Westminster council candidates address citizen concerns

More than 50 residents attend Candidate Forum staged by organization at Westminster Grange Hall

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/3/19

Water supply, water rate increases, growth and “righting the wrongs” of the current Westminster city council members were some of the issues raised by Westminster residents, during the annual …

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Westminster council candidates address citizen concerns

More than 50 residents attend Candidate Forum staged by organization at Westminster Grange Hall

Posted

Water supply, water rate increases, growth and “righting the wrongs” of the current Westminster city council members were some of the issues raised by Westminster residents, during the annual Candidate Forum Sept. 26, at Westminster Grange Hall, sponsored by The Heart of Westminster organization.

Gary Shea, president of The Heart of Westminster, opened the meeting and turned the floor over to members of the Westminster Public Schools Board members.

President Ryan McCoy gave a district update, and told the crowd that because of their efforts, Westminster teachers are now among the highest paid in the state.

Marge Innes, Voter Service Chair of the Adams County League of Women Voters was introduced as the guest moderator, and she informed the eight candidates of the forum guidelines. Each candidate was given three minutes to address the crowd as an introduction, after which, Innes would read a question submitted by an audience member, and each candidate had one minute to respond to the question.

Open spaces and schools

Protecting parks and open spaces, support for education and helping local business owners succeed and making sure Westminster council members govern better were some of the reasons candidates gave for running.

Candidates were hit with hard questions right out of the gate, as the first question submitted by a resident asked “The city manager states that there is not enough water for the comprehensive plan, are you concerned about that?”

Anita Seitz responded that “Westminster is a leader on this, and our plans are iterative, which means they build off each other.”

She went on to explain that the city is aware of the lack of water, and purchases water rights whenever they come available.

Michele Haney recognized that growth and water concerns were valid, and encouraged residents to “come forward and express your concerns about the comprehensive plan.”

Sheela Mahnke agreed with Seitz’s response, stating “Our water experts are the best in the country, they are looking at this and I’m confident they have pieces in place.”

Nick Dyer disagreed. “My water rates increased. I’m not convinced of a good reason for this. It’s supposed to conserve water, but we can see it’s affecting our residents. I don’t have answers about how to lower them, but it’s something I will get done.”

Rich Seymour agreed that his water rates have increased as well. “We have to find a way to make Westminster affordable.”

Lindsey Smith remarked “Water is one of our biggest challenges, and space left to build. The current council is dishonest on telling us where we are. You, the residents, need to be heard.”

Bruce Baker claimed the city had always had enough water, until the council changed the comprehensive plan.

“The council decides to change the comprehensive plan, and intend to take water from us to go into the thousand of new homes they’re jamming into the city,” Baker said.

Patricia Moore said for senior citizens, especially those in the lower part of Westminster, are being hit hard with increased water rates. “We are seniors on a strict income. Do we pay for water or do we pay for our drugs?”

Growth concerns

Candidates went on to discuss matters of growth in the city, with Mahnke telling the crowd that she didn’t believe growth in the city was “explosive,” Dyer calling for smart growth over exciting growth, and Seymour wanting to see new growth in areas like the mall.

Smith accused the current council of rubber-stamping every project that came across their desks, with Baker quoting the story of Isa from the bible.

“Isa was cheated out of his birthright. That’s what the issue of water is here. We are being cheated out of our water,” said Baker. “We’re a mature city, we should be proud of that.”

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