Centennial City Council candidate profile: Richard Holt

District 3 hopeful touts longtime tech background

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Richard Holt has done pretty much everything in the tech industry except coding.

“I’ve been in tech in one way, shape or form for about 25 years now,” said Holt, a candidate for Centennial City Council in District 3. “As a trainer, project manager, program manager — right now, I’m a business analyst.”

What sets him apart from other candidates is his technology know-how and “at least having a toehold in what’s going on,” Holt said. The city’s underground infrastructure of fiber-optic cable — which allows access to faster internet speeds — is one example of what Holt’s background helps him grasp.

Holt serves on the city’s Open Space Advisory Board and is a graduate of Centennial 101, a seven-week program that explains how the city government functions. He is a former member of the Foxridge neighborhood’s improvement association.

Holt works as a digital media analyst for a company that edits, distributes and helps produce advertisements that play in movie theaters nationwide.

District 3 is by far the city’s largest in terms of land area, spanning from parts of southwest Centennial to the city’s southeast region, past South Parker Road.

Here is a look at Holt’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?

To keep Centennial running as lean as possible. Lean is kind of an IT (information technology) term, but it’s also a philosophy to get as much value as possible out of taxpayer dollars. Centennial does a phenomenal job on running lean, contracting a large amount of its services.  

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

One is leveraging the technology that we have currently and also, in the future, to incorporate it into this program: this big thing known as growth. If we can’t leverage tech in growth, it’s not necessarily smart growth; it’s just growth. We have the three rings of fiber, 50 miles of delicious fiber, that the city was smart enough to build. What do we do with it?

Smart growth is also about the listening aspect. You have these proposals, large and small, from developers … saying we want to do this, and there doesn’t seem to be much opposition … so it gets fairly easily approved. But with the larger ones, there’s opposition, and rightfully so. I think smart growth is getting these groups together, really listening, asking the correct questions, to try to come up with a win-win solution that’ll help both sides.

What is your approach to transportation and ‘smart city’ initiatives?

For now, the bedrock is those rings of fiber. We have (internet provider) Ting coming in to provide the “last mile,” to offer the gigabit speeds of internet. But you’re still going to have untapped potential in these things. There’s an initiative right now between Greenwood Village, Lone Tree and Centennial (to make traffic lights adaptive to traffic flows). Let’s monitor it and see if it actually helps. Anything we can do to alleviate traffic using tech.

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

It all goes down to attracting innovating businesses that people will actually want to go to. A big example is Topgolf: It’s something different, it’s experiential. Not necessarily retail goods you can get on Amazon — you’re selling the experience.

Mom-and-pop small businesses coming into town to offer experiences and smaller dine-ins — not the chains — we’ll do whatever we can to help you succeed … Fiscal responsibility is at my base. It’s not like, “Oh my gosh we’re going to pay for your lease or give tax breaks,” but whatever we can do to incentivize.

What issue is city council not paying enough attention to?

There really isn’t anything that they’re not looking at … This is in no way a knock on city council, but an issue I think will be of greater importance in coming year is the issue of homelessness. You have a burgeoning homeless population from Denver and its natural migration to the suburbs. I do know a few councilmembers are reaching out to different municipalities; it’s something that’s on the radar and is getting closer.

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

This is near and dear to my heart because my in-laws are here much of the year. Trying to have the seniors stay in Centennial and age in place ... There’s only so much city can do. We can’t do everything, but there are zoning laws that may help. Also, it’s working between the city, county, the homeowners associations and also the special districts as well.

If you build accessory dwelling units, ADUs, on your property for seniors, what about electricity, water and sewer? How does the infrastructure handle that? That’s where we need to work with our special districts that handle utilities.

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

It’s difficult for the city to go against market forces. I moved from southern California 30 years ago, partly because single-family homes weren’t affordable. Unfortunately, for some millennials today, a single-family home in Centennial may be out of reach. If the state’s liability laws were changed to motivate developers to focus on developing condos and townhomes instead of apartments, then actual ownership will be more in reach.

On homelessness, I think understanding the problem is huge and also working with other municipalities. You can’t paint the homeless with a broad brush. There are many reasons behind it … We need to work with Denver, too, because they’ve been working the issue longer than we have. It’s going to take a lot of discussion, a lot of listening, a lot of learning, putting together a plan of action and putting it in place … these are people too, and you can’t just brush them aside.

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