Editor’s Note: This is an annotated version of the candidate issue posted on Elife magazine. Trustee statements begin on pp70.
Tell us briefly about yourself and where you are from and why you think you’re a good candidate for the position you are running for: *
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa of Dutch parents, grew up in a small town near Edmonton, Alberta, and have been a Colorado resident for over 30 years. I’ve been in Erie for 15 years with my two teenage daughters. I hold an undergraduate degree in molecular biology from CU Boulder and completed graduate work in computational biology and exploratory data analysis at CU Denver. I’ve been an enterprise software developer, product manager, and entrepreneur for 30 years, and have been a Trustee for the Town of Erie since 2018.
I am running for re-election to ensure every Erie resident, present and future, has an opportunity to thrive. We’ve started so many important efforts over the last few years such as Town Center, the transition to home rule, and efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion. I want to see these all to fruition in my second term as Trustee.
What are your top three priorities as a candidate?
First and foremost, we need to continue our financial recovery from the devastating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic by being fiscally conservative with Town revenues while aggressively supporting and attracting local businesses.
Second, we must tackle the housing crisis head-on, so that people can afford to work, live, and thrive in our community. It hurts all of us when our teachers and police officers can’t afford to live in Erie and we can’t attract workers in the service industry.
Finally, we must address our long-term infrastructure needs. Erie is bursting at the seams due to its explosive growth. There is no longer enough room at Town Hall for all its employees, and we will soon have the same problem at the police station and the Public Works buildings. Our recreation center is at capacity, as are most of the schools in Erie. Major arterial roadways in and around Erie are clogged with traffic. Addressing these infrastructure projects will require millions of dollars of funding; by establishing a robust, diversified economy and leveraging public-private partnerships, we can succeed.
What do you think are Erie’s biggest challenges and successes?
Our biggest challenge is to escape our trajectory as a bedroom community and emerge as a grown up, thriving municipality that is both economically and environmentally sustainable. On the success front, the Nine Mile intergovernmental agreement with Lafayette put to bed a long-standing squabble, established an equitable revenue sharing agreement, and paved the way for future cooperation with Lafayette. The Town Center charrette solidified an ambitious vision for a crucial development area with the robust stakeholder engagement and. We have greatly diversified our tax base over the last 5 years; 20% of our commercial taxes are now collected from online sales and we are no longer overly-reliant on building permit fees.
Please tell us your thoughts on having Erie as a “Home Rule” town? Are you for or against this and why?
With 93% of Colorado residents living in a home rule municipality, it absolutely makes sense for us to move to home rule. I share others’ concerns about our ability to make the transition successfully. I worry about the influence of special interest groups, divisive identity politics, and the burden on Town staff to effectively communicate the benefits of home rule, to establish an equitable home rule charter commission, and to draft a home rule charter that expertly captures the vision and values of Erie residents, Town staff, and elected officials.
A successful transition to home rule begins with a concerted and persistent communications strategy to educate and engage with Erie residents about the process, benefits, and drawbacks. Only then will I have confidence that we can assemble the charter commission and craft a home rule charter. The great news is that we’re exactly where we need to be in the process according to the recent home rule survey conducted by the Town.
What vision do you have to bring diversity to Erie regarding businesses?
Diversity comes both in breadth and depth; we will succeed by embracing our DE&I goals in conjunction with existing efforts in the Town’s economic development department, the EEDC, a burgeoning makerspace community, and the promise of Town Center’s live-work opportunities and primary employment at the I-25 Erie Gateway property. Tax increment financing (TIF) brought Birdhouse, Piripi, and others to downtown; I’m excited to work with Town staff to continue pursuing innovative financing opportunities for Erie businesses. Business diversity is also inextricably linked to our housing crisis; we must address them together.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you:
I am the only Board member to have attended every single regular Board of Trustees meeting since I was elected in 2018.