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Mark Gotto, who has lived in Centennial for close to 10 years, is the city councilmember from District 3 nearing the end of his first term. He chose not to run for re-election. Gotto is a consultant for call-center operations and a former member of the Centennial Council of Neighborhoods (CenCON) for Homestead Farm II, the neighborhood where he lives. Here, he looks back on his tenure on the Centennial City Council. The new city council will begin Jan. 8, with new members sworn in that day.
What do you feel is your best accomplishment in your time on city council?
I am proud of being a part of the East Arapahoe Road widening from South Waco Street to South Himalaya Way. I receive calls from citizens, daily, thanking me for expanding the lanes. Also, leaving the city debt-free with a healthy fund balance is something all councilmembers can be proud of. A major accomplishment (was) when council approved an additional $3 million for road improvements and an additional $1 million for snow removal.
It takes a detailed process to take a citizen's suggestion and make it policy. Using that process, I was able to make Centennial part of LiveWell Colorado's HEAL Cities initiative ... ensure speed limits were accurate and fair, and fund additional safety officers in our schools.
What's a story about a citizen you met or interacted with that touched you? Anything that stuck with you?
The neighborhood shooting that happened in Centennial in April 2016 had a major impact on me. Centennial citizen Dr. Kenneth Atkinson gave his life to protect his neighbors from another neighbor shooting at them. Since then, I have gotten to know his wife, Jeanne, and their daughters. You could not find a more generous and brave family. The night council honored Atkinson with the Carnegie Medal of honor, I shared a few words about how valuable the Atkinson family is to our community and that they are an example to all citizens. The sheriff's words on how this was the single most brave action he has ever seen by a citizen will stick with me forever.
What did you learn about your city during your tenure that you might not have known before?
An eye-opening experience was learning how much infrastructure costs! The cost of road construction, bridges, maintaining parks, stop lights, sidewalks, snow removal (and so on) are huge expenses. I encourage all citizens to attend budget meetings and their district meetings simply to learn what it costs to maintain a strong city infrastructure.
What was your most challenging moment on council? What do you think is the biggest upcoming challenge for the next council?
The most challenging moments are when you have a land-use case in which you are weighing the property rights of a developer with the concerns of surrounding neighbors. It was very challenging voting in favor of something citizens did not support. Disappointing constituents with decisions you felt were best for the city is the most difficult part of this position.
Affordable housing is going to be a challenge the next council faces in the next few years. Coming up with creative ideas on how policy combined with working with developers can help solve this issue will be key. The obvious challenge for any city right now is traffic congestion. I do feel Centennial is most prepared for future traffic with their investment in smart technologies to make it more efficient to move throughout the city.
What would you like to say to your constituents?
It was an honor serving District 3 and the City of Centennial. By electing me, you handed me a huge responsibility to take care of your tax dollars, to make educated and informed decisions, and to follow up on your concerns. I did that with the very best of my ability. You deserve the very best from your elected officials because you are the very best of people and neighbors. My decision not to run for office again was based solely on timing. My young kids are now in school full-time, and it is time for a career change. The experience I gained through being a councilmember will forever make me a better person, so thank you.
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