Centennial City Council candidate profile: Christine Sweetland

Cherry Knolls neighborhood president urges action on affordable housing

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Most city councilmembers don’t know real estate as well as Christine Sweetland.

Her job as a certified residential appraiser — someone who assesses the value of homes — takes her all over the Denver metro area, from Brighton all the way down past Castle Rock.

And past the knowledge of the housing market, the gig also gives Sweetland perspective on what’s on residents’ minds.

“I have an opportunity to go in, to meet with people and hear what they have to say about concerns about the economy and jobs,” said Sweetland, a Centennial City Council candidate for District 2. “I drive over 15,000 miles a year. With my job, I can see what’s happening in other communities, and I can bring that back to Centennial.”

Sweetland is also president of the Cherry Knolls Improvement Association, a body that addresses that neighborhood’s needs.

District 2 includes the part of the city north of East Dry Creek Road and mostly west of South Quebec Street. It excludes the farthest west part of town.

Here is a look at Sweetland’s policy positions in her own words. Responses were lightly edited for clarity.

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

I think of Centennial as being in those teenage years, and so, my biggest goal is to focus on who we are as a city 10 years from now … I want to make sure we have opportunity and growth for everyone but maintain that suburban lifestyle that we’ve come to love … I think development is necessary, but it has to be the right kind. It needs to enhance quality of life that we currently enjoy.

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

I go into north Denver, Sloan’s Lake and all those areas — it’s overpopulated. They forgot that it was a residential neighborhood, and now you can’t even park … Each neighborhood is going to be a bit different, but we really need to understand, if we do this, how does it change what’s already there?

The Jones District, that’s great redevelopment … It was a business complex, and now it’s right by the light rail station… I’m excited to see how that pans out because I think it revitalizes the whole area. So that, to me, is smart redevelopment, forethought and planning … Just for what I’ve seen in the metro area, when they put a light rail station in, the neighborhood gets revitalized.

What is your approach to transportation and “smart city” initiatives?

If you look at Englewood, it has that great shuttle bus. Lone Tree has a great shuttle bus — I’d like to see us do something like that. With the redevelopment of Streets at SouthGlenn, if you did a shuttle bus to Arapahoe (RTD station) or even to Littleton Station, you wouldn’t have to worry about as many cars on the road.

It’s not just getting people to work — it’s getting people to shop and eat.

I think we need more bike lanes in Centennial. Colorado Boulevard, if we did something that hooked up to the C-470 bike path … we need to think about getting people out of cars.

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

I was just in a meeting and someone said, “Well, we’re just Centennial.” I think we as a city need to do a better job of promoting ourselves. We have two of the top school districts in the state … we have above-average income, above-average education levels. I think if we promote that, I think we’re showing people this is the place where people want to put their stores and retail outlets.

What issue is city council not paying enough attention to?

Affordable housing. Allowing your teachers, firefighters, police officers to live in the community in which they work. I think it’s important for our children, if they want to come back to this community, that they can afford to, (without) living in their parents’ basement.

What a lot of people forget (is) they think affordable housing is public-assisted housing. What we’re talking about is the people who are in public servant position actually being able to afford to live in the community they serve.

It could be apartments, could be condos, could be single-family homes. I think we need to have a comprehensive plan. We need to work with developers and the communities, and city council needs to reach out … get all the stakeholders in a room and talk about what this looks like.

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

Their aging-in-place programs are great … Someone in my neighborhood is in the Senior Commission, and it’s amazing all the “Active Seniors” programs they have … We just need to do a better job of getting the word out of all the assistance we offer. We always think people are going to search it on Google, but a lot of these people, that’s not how they find information. So we need to get information to them in the way in which they receive it.

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

On affordable housing, we should get developers and some planners from the city in the room, and some community members, to talk about what this looks like going forward.

On homelessness, I think that it needs to be more than the (recently passed) camping ban. We need to work with our regional sister cities to come up with a solution … We can’t just decide we’re just going move them down the street.

Littleton, Englewood and Sheridan have come together working on a commission. I wish part of the camping ban would have been (for Centennial) to be included on that so we can work on this together.

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