Election 2021: Arvada candidates stump at chamber event

Three city council seats are in play and the city has questions

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/22/21

An early morning candidate forum gave Arvada residents and members of the business community a chance to get to know the folks who want to represent them on city council. The event, hosted by the …

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Election 2021: Arvada candidates stump at chamber event

Three city council seats are in play and the city has questions

Posted

An early morning candidate forum gave Arvada residents and members of the business community a chance to get to know the folks who want to represent them on city council.

The event, hosted by the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, allowed candidates to introduce themselves and answer questions about their thoughts on governing and how to tackle the city’s most pressing needs.

Long-time Arvada resident and former council member, Mark McGoff, was looking forward to checking out the new crop of politicos.

“I wanted to be able to hear each of the candidates,” he said. “To hear what kind of leadership they’ll bring to Arvada.”

Judith Denham said she was pretty interested in what’s going to happen with the council.

“Because we’re at a point now where we need to have excellent leadership,” she said. “We’re at a pivotal point with the national situation. And I think this community is rock solid, but we need people on city council who understand what our problems are.”

At-large

First up during the introductions, Michael Griffith, licensed Landscape Architect, Urban Design and candidate for the At Large seat. Griffith said after renovating a historic house and starting a family in Arvada, he and his wife consider it their long-term home. Griffith has served on the Arvada Planning Commission since 2017.

Running for the same seat, Lisa Smith, a military veteran and social worker. Smith said years of public service and leadership experience drew her toward running for council. During her time in Arvada, she has worked with the Arvada City Charter Committee, Chamber Resiliency Taskforce and Jeffco Community Advisory Board.

District 1

Next up, District 1 candidates, Chelsea Canda and Randy Moorman.

Canda, a Littleton native, described herself as a wife and mom of four kids. She said she spent 11 years working as a teacher in charter schools, six of those years, she was a “Gifted and Talented” Coordinator at the academy where she taught. Having left teaching last year, she helps her husband run his small business.

Moorman said he was running to give back to the community that welcomed and supported his family through challenging times. He said he loves Arvada and has the passion, experience and critical thinking skills to shepherd the city through issues like infrastructure renewal, affordability and sustainability. Moorman works for a recycling nonprofit and runs a pie baking business from home.

District 3

District 3 candidates were the last to introduce themselves. John Marriott is the only current council member running in November. He’s an Arvada native who considers his formative years here to be integral to his success in life. He said he wants to continue his work on council, helping future generations achieve success through the same opportunities he was afforded by growing up here.

Suzie Schuckman, running for the seat Marriott currently holds. She said she’s been serving various nonprofits for the last 15 years combating

child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, food insecurity, homelessness. She’s also worked to reintroduce women to the workforce. She said listening, a valuable quality she employs in her work life, is something she would bring to council. Effective relationship building and service leadership are two things she thinks council could benefit from and she could provide.

During the question-and-answer period of the forum, each pair of candidates were given four different questions plus a quick-fire round designed to give a bit of insight into their personalities. Candidates had been given access to all of the questions beforehand, but were not told which four specific questions they would be asked. The questions dealt with topics like growth, equity, minimum wage and crime.

District 1 candidates, Moorman and Canda, were given the first round of questions.

Asked if Arvada should support universal minimum wage, Canda said no. She thinks it should be up to business owners to pay as they see fit. Moorman said the city should be taking a more holistic approach. He said it’s important that people make a livable wage to be able to afford to reside in communities like Arvada, where they work and provide critical services.

Candidates were then asked about a variety of topics, including crime, equity, their dream vacation destination and role models.

Canda took a pro-police stance saying more police are needed to replace those who’ve left the profession because of a national move to defame them. She thinks equity issues are not the government’s responsibility, saying such matters “tend to take care of themselves.” Her role model is Jesus and dream vacation destination would be Pensacola, Florida.

Moorman said he thinks the City has an important role in equity and inclusion in making Arvada a welcoming place for everyone. He said equitable access to services and opportunity are things he would work for. On crime and safety, Moorman said they need to be taken seriously, with an eye toward addressing underlying issues like mental illness that can be contributing factors. His role model is Jane Goodall and vacation destination would be the Galápagos Islands.

At Large candidates, Smith and Griffith, took the stage next, and were asked what they would do to better understand “the diverse and growing needs of Arvada.”

“There are many different types of residences, experiences and small business communities within Arvada, and I would champion the continuation of those small-business ecosystems in special, unique areas of the city,” Griffith said.

Smith said one thing she prides herself on is having a diverse network of connections in the city as part of groups including the American Legion, Elks Lodge and Kiwanis. She said relying on data and continuing to conduct outreach and listening tours once elected, would keep her in touch with the city’s issues and allow her to understand different viewpoints.

In the rapid-fire round, Griffith said growing up he wanted to be an architect, his biggest pet-peeve is standing in line, and his role model was his dad. Smith’s role model was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, vacation destination would be Egypt and growing up she wanted to be a cop.

The final pair to answer questions was District 3 candidates, Marriott and Schuckman. 

One of their questions was what they consider to be the biggest challenge facing Arvada, and what they would do to remedy it.

Marriott answered first, saying core infrastructure and maintenance needs are the biggest challenge the city faces. He said implementing programmatic changes today will yield big results 50 years from now. He said core infrastructure is why cities exist and fulfilling that responsibility is the council’s number one job.

Referencing the recent hazy skies and hazardous air, Schuckman’s take on the question is that climate change and sustainability are the biggest challenge the city faces. 

“I want to make sure my kids have parks and green spaces and trails to hike on for as long as they wish to,” she said. “I would advocate for increasing the resident capacity on our sustainability advisory committee as well as bringing someone on staff for the city to focus solely on sustainability issues and how we can be good stewards of the environment.”

In the rapid-fire round, Marriott said his favorite Arvada restaurant is the Arvada Tavern, dream job as a boy was playing quarterback for the Denver Broncos and his biggest pet peeve is potholes. Schuckman’s pet peeve is wet socks, role model is Dolores Huerta and favorite dessert is carrot cake.

Elections for Arvada City Council will be held Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.

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