Broomfield mayoral, City Council candidates debate housing, oil and gas, recreational marijuana-2017
Updated: May 1
Personalities and personal opinions on issues ranging from recreational marijuana and affordable housing to the ever-present topic of oil and gas were discussed during a forum for Broomfield mayoral and City Council candidates on Wednesday night.
Candidates were given a minute for introductions, where people focused their message on careers, family and views for Broomfield’s future, and then a minute to answer each question.
Access Broomfield Chamber, the Broomfield Enterprise and the League of Women Voters hosted the forum, which took place at the George Diciero City and County Building.
All 14 candidates running in the November election attended: Randy Ahrens and T.J. Cole, running for mayor; James Marsh-Holschen and Elizabeth Law-Evans for Ward 1; Sharon Tessier for Ward 2; Rick Fernandez and Deven Shaff for Ward 3; Jason Anderson, Brian Devine, Kimberly Groom and Susan Speece for Ward 4; and Guyleen Catriotta, Grayson Hofferber and Karl Honegger for Ward 5.
Carol Wood, editor of the Broomfield Enterprise and moderator of the event, asked if candidates supported Ballot Question 301, which aims to add language Home Rule Charter that will emphasize the city’s commitment to the health, welfare and safety for Broomfield residents when considering the presence of industrial operations — especially oil and gas — within city limits.
The initiative has done nothing but divide Broomfield, Hofferber said, and implies the city and county has no intention of protecting residents’ health and safety. That being said, he thanked all those who walked streets to gather petition signatures to get the item on the ballot.
“It’s not my place to tell you what to vote,” he said. “That is a decision that you as voters get to make.”
Some candidates took a stronger stance on the issue, such as Groom, who does not support the initiative. In her 44 years in Broomfield, she has never felt that health and safety has been an issue for herself or her family and friends.
“Do I agree with every decision the city has made in the past 40 years?” she said. “No, no, but feel like those decisions were made with my health and safety in mind.”
Battles lie ahead in regard to oil and gas, she said, and Broomfield needs to be picky on which to pick.
The topic of marijuana brought a variety of responses, from Hofferber acknowledging that he has tried it marijuana and would be open to a discussion about the retail side of allowing it if citizens wanted to see it, to others saying they would like to see the current ban extended, including Speece.
Her concern, she said, was for the youth.
“Biological research on what happens to young minds that participate in marijuana use is quite frightening and it’s irreversible,” said Speece, who spent her career in biology-centric academia.
All candidates agreed that affordable housing is something that Broomfield needs to address.
Multiple candidates said the issue not only impacted low-income households, but teachers, firefighters and city and county workers who cannot afford to live in Broomfield.
Marsh-Holschen called it a complex issue and referenced how Lakewood established its own housing authority, which could be a good step for Broomfield to take. The creation of the Housing Advisory Committee, on which Law-Evans and Tessier currently sit as council representatives, is a good first step, he said.
Ahrens, the third incumbent, called on years of history to answer questions and emphasized his own contributions, serving on groups including the Metro Mayor Coalition.
As mayor, he has also created programs such as the Broomfield 100, Broomfield Volunteer Day and State of the City, an annual update on Broomfield’s accomplishments.
Questions that were not asked — which included mental health services, property taxes and visions for downtown — will be typed up and sent to council candidates so that they have a clearer idea of what their constituents want to know more about.
Candidates were given two minutes at the end of the three-hour forum to drive home final points — on traffic, oil and gas and water plans, which were not included in a forum question — and thanked family members for their support.