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Centennial's northeastern region, District 4, is set to be represented on city council by either a former eight-year councilmember, a former District 4 candidate from November's municipal election or a Piney Creek community leader.
The initial field of nine applicants to fill the vacant seat on council saw a narrowing down at a Jan. 22 special meeting, where city council selected the three front-runners to be interviewed in another public special meeting on Feb. 7 to help choose who will be appointed.
“I was impressed with the number and quality of candidates that applied for the District 4 vacancy,” said Mayor Stephanie Piko, whose election to the mayoral seat left one of two District 4 seats open. Councilmember Marlo Alston, who won a razor-thin election race after a recount in November, holds the other seat. Each of Cententennial's four districts has two seats on the nine-member council, which includes the mayor.
Council has also discussed the possibility of having another round of interviews or having a meet-and-greet event with the three front-running applicants, said Allison Wittern, spokeswoman for the city. The councilmembers had the choice of holding a special election or appointing the new member themselves. They opted for the latter, partly to avoid the cost and partly to have a full nine members seated without waiting what would likely be multiple months.
“Council has worked diligently to create an open and fair process for” filling the vacancy, Piko said. “I look forward to the interviews on Feb. 7.”
The top three picks include Ron Weidmann, a former councilmember who served District 4 from 2006-14. Weidmann has been involved with a laundry list of boards, governmental districts and community organizations, including the Southeast Metro Stormwater Authority, the Centennial Land Use Committee, Arapahoe Park and Recreation District, the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce Legislative Action Committee and the Smoky Hill Homeowners Association. He's retired, and he last worked as a commercial security and disaster planner in the commercial and federal sectors, according to his application for the vacancy spot.
Citizens will see a familiar name in John Miquel, another front-runner, who ran against Alston in the District 4 election Nov. 7. He is the small-business owner of and attorney at the Law Firm of John F. Miquel. He was previously a manager and corporate trainer in the hospitality industry. Miquel completed Centennial 101, a seven-week program that teaches residents how the city government works, in 2016 and has attended most council meetings and budget workshops since then, according to his application for the vacancy spot.
Sarah Whitely serves the Piney Creek neighborhood as president of the Piney Creek Community League, which provides activities and events to residents. Whitely has worked in sales and marketing in the radio-advertising industry, and she's self-employed as a real-estate broker. She led the young-professionals fundraising arm of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Indiana for multiple years, according to her application for the vacancy spot. That foundation is a nonprofit that works to search for a cure for the disease.
Responding to changing planning and zoning issues as the city grows, continuing to lead on technology and innovative city programs, and reaching a new generation of constituents are the top three issues Whitely identified for the city.
“When Centennial was founded, there was a clear understanding of why (people) incorporated and what the citizens wanted from their newly formed government,” Whitely said in her application. “Today, we have become a hot spot for young families and a bit of a transition city. I believe that what matters to them might be different, and we need to be sure we are addressing new concerns.”
For Miquel, the top three issues are traffic, updating the city's aging commercial developments and ensuring sustainable expansion in service and retail, and preserving neighborhoods and open space amid development.
The city should deal “with traffic congestion by implementing a modern transportation plan, working with partners in the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) as well as neighboring jurisdictions to allow our citizens to travel safely and efficiently throughout the city and beyond,” Miquel said in his application.
Weidmann, in his application, pointed to citizen safety, maintaining roads in “the best condition possible,” inviting annexation where possible to enhance city services and “staying the course” with the city's fiber-optic cable infrastructure as the most important priorities for Centennial.
The other six applicants who did not make the interview round, according to Wittern, are Charlette Fleming — Alston's other opponent in last year's municipal elections — and Jeffrey Turner, Samantha Roe, Lisa Van Bramer, Elizabeth Ybarra and Ray Wendell.
There is still no firm timetable for when the city will swear in the new councilmember.
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