need to support quality schools in our neighborhoods, they are the backbone of our economy and our community. I would like renters to feel invested in our community by loving the community so much that they decide to buy a home in the area when the opportunity arises. I would like to attract young families by developing the areas of WR that are undeveloped or blighted.
• The hotels in District IV make up a majority of the crimes reported in our city and I would like to continue the targeted policing of those areas and encourage those within the area to update and maintain properties, in order to reduce crime. We need to address the homelessness concerns, including the illegal camping along the greenbelt. We as a community need to be able to direct those experiencing homelessness to the organizations within Wheat Ridge and the county that can offer them help and resources, whether it be mental health services, housing, or assistance such as those that Pennington offers to its families that have fallen on tough times. It takes working with EVERYONE to get things done and solve the issues we face everyday, that is my promise as a councilor. I plan to be a leader that builds bridges to bring community together.
Candidate Committee: Registered Agent: Korey Stites; Treasurer: Anthony DiTullio; Sara Stites; and Dominick Breton.
Who: My name is Andy Rasmussen, and I am running for City Council. I am a licensed Electrician for Namaste Solar. I moved to Colorado right after college in 1999 and moved to Wheat Ridge in 2015.
Public Office: I have never served in public office before.
Volunteer: I currently serve on the Wheat Ridge Environmental Sustainability Committee. Please see the city website for more details about what the committee has been doing.
Most Important Issues:
Growth. I support planned growth for the city. I believe that Wheat Ridge is in a unique position due to its physical location and relatively low home prices in the metro area. I would like to see the city develop commercially, but not residentially. What I mean by that is I would like to see the major commercial corridors see changes, but leave the residential neighborhoods mostly unchanged except perhaps for some pedestrian improvements. This is in line with the current Comprehensive Plan and I would like to help continue the good work already completed along these lines. In addition, I believe strongly that future multi-family development should include some portion of affordable housing.
Community Development. Having attended many City Council meetings and other community gatherings in Wheat Ridge, I believe that we could bring in more community members to the process. If elected, I look forward to reaching out to my community and organizing regular neighborhood meetings where I would hope to listen more than anything as I got to know my neighbors and understand how they feel about all of the important issues our great city is facing.
38th Avenue. I support the 3 lane alignment of 38th Avenue. I have heard from people on both sides of this issue, but believe that in the long run the 3-lane more pedestrian friendly plan would help to create the "downtown" feeling business district that the City wants. I hope to see an area similar to Olde Towne Arvada or downtown Golden in Wheat Ridge, but to do that we must make some changes. I do believe that the final stage of implementation should be sent to the voters in order to approve funding for the new plantings and pedestrian friendly improvements that we would add in order to move in that direction. Plus, I would like to see a little more attention paid to 44th Avenue improvements while we improve 38th Avenue.
Candidate Committee: Andy Rasmussen for City Council District IV Chairperson: Linda Grantham