Businessman Greg Schoenfeld says he has personal reasons for running for mayor of Centennial.
“I used to have a store at Southglenn Mall,” he said. “I was asked to leave for the new construction project. I was never contacted about being able to move back.”
Schoenfeld’s PC LAN’d store specializing in computer repair and troubleshooting had been located in the mall for three years. The entrepreneur felt let down by the city when he was not part of the burgeoning $310 million Streets at Southglenn development that officially opened last month on the site of the former mall.
He says his calls to Alberta Development Partners, which built and owns the development, were never returned and he has been no more impressed by the actions of city officials.
The city council has been one of the greatest supporters of Streets at Southglenn, which is expected to provide a major sales-tax boost for Centennial. The council created two government entities to help facilitate the project — a special on-site taxing district and a redevelopment authority empowered to exercise eminent domain.
“I’d been in the community with my store for over 19 years so I was a little bit disappointed with my city leaders,” Schoenfeld said. “I feel like I was very disrespected. After having to move out of Southglenn Mall with very little notice, it’s dramatically affected my business.”
According to the mayoral candidate, he has talked to any number of other Centennial residents who have felt equally disenfranchised by the leadership of the 8-year-old city. He says battles over the 2001 incorporation and home rule have further resulted in a city divided.
“It’s a city I want to bring back together,” he said. “Maybe the residents should vote on whether they want to impose some of these ordinances and rules instead of it being dictated by the city government. I’d like to see some changes so the residents have as much say as possible.”
Schoenfeld, 49, is facing an uphill battle in his quest. He is one of two lesser-known candidates seeking to replace Mayor Randy Pye, the city’s term-limited founder who will step down in January. Retiree Mike Weber is the other dark-horse hopeful.
They are challenging another set of candidates who are far more entrenched in city government — District 4 City Councilmember Todd Miller and Cathy Noon, former chair of the Centennial Charter Commission.
Schoenfeld is unfazed by his competition as he ventures into his arguably long-shot bid to become the city’s second elected leader. He thinks Miller and Noon should be more worried about their associations with the status quo.
“There’s a lot of people who are not happy with the present administration,” he said. “A lot of people don’t feel Mayor Pye has kept his promises about keeping the city small.”
The candidate opposed much of what Pye and other city leaders have made benchmarks of their political careers, including most notably, the move to home rule last year and the 2001 incorporation that created the city in the first place.
“I try to see the benefit of going to home rule and of the city becoming a city and I don’t see it clearly — other than having to pay more taxes,” he said.
The voter-approved home-rule charter codified the city government structure with some alterations and granted the city government greater autonomy under the Colorado Constitution.
Schoenfeld says he sought the mayor’s office instead of a District 1 council seat to enhance his ability to make substantive change.
Originally from Texas, Schoenfeld first came to present-day Centennial as a child in 1973. Although he has lived in places ranging from Anchorage to Aruba, he has frequently returned to Centennial to make it his home. His stepson and mother still live in the area.
The candidate holds a master’s in business administration and a bachelor’s degree from Western State College in Gunnison. He began his career as a financial analyst and computer coordinator for PACE Membership Warehouse in Denver.
Schoenfeld’s computer-services support career continued with various firms until he founded PC LAN’d in 1990. At its peak, the store had three locations.
The licensed pilot spent much of 2007 as caretaker to his terminally ill father.
Schoenfeld plans to raise some funds for his low-budget campaign, which will he says will include a lot of walking neighborhoods and standing on street corners.
He will emphasize his business career as a template for how he would conduct himself as mayor.
“I deal with problems every day in my business,” he said. “That’s what I do. I try to figure out exactly what the problem is, do research and try to come up with a good resolution. I have no ulterior motives. I have no political ties. I believe the city needs to do what the people want.”
Mail-in ballots will be sent to registered voters in October. Election Day is Nov. 3.