Divisions appear as Westminster candidates meet

Breakfast forum introduces would-be councilors


The race to fill three opening seats on the Westminster City Council hadn’t even officially started Aug. 25 and already the differences between the candidates were becoming clear.

Eight of the ten registered candidates seeking a council position sat for a short breakfast forum Aug. 25 at the Grill at Walnut Creek Golf Preserve sponsored by the Jeff-West Community Forum.

Each candidate only had four chances to speak — an introduction, two moderated questions and a chance to sum up — but the differences between the candidates varied between those who favor using government to make Westminster better and those who favor getting government out of the way of residents and business.

“If we let the market take over and run wild, we will end up as a ski town,” said candidate Jackson Dreiling. “Westminster is not a ski town. It’s a place for everybody, and I think there is a way we can go about that is intentional about providing opportunities.”

When it comes to promoting affordable housing, Dreiling suggested creating a developer fee that would go to building less expensive units.

Carpenter said that’s a mistake.

“If we start taxing for a fund or subsidized housing, that will just exacerbate the problem of housing affordability,” said candidate David Carpenter.

Carpenter recommended relaxing some housing codes, fees and other things that might encumber developers.

“Sprinklers add $25,000 per house,” Carpenter said. “Our electric code adds another 25 percent on top of that. We need to have an honest conversation about that, and we are not having that right now.”

Carpenter was also critical of other city efforts, including the Inclusivity Board and efforts to improve mobility.

Clark said open space and parking requirements can be difficult for developers.

“Not everybody wants open space to drive bikes,” Clark said. “Some of us seniors want more accessibility, so need to make sure parking is good and not like it is in Denver.”

All of Westminster’s City Council seats are elected by the entire city, at large, and three of the six seats have terms that expire this year.

Westminster’s candidates had until Aug. 28 to collect signatures on nomination petitions, guaranteeing a spot on the Nov. 7 municipal ballot. According to the City Clerk’s office, ten residents were passing petitions — Dreiling and Carpenter and Mark Clark, David DeMott, Kathryn Skulley, Lindsey Smith, John Stephens and incumbent councilor Emma Pinter all attended the breakfast forum. Registered candidates Tyler Anderson and Devan Hayes did not.

Differences and endorsements

Stephens was the first one to speak, taking the opportunity to immediately resign from the race, throwing his endorsement to three would-be opponents — Dreiling, Skulley and Pinter.

“For the first time since I’ve lived back in Westminster, there are three candidates on the ballot I want to vote for,” Stephens said.

Carpenter, at the other end of the table, didn’t bow out the race but he too endorsed two of his fellow candidates, Demott and Clark.

“Dave Demott really does show up everywhere,” Carpenter said. “Everyone thinks he’s already on council because he’s there so much. And really, it would be better right now if he were on council, but we have the opportunity to remedy that now.”

A second forum, for the candidates seeking the mayor’s seat, is scheduled for Sept. 22. The three candidates for that seat are seeking signatures for their nomination petitions as well.

Incumbent Mayor Herb Atchison has registered with the city saying he will try for a second term in the seat and have City Councilor Bruce Baker and Richard Seymour have as well.

The Jeff-West group is a monthly forum that discusses topics that matter to residents of Westminster and Jefferson County. It meets on the fourth Friday of every month and is open to the public. Meals are available for purchase.

Voters can get mail in ballots towards the end of October but Election Day, the last day to cast ballots, is Nov. 7.

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