City council set for influx of newcomers

District 2 incumbent unseated; Alston ahead in neck-and-neck race for District 4 seat

Posted 11/14/17

Come January, Centennial City Council will have three newcomers, but in the days following the Nov. 7 election, it was only known who two of those new members will be.

That's because the District 4 race among Marlo Alston, Charlette Fleming and …

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City council set for influx of newcomers

District 2 incumbent unseated; Alston ahead in neck-and-neck race for District 4 seat

Posted

Come January, Centennial City Council will have three newcomers, but in the days following the Nov. 7 election, it was only known who two of those new members will be.

That's because the District 4 race among Marlo Alston, Charlette Fleming and John Miquel was still too close to call, with fewer than 20 votes separating Alston and Fleming.

The council will lose incumbent C.J. Whelan, who chose to run for mayor instead of seeking re-election on council, and incumbent Doris Truhlar, who lost in District 2. District 4. Councilmember Stephanie Piko defeated Whelan in the mayor's race, and will become the third mayor in the city's history.

All new elected officials in Centennial will be sworn in at the city council meeting on Jan. 8.

Time will tell who will be among them in District 4 — Alston stayed ahead of Fleming by about 0.3 percent, or 16 votes, as of results on Nov. 9.

Alston said she "absolutely" claimed the victory, though, adding that she was confident in the win over Fleming and Miquel, who was only 105 votes behind Fleming with 4,789 total votes cast in the race.

"I’m expecting it to hold," Alston said. "I know the district pretty well, and the likelihood they would shift (against me) — I’m not expecting that."

Fleming still was feeling good about the race, though.

"I did not think it would be this close," said Fleming, who said she's looking forward to serving.

Like most candidates across the board in the Centennial election races, District 4's candidates didn't appear to differ much on the issues — all three were for some concept of "smart growth." And Alston and Fleming both encouraged spurring opportunities for businesses while also nodding to the priorities of neighborhoods.

Fleming said she wants to establish a shuttle service among Centennial's top employers to allow employees to park in a designated area in the city and be transported from there to their jobs. That would ease traffic congestion and take cars off the road, she said. She also wanted to establish incubators for entreprenuers and companies trying to start up. More multi-use developments where people can "work, live, play and thrive" is the right way for the city to grow, she said.

Alston said she would look at the current council's direction to determine the best way to grow. She wants to bring more businesses and restaurants to District 4 but said she'd have to look at what the processes are for incentivizing that and refer to past councilmembers.

"But I definitely do know that I want any business coming into Centennial to have the best interests of our city and their employees in mind," Alston said.

The city should work with neighboring Aurora and the Cornerstar shopping center at East Arapahoe Road and South Parker Road — which is part of Aurora though partially surrounded by Centennial — to ease traffic congestion, she said.

The small margin between Alston and Fleming wouldn't warrant a recount unless it got even smaller — by law, a recount would be held only if the difference between their votes was less than or equal to one-half of 1 percent of the leaders's vote count. That means that if the difference was equal to or less than about 8.2 votes — that's 0.5 percent of Alston's count of 1,642 votes — a recount would be triggered.

Ballots that remained to be processed included those sent by military and overseas voters, ballots with signature discrepancies or missing signatures, and ballots from voters who were required to provided identification with their mail ballots but failed to do so. The Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder's Office continued to receive all of those types of ballots through Nov. 15, according to Haley McKean, spokeswoman for the office.Ballots that were dropped off at boxes in other counties by 7 p.m. on Election Day were retreived by the Arapahoe County office on Nov. 8, McKean said.

A recount would only occur after the county certifies the election results, which by law must happen by Nov. 24 and would likely happen Nov. 21, McKean said.

Fleming is a senior accounting consultant for AxxessConnect, a telecommunications and information technology service provider. She touted her experience in finance and accounting as a reason she'd come prepared to council.

Alston is a “military wife” and mother of military veterans. She works in workers' compensation claims management. She has sat on the city's Open Space Advisory Board and was a homeowners association vice president and board member. She has held several positions in the Aurora NAACP.

Transportation, infrastructure expertises

In the race for District 2's open council seat, Tamara Hunter-Maurer took the win handily over incumbent Doris Truhlar, Nancy Nickless and Bennett Rutledge. She's looking to bring her know-how as an engineer with the Colorado Department of Transportation, or CDOT, to tackle transportation matters in the city.

"Transportation is one of my big things beause I deal with that every day," said Hunter-Maurer, who has lived in what's now Centennial for 34 years. "Looking at bicycles and pedestrian movement — those are things people care about."

Hunter-Maurer would like to work with neighboring cities like Greenwood Village and Littleton, as well as CDOT, to manage transportation matters related to roadways, bicycle paths and trails. On development, the city should cultivate businesses that will support its growing number of senior citizens and young families, she said.

The budget will be the biggest challenge ahead, Hunter-Maurer said, if the city wants to do more work on roads and other infrastructure.

"The city has done an incredible job at maintaining its services within budget ... but if you want to do more improvements, you're looking at where (to get) that funding," Hunter-Maurer said.

Hunter-Maurer is a professional engineer with a focus on transportation, roads and construction. She has served on CenCON, the Centennial Council of Neighborhoods, as a second vice president, and as president of the Ridgeview Hills North Civic Association.

Soon-to-be Mayor Piko will bring her experience as vice-chair of the city's Fiber Commission, which oversees Centennial's effort to create a fiber-optic cable backbone to boost the city's internet capabilities.

That project will enable the city to time its traffic lights more accurately to traffic flows by enhancing its system of traffic cameras and sensors. Better internet capabilities will open the door to other improved city operations, too — police, firefighters and medical responders would also benefit from getting real-time updates about traffic and accidents.

State Sen. Jack Tate, who represents a district that includes Centennial, was pleased with Piko's election.

"I'm just very glad Mayor-elect Piko will be in office for the next four years leading Centennial in a positive direction," said Tate, a Republican. Rich Sokol, chair of the Arapahoe County Republican Party, also attended the gathering.

Piko is a substitute teacher for the Cherry Creek School District and an office manager and information-technology support for Intelinet Imaging, a teleradiology service provider. She sat on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission from 2008-11 and chaired the Open Space Advisory Board from 2007-11. She's the current mayor pro tem and is in her second term on city council.

Outgoing incumbents look back

Doris Truhlar, incumbent in District 2, said it was hard to lose, but she hopes Hunter-Maurer will serve the area well.

“I loved serving on city council — it's one of the best things I ever did,” Truhlar said. “It's a big disappointment for me.”

Truhlar said she's proud of the efforts on council she was involved in, which included nearly doubling the budget that pertains to streets and sidewalks, she said.

C.J. Whelan, current District 4 councilmember, lost his mayoral bid against Piko but was thankful for the support he got.

"We did what we could, and a great deal of thanks goes to everyone who supported me," Whelan said. "I thanked (Stephanie) for (what) I thought was a campaign the way it should be, especially in this day and age."

Whelan said he heard from a lot of people there was "not a lot" that distinguished him and his opponent.

"Which I took as a good sign because it showed we were both dedicated to the city," Whelan said. "I just felt that some of my background in the business world and projects I supported on council would have done it."

Meanwhile, in District 1, incumbent Kathy Turley will hold her seat. Turley is a retired sales executive from Kaiser Permanente and worked there for almost 20 years. Turley has been a city councilmember for District 1 for four years.

In District 3, Mike Sutherland also ran unopposed, and he will replace Mark Gotto, who chose not to run for re-election. Sutherland is an attorney who has practiced law in the private and public sectors in Colorado since 1984, and he's currently the benefits counsel for the Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado.

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