By Bud Starker
Between the time I’m writing this column and when you’re probably reading it, I will be passing about 100 days as the mayor of Wheat Ridge. I am honored and humbled to serve in this office and wanted to share some of the activities in which I have been involved on your behalf. I divide the work between “in city” and “out of city.” I’ll touch on some of the “in city” activities below and will discuss the “out of city” activities in a future column.
One of the main duties of the mayor is to preside over city council meetings and study sessions. Starting with my investiture six days after the election, I have presided over five meetings and four study sessions. While I had a general familiarity with the order of service, the “devil is in the details” and I’m still a work in progress on some of the details. One of my major objectives as the hearing officer for these meetings is to develop a clear and consistent tone that provides a fair and efficient process in an open and welcoming environment.
In addition to dispatching the more routine business of the council, we have had many highlights to brighten our meetings and showcase the life of our community. The Wheat Ridge Pom Team joined us one night to celebrate their state championship and on another Boy Scout Troop 329 presented the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
One of the best ways to know what’s happening in our city, and to let your elected officials know your feelings on any issue, is to speak at the public comment section of our meetings. Council welcomes your input and I have worked to create a space that welcomes our citizens and their feedback.
But the work of the mayor extends far beyond the walls of City Hall. Reaching out to our city’s citizens yields some very interesting and rewarding experiences. I was honored to be invited to the retirement celebration for Dan Ward, the principal organist at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, who devoted 40 years of his life to inspired musical ministry. I joined with the city’s faith community and the Wheat Ridge Police Department (WRPD) in a timely discussion of safety and security at our houses of worship, and joined a full congregation to celebrate the life of Kent Davis, one of the founders of Wheat Ridge. I also helped celebrate the Wheat Ridge Chamber’s new executive director and joined Cambridge Park for their annual HOA meeting.
The holiday season provided many opportunities to celebrate Wheat Ridge – the lighting of our community tree on the Ridge at 38th and being able to tape a live television interview on CW2/FOX31 with Right Coast Pizza to promote our city’s event. My heart was truly inspired as I joined members of the WRPD, city staff and many community volunteers to wrap hundreds of donated gifts to bring joy to children in a season meant for giving and joy.
Our children are the key to our future and I am pleased to have been able to meet with Josh Cooley, the new principal of Wheat Ridge High School, and join the finish-line celebration at the Farmers 5000. (I’m not a runner yet but will see what spring brings!) I’m excited about the great offerings at the school, from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), to sports, to the Career Explorer program providing expanded workforce development opportunities for students, and many areas in between. I have attended school district meetings to discuss the future of public education delivery in our community, and met with concerned citizens over the critical need for low-cost, high-quality childcare in our city.
Continuing an initiative from my predecessor, I have encouraged the Environmental Sustainability Committee in their work to make our city more sustainable and joined them in a visit to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Tuning up my bicycle, I rode with the ATATs (Active Transportation Advisory Team) to deliver tons of books to elementary school children, feeling first-hand some of the benefits of riding my bike around town and watching the delight of children receiving books to forward their quest for knowledge. The ATATs also donated a half-dozen or so refurbished bicycles to needy kids that day – talk about a great afternoon!
Coffee as a meeting paradigm is alive and well in Wheat Ridge and to which I have added myself as a participant. It’s been an opportunity to get to know citizens who may have seemed political opponents but turned out to share much more in common than not. I discovered a common desire to honor that which is best of our history and to make our city a welcoming place to live.
So far, this short 100 days has been long on people to meet, things to do and places to go. I am excited by the work and honored by your trust. Please email me at email@example.com or call me on my office phone 303-235-2800. I look forward to seeing you around town.
Contact Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-235-2800.