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By Joyce Jay

Those selected to govern our city are an undeniable reflection of the votes that were cast in our last election. As the leaves begin to change and more yard signs appear, it is clear that election season 2017 has arrived. This means you once again have a job to do. This is your opportunity to help create what you want to see in the way of city governance. That’s right; the spotlight is on you to make some serious choices that will have a significant impact on our quality of life and how the work of City Hall gets accomplished in Wheat Ridge.

Keeping that in mind, you need to ask yourself some important questions: Whom do you trust with the value of your home or business? Who do you want deciding how your tax money is spent? Whom do you want determining if Wheat Ridge has enough police protection, or what tools our police department needs to protect your life and property?

This year’s ballot includes four open City Council positions as well as the position of mayor. It is time to ask ourselves if we view those running for city office as leaders or just well-meaning community members. Are their hearts full of what is best for Wheat Ridge, or are they simply looking for a title; or worse yet, are they using the position as a stepping-stone to the next political office? Does your favorite candidate have a vision for our city? Will they work to protect our community as well as expand future possibilities for growth and economic success?

We need people leading city government who understand the big picture, which I believe, is progress tempered by a genuine respect for our existing Wheat Ridge values. This fall the choice will be yours to elect leaders who understand that while we are smaller than some neighboring cities, we should be afforded the same opportunities. We want to continue to take pride in our city, the safety of our community, the job and educational opportunities that exist, and the investment community members and the business community continue to make in securing a successful future for Wheat Ridge.    

When a candidate comes to your door, you have the opportunity to find out who they are and what their plans are for Wheat Ridge. Take the time to tell them what you want and remember to ask them what they see for our future. Will they continue on the current progressive path or do they have a different vision? As we evolve, our demographics are changing and bringing more young families and professionals into our community. That means our investment as a city in business development and housing should increase. We also have a large number of residents who are retiring and want to stay in the community they have always called home. How are we planning for the needs of these diverse groups of people? With the G Line commuter rail line opening this year and residential housing being built at The Corners, Clear Creek Crossing, and the West End at 38th, Wheat Ridge will continue to attract more people. How will we engage them in the community and encourage the adoption of what we value in the quality of life here?

In the past few years, Wheat Ridge has become part of a regional collaboration. Regional involvement has created access to Denver Regional Council of Government grants for such projects as the Kipling Trail and the widening of Wadsworth. We regularly provide input on issues critical to the development of Jefferson County, including concerns about homelessness, education, business, citizen health, safety, flood control, and bike connectivity — all of which add value to living and working in our city. Our elected officials must also be well prepared to participate in our state legislative process to testify and bring forward the wishes and concerns of our community.   

We are asking a lot of those seeking office, as we should. Now it is your turn to decide who will lead our city. In addition to town hall meetings where you can meet the candidates, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, the League of Women Voters will host an Election Forum from 6 to 8 p.m. at City Hall. The event will be televised on Channel 8 and will be rebroadcast multiple times later that month.

Yes, this November it is your turn to choose the principal players of local representative government — and your responsibility to be sure these individuals represent you and the city you love.   

Contact Wheat Ridge Mayor Joyce Jay at 303-420-8533 or jjay@ci.wheatridge.co.us.