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Publish Date: 3/25/2006

Milder election in Erie


ERIE — It’s an uncharacteristically quiet election season in Erie.

“This is as vanilla-wafer election as I’ve ever seen in this town,” said Trustee Tom Van Lone, a former mayor whose term will expire in 2008.

After years of pro-growth versus anti-growth candidates, and old residents versus new, no great issues divide trustee candidates this year. And no one even bothered to challenge Mayor Andrew Moore.

Who could have predicted such a sharp turn of events in 2000, when Van Lone won by three votes, or in 2003, when Mayor Barbara Connors faced a recall election?

In addition to Moore, voters are casting ballots to fill four trustee seats; the top three vote-getters will serve four-year terms, and the fourth-place finisher will complete a two-year term.

Vying for those seats are two incumbent trustees and six new new faces.

Because two trustees resigned in 2005, four seats are open.

None of the candidates believes Erie’s growth can be stopped, nor do they want to try. The town’s population swelled 28 percent in 2005 and it was the fastest-growing municipality in the metro area, according to the Denver Regional Council of Governments. But the candidates do differ in how they think the town’s government can manage that growth.

Brent Bell

Bell, a structural engineer, wants to see Erie’s sales-tax revenue increase.

“My primary goal is to see Erie become less dependent on building permits to finance itself,” he said. In the 2006 budget, the town planned for 500 building permits to be issued, accounting for 48 percent of the town’s income.

The unified development code, which is expected to be approved Tuesday, is not the total solution. “Yes, it’s an improvement, but it’s not going to solve all the problems,” said Bell, who has lived in Erie for 51/2 years.

The UDC has to leave room for planners and engineers to use common sense and good judgment, just as all national codes do, Bell said.

“We need some improvements in our ‘user-friendly’ process,” he said. The Board of Trustees should not be involved in design details, he said. “That’s why we hire planning and building departments.”

Instead, the trustees should provide oversight and guidance to those departments, Bell said.

Galen Christopher

“Infrastructure is kind of my strength,” said Christopher, a wastewater treatment plant operator in Boulder. That infrastructure — roads, water and sewer — is vital to attracting commercial development.

The town needs grocery stores and services, said Christopher, who has lived in Erie for two years.

He’s glad the UDC has been completed after two years.

“Now the developers know what they can do,” he said.

Christopher is excited by the possibility of the new recreation/senior center, especially because his wife works with senior citizens. He also believes the rec center will be key to bringing in new development, he said.

As a trustee, “you have to deal with big things as well as little things,” Christopher said. “You’ve got to be open to everybody’s ideas.”

James Feely

Feely runs GMAC Mortgage’s New Markets initiative, which reaches out to minority homeowners. As he travels around the country, he said, he sees communities dealing with growth issues much like Erie’s.

“I think I can bring a unique perspective to (the board),” the three-year Erie resident said.

He’s alarmed, though, at what he considers the rampant growth of the Tri-Towns. He recently attended a conference during which some of those officials spoke about growth.

“All they were trying to do is get tax base, regardless of the impact,” Feely said.

The Board of Trustees has to keep its eye on what the community wants yet maintain the town’s flavor and character, he said.

“Our role is to keep in mind the long-term health and well-being as we guide (the town) toward what it can become,” Feely said.

Tina Harris

Harris is the longest resident of Erie who is seeking election this year. She’s lived in the town for eight years.

Harris decided to run for trustee because “I believe in Erie. I believe in the small-town community.”

That feeling can be maintained, she said, even as the town attracts commercial growth.

“The Board of Trustees’ main function in managing growth is to maintain balance between commercial growth, residential growth and open space,” Harris said.

As commercial growth comes to the Interstate 25 corridor and the town’s center, at Leon Wurl Parkway and East County Line Road, Harris wants to keep her eye on Old Town as well, so that business district remains secure, she said.

To facilitate communication between trustees and residents, Harris suggested hosting monthly coffees for casual conversation.

“It’s not just the trustees’ vision of Erie; it’s the town’s vision of Erie we need to listen to,” she said.

Cheryl Hauger

Hauger also is concerned about balance as Erie continues to grow.

“They need to make sure it is beneficial for the community and enhances the quality of life,” she said, citing trails, open space and traffic as relevant issues.

Because she has not been involved in town politics before, Hauger said, she comes to the board without a set agenda.

“I’m more open to new ideas and creative ways of dealing with issues surrounding the town,” she said. “Instead of the trustees telling people what they need, I want to hear what they want.”

She agrees that Erie needs more commercial development, especially retail stores.

“I want to make it a lot more than a bedroom community,” said Hauger, who has lived in Erie for six years.

