Centennial City Council candidate profile: Don Sheehan

Retired tech sales professional looks to give back in District 4

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Don Sheehan retired about a year ago, but he's far from finished applying his talents.

“Now that I'm retired, the biggest thing I have is time,” said Sheehan, a Centennial City Council candidate in District 4. “I have tons of time. They kind of bill the job (of councilmember) as part-time, but there's a lot of meetings and a lot of responsibilities. I have the time to be a part of that.”

He spent four decades of his career in business and looks to utilize that experience on council. Recently, Sheehan worked as a sales engineer for Oracle, a technology company.

Looking to give back in his retirement, he became a victim advocate with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, a position that makes contact with victims of crimes and explains to them the investigation and court process they may participate in.

Sheehan is also a member of the Centennial Senior Commission, which advises city council on matters affecting seniors and provides them opportunities to participate in activities and programs.

District 4 encompasses northeast Centennial, mostly in the vicinity of East Smoky Hill Road.

Here is a look at Sheehan's policy positions in his own words. Responses were lightly edited for clarity.

What's the most important thing you want to accomplish in office?

I think Centennial is a great place to live, but like everybody else in this area, we're faced with growth. So managing our way through that growth, I think that's going to be important in understanding how we maintain the city the way we like it today. 

'Smart growth' is an often-used buzzword. What does that look like to you?

There's a textbook definition: urban planning looks at an area that ends up being sort of dense in terms of residential areas, and there's transportation that's bike friendly and walkable and all that.

Centennial was put together when a lot of these areas were already created. … So are we going to have an urban area, like a smart-growth area, in Centennial? Maybe. They're talking about something like that at The Streets at SouthGlenn, and there's lot of controversy there and with The Jones district as well … It looks pretty cool. But what the impact would be on the surrounding suburban area is still an open question.

What is your approach to transportation and 'smart city' initiatives?

Arrow Electronics just opened up a lab in conjunction with Smart Cities Alliance, and to me, that is the optimal way to figure out some solutions to problems that are not just Centennial-oriented but regional.

The Smart Cities Alliance (of mostly Front Range cities) in this area, in my opinion, that's the best way to go. It's not just one city's problem — it's everybody's problem.

What is the best way to maintain retail sales tax base and attractive retail in Centennial?

I think Centennial in general has higher median income and higher education than a lot of areas, and I think because we're an appealing suburban area, we attract those ranges. We need to keep that high level of income coming in so it's profitable for retail stores to be here.

We have a Safeway out by us on Smoky Hill Road … it just sold to a developer in Colorado Springs. … They're going to redevelop that. Probably, it won't be the size of the old Safeway, but it may be multiple stores, multiple restaurants, and I think that kind of revitalization will revitalize the whole area.

What issue is city council not paying enough attention to?

I frankly think city council does a phenomenal job. They don't say, “We're not going to touch that.”

(But) I think the issue we talked about a moment ago, with what do we do with revitalization or reinvestment in retail areas, (could use more attention). Having a large store empty for a few years, you don't want to do that.

How can the city best take care of its increasingly aging population?

One of the things I think Centennial has been very proactive on is the aging population … Right now, we're working on a couple different things: Elder abuse and fraud are things that are rampant in older population. There may be some things we can do in conjunction with sheriff's department to (help that).

On aging in place, the Senior Commission already has a really nice checklist about what you need to think about and work on in your house to accomplish that. 

How can the city best address high housing costs and the regional issue of homelessness?

I think one of the things the city could do is not be restrictive in what kind of housing is built. We need housing stock for folks in all areas. Are you going to put a high rise building in middle of a suburban area? No, you're not. But I think with some thought and planning (that variety could be achieved).

On homelessness, the city recently passed a camping ban and, I think, with good reason: There aren't hygiene or sanitation areas where people are camping. As I understand it, until there was a camping ban enacted, there really wasn't any reason for someone in the sheriff's department to contact them unless something was going on. Now, that avenue is a bit more open, I think, for deputies to be able to approach people with resources.

At the other end of the spectrum, early on in my life, I was there too: You lose a job, you don't have a lot of savings, what do you do? Centennial works with the Metro Mayors Caucus … They would provide people with the first and last month's rent to move into an apartment. I think something like that would be beneficial … Having a helping hand like that outside organization is a great way to stabilize someone and have them take off.

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