Questionnaire: Colorado Hometown Weekly

Christiaan van Woudenberg

Website: c4erie.com

Age: 46

Family: Daughters Anika (15) and Isobel (12)

How long have you lived in Erie: 12 ½ years

Professional background: I ran my own software company for 5 years before moving to enterprise software development, where I’ve done everything from user interfaces to database design. I’m currently a Chief Product Owner at Maxar, Inc. in Westminster, where I coordinate software development for a group that creates advanced products from our satellite imagery.

Political/community experience:  Trustee, Town of Erie. Liaison to Tree, Sustainability Advisory Boards. Editor-in-Chief, Erie Protectors.

Education: Undergraduate degree in molecular biology, graduate work in computational biology/operations research.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Erie’s population increased by 40% from April 2010 to July 2018. What factors do you think the town should consider as it continues to grow? 

We must continue to aggressively pivot from an over-reliance on residential building permits to establish a diverse, sustainable commercial tax base. While the Town’s sales tax revenue has quadrupled over the same period, we lag far behind other communities in commercial development and primary employment to allow more Erie residents to “keep it local” by working and shopping in Town. The Town Center project is just one example of how staff is embracing the Board’s direction to “think out of the box” and bring unique place-making opportunities to Erie.

The adoption of a robust Home Rule charter is crucial to codify the Town’s long-term vision; it gives us the flexibility to adopt regulations around streets and traffic, zoning and development, tax collection, a more suitable council structure, and more to self-govern where it makes sense. Given 93% of Colorado residents already live in a Home Rule municipality, we’re long overdue to undertake this task.

In light of the passage last year of Senate Bill 181, what changes do you think, if any, Erie should make to its oil and gas policy and regulations? 

We must put an end to the practice of residential drilling; if only we treated unconventional oil & gas exploration like any other industry, the practice would cease to exist. This is consistent with the local municipal authority granted by SB19-181’s to protect public health, safety, welfare, and the environment. Broomfield’s current experience with Extraction Oil & Gas are the latest example of how this heavy industrial activity is incompatible with residential development.

I believe in a just transition from fossil fuels to carbon-free renewables; I’ll vigorously support programs that ensure the workers that have given so much to heat our homes, fuel our cars, and ensure our energy independence can transfer their skills to other industries.

In the wake of the recent fraud to which the town fell victim, what financial oversight measures would you like to be considered or implemented? 

The Finance department has already removed the ETF payment option, instituted numerous policy changes, conducted security trainings, and is working to fill a number of open positions approved by the Board before this incident occurred. The Town has also recently received a high score on a CIRSA Loss Control Audit that validate the preventative measures taken since November. I am satisfied we have taken the necessary steps to minimize the risk of such an event reoccurring.