Centennial's nine candidates for city council and two mayoral candidates answered questions at a forum hosted by the Centennial Council of Neighborhoods, sounding off on issues including growth, traffic and business development.
“I don't …
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“I don't believe the city needs to raise taxes,” said C.J. Whelan, mayoral candidate, at the Sept. 25 event. “Our budget is healthy — we're getting a lot done.”
Whelan, a councilmember from the northeastern District 4, said the shifting retail environment due to internet sales is an issue the city needs to pay attention to and that it's “eroding the tax base” of local governments in the area.
Mike Sutherland, an unopposed candidate from the middle-south District 3, said there's a lot the government is better suited than businesses to do, like building roads, bridges and Centennial's internet-boosting fiber-optic cable system, but he doesn't recommend raising taxes.
Marlo Alston, a candidate in District 4, said she'd be interested in attempting to bring in more sales tax by bringing in new small businesses.
Stephanie Piko, Whelan's opponent for mayor and the current mayor pro tem on city council, also said retail sales tax loss should be monitored.
“If we need to (help unique businesses) that get people away from their computers ... so that people will still interact outside and still spend money, (we can address the problem),” said Piko, who added that attracting customers from outside the city is also key.
Being “conservative is better than spending unwisely, and I haven't seen any of that (in the city), so I wouldn't even think of raising taxes,” said Kathy Turley, a current councilmember from the western District 1 running for re-election unopposed.
None of the 11 candidates came up with any reason to raise taxes, which drew laughter among them as they went on. The candidates appeared to subscribe to the idea of raising more tax revenue by attracting more new businesses to Centennial. An audience member asked how they would incentivize entrepreneurs from the younger generation.
“There are some incentives for larger businesses to come in and operate in Centennial,” said Bennett Rutledge, candidate from the west-central District 2. “I'm not so sure they're friendly to the mom and pop operations, though.”
Rutledge said regulations on citizens working out of their homes should be relaxed.
Sutherland suggested the city could partner more with the Innovation Pavillion, a business incubator in the south part of Centennial that provides office space to start-up efforts. Charlette Fleming, a District 4 candidate, echoed that idea.
John Miquel, also a District 4 candidate, said spreading the information that Centennial offers fiber-backed internet capabilities will keep bringing in innovative businesses.
Doris Truhlar, incumbent running for re-election in District 2, emphasized her experience on council in arguing for citizens' votes. Alston touted her spot on the city's Open Space Advisory Board, while Fleming touted her experience in finance and accounting as a reason “I'd come prepared” to council.
Miquel said he's “slogging through budget workshops” and doing his “homework” to be prepared to serve on council.
Tamara Hunter-Maurer, a District 2 candidate, noted her membership in CenCON, the council of neighborhoods. Nancy Nickless, another from District 2 who has done finance and accounting work, said she would bring integrity, ethics, budgetary experience and “no preconceived notions or political agendas” to council.
Rutledge was perhaps the only candidate to go off the path of well-tread concepts to talk about personal freedoms — he noted again his opinion that the city should better allow people to be productive “in their own garages (and) basements” — and said his theme is “lighten up.” His campaign pamphlet said the city should let people “be” more and should undo ordinances that get in the way. He favored “wisdom, love and beauty that does not necessarily conform to the ideas” of Centennial's city council, he said.
Election Day is Nov. 7 for the nonpartisan council and mayoral races.
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