Brian Hogenes Lewis

Hogenes Lewis, who has lived in Erie for 21/2 years, wants to oversee slow to moderate growth and enhance the town’s open space, he said.

Open space, parks and trails are easily taken for granted, he said. “It is possible to overlook them until it’s too late,” he said.

“Moderate commercial growth is necessary to provide amenities and increase sales-tax revenue,” Hogenes Lewis said.

The board’s role in managing growth is “to make informed decisions in the best interests of the community,” he said.

He decided to run for office because he is “interested in providing service and leadership,” he said.

Besides growth and open space, Hogenes Lewis is concerned about public safety, especially fire department response times on the town’s south side.

Glenn Massarotti

Massarotti is preparing to move to a new house in Creekside after nearly six years in Canyon Creek South. “We are invested in this town,” he said of his family.

A trustee since February 2005, Massarotti said the board has been setting the table to bring the right commercial development to Erie.

“We’re working to make Erie appealing to commercial development,” Massarotti said. “I think we’ve gotten a lot done in the last year.”

The Board of Trustees has to set policies, such as quality standards and an orderly planning process, to meet the community’s goals, he said.

Getting the infrastructure, such as water and sewer, in place while crafting the unified development code are two of the pieces on which the board has been working. The population also has increased to a point that businesses are taking notice, Massarotti said.

Commercial development, he said, is just around the corner.

Harry Pink

Pink has lived in Erie for more than five years, but he has a history of being involved in local affairs, he said.

During his four years as trustee, Pink has served as the town’s liaison to the Denver Regional Council of Governments, the Erie Economic Development Council and the Erie Area Senior Advisory Committee.

He is seeking re-election because it is important for the business community to see political continuity in the town for commercial growth to occur, he said.

“The whole complex of the library and recreation center will define downtown,” Pink said.

The Board of Trustees will need to continue fine-tuning the UDC and continue talking with the St. Vrain Valley School District to get another elementary school, he said.

“We certainly have an opportunity to voice our needs and our concerns,” Pink said. “The Board of Trustees has a responsibility to ensure growth is synchronized with infrastructure and schools.”

The Candidates

MAYOR

Name: Andrew Moore
Age: 42
Occupation: Director, Sun Microsystems
Civic experience: Incumbent, elected mayor in 2004
Family: Married to Janice for 15 years; two children: Matthew, 10; Megan, 8

TRUSTEE CANDIDATES

Four trustee seats are open. The top three vote-getters will serve four-year terms; the fourth-place finisher will complete a two-year term.

Name: Brent Bell
Age: 45
Occupation: Self-employed, BKA Engineering LLC
Civic experience: Erie Chamber of Commerce board of directors
Family: Engaged to be married

Name: Galen Christopher
Age: 54
Occupation: Wastewater treatment plant operator, city of Boulder
Civic experience: Roche community advisory panel; Boulder Municipal Employees Credit Union supervisory committee; Silvertrees East HOA treasurer
Family: Married to Marty Garrison for 14 years; three children: Dylan, 29; Trevor, 27; Dara, 25

Name: James Feely
Age: 43
Occupation: Marketing manager, GMAC Mortgage
Civic experience: President, Grandview HOA
Family: Married to Celesta for 16 years; one daughter, Cassandra

Name: Tina Harris
Age: 32
Occupation: Sales manager, millwork company
Civic experience: Secretary, Erie Elementary School Parent/Teacher/Community Organization; member, Erie Schools Committee
Family: Married to Brad for 21/2 years; one daughter, Makayla, 9; guardian to Savannah, 19

Name: Cheryl Hauger
Age: 47
Occupation: Substitute school bus driver; previously worked as business analyst for Storage Tech
Civic experience: Volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity, schools
Family: Married to David for 22 years; stepmother to Brandy, 29; Brad, 27; Beth, 25; mother of Matt, 18

Name: Brian Hogenes Lewis
Age: 29
Occupation: Manager of a Boulder information-technology company
Civic experience: Volunteer work
Family: Married to Denise for six years

Name: Glenn Massarotti
Age: 36
Occupation: Project manager for commercial-construction contractor
Civic experience: Appointed to Board of Trustees, 2005; vice president and president of Canyon Creek South HOA; Erie Rotary
Family: Married to Shannon for six years; expecting first child in July

Name: Harry Pink
Age: 62
Occupation: Retired petroleum chemist for Exxon-Mobil
Civic experience: Elected to Board of Trustees, 2002
Family: Two adult sons

Victoria Camron can be reached at 303-684-5226, or by e-mail at vcamron@times-call.com.

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