Q&A with former Centennial City Councilmember Carrie Penaloza

District 2 member caps off four years representing western portion of city

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Carrie Penaloza has lived in Centennial for 15 years and has said her family initially moved to Centennial because of its neighborhoods and schools.

In turn, she ended up becoming a fixture in the community, too, and she ended her four-year tenure on the Centennial City Council last month.

The attorney and municipal prosecutor was the city councilmember for District 2, which includes the part of the Centennial north of East Dry Creek Road and mostly west of South Quebec Street. It excludes the farthest west part of town.

While on council, Penaloza also served on the city’s budget and audit committees, the Southeast Metro Stormwater Authority board, and the National League of Cities’ Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee.

She also served on the committee for Centennial NEXT — that’s the city’s comprehensive plan, a document that lays out a vision for how a city should develop. In 2019, Penaloza held the position of mayor pro tem, the city councilmember who serves as mayor when the mayor is unable.

Here are her reflections on her tenure.

What’s a story about a citizen that stuck with you?

I came to know a resident of District 2, Rod Brown, who has a passion for projects that will improve the city such as safer streets, improved sidewalks and even a tot park. He is unfailingly polite but also extremely persistent. Rod does his homework, and his approach is very effective. Residents that love our city and work so hard behind the scenes to make things better inspire me.

What do you feel is your best accomplishment on council?

Even before I got elected, I felt passionate about making the city more walkable. By that I mean adding sidewalks in areas that simply don’t have them, improving existing sidewalks and connecting them to create cohesive and useful paths. The city’s annual budget for sidewalks was $75,000 in 2016, and we’ve now dedicated more than $1 million in 2020 to sidewalk projects. I will be thrilled when the sidewalk project on the south side of Orchard Road is completed in 2020.

What was your most challenging moment on council?

On a number of occasions, I was the only “no” vote on an issue. I aimed to be a team player and respectful to my fellow councilmembers, but I also knew I had to vote my conscience and always consider the viewpoints of the residents I represented.

What do you think is the biggest upcoming challenge for council?

Managing the tension between the changes that are necessary to keep Centennial thriving in the future with residents’ desire to keep the character of Centennial they love and chose to move here to experience. Specifically, the issue of increased residential density. And I can’t leave out always keeping an eye on the budget. 

What would you like to say to your constituents?

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you for the last four years. It was a true honor.

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