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Charles “C.J.” Whelan served four years as a Centennial city councilmember from District 4, elected in 2013 and concluding his term on Jan. 8. Whelan, a telecommunications entrepreneur and business owner, has lived in what's now Centennial for more than 30 years. He ran unsuccessfully to be Centennial's mayor Nov. 7 and thus was not able to run for re-election in his council seat. He's a former mayor pro tem and former president of the Cunningham Fire Protection District.
Here are his reflections on his time on the Centennial City Council.
What do you feel is your best accomplishment in your time on city council?
I am proud of my efforts in redoing our logo with the Branding Committee, founding the "Medians" Committee and working to finally see the widening of East Quincy Avenue — but by far and away, I know that my most lasting accomplishment will be my work chairing the Centennial FiberWorks Commission. The fiber-optic network we are installing is infrastructure that will positively change the dynamics of our city for decades to come.
What's a story about a citizen you met or interacted with that touched you?
Too many to count. What has always been most satisfying is when a constituent contacts you extremely angry about some problem, and you're able to see a positive outcome to it. I remember one district meeting where a couple in District 4 give me a real earful about how bad the roads in their neighborhood were. I connected to them to our public works department, and sure enough, there was work that was overdue, and in a relatively short period of time, we were able to significantly improve the situation.
What did you learn about your city during your tenure that you might not have known before?
The “Centennial way” of doing things really is unique in municipal government, and it is better, much better.
What was your most challenging moment? What do you think is the biggest upcoming challenge for the next council?
The initiative in 2016 into 2017 to repeal the changes that city council attempted to enact for design standards along East Arapahoe Road. Council and staff put an enormous amount of time into that effort over many years involving a lot of constituencies, and I still firmly believe what we attempted to enact was clearly in the best interests of Centennial. However, a great deal of misinformation undid it all. We are sadly in a time where trust in government is nearly nonexistent, and disinformation can often rule the day. What to ultimately do with the Arapahoe Road corridor is still a major challenge facing our city.
What would you like to say to your constituents?
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to represent you. It has been a privilege and an honor. I know it can be difficult to keep up with all that city council does, and much of it can be esoteric. However, local government touches our lives every day, and the only way to keep Centennial great is to pay attention to it, stay involved and hold leaders accountable. Hope to still see you around!
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