Ryan Hitchler — 2023 Superior Home Rule Charter Commission Candidate Questionnaire


Tell us a little bit about your personal and/or professional background and why it makes you a good fit for the commission (I.e., how long have you lived in Superior? Do you work there?, etc.). 

I’m a technology leader and entrepreneur who has lived in the Boulder Valley region since 2020. My wife and two children have been in Superior since 2012: Rock Creek for five years, Sagamore for 1, and Downtown Superior since 2018. I co-led a successful petition run in 2022 that resulted in the board unanimously overturning the massive HLS campus proposal in Downtown Superior. Superior is currently a statutory city and governed under the state of Colorado rules. The petition rules are archaic, difficult to understand and follow, and must be updated. I want to be part of the Home Rule Commission to make citizen-led efforts clearer and easier to understand, but that’s one of many reasons to go Home Rule!

Why do you want to serve on the commission?

My primary motivation is making citizen-led efforts like petitions against unpopular ordinances easier to conduct and scaled appropriately for our small town. Citizens of Superior should have better and more straightforward ways to hold elected officials to the people’s will when they get it wrong. Through that effort, it was clear that nearby towns like Louisville, which are home rule, have designed their charter to fit the needs of their city over the state rules. Understanding home rule versus statutory opened up a broader view that we are a growing town, and it is well past the time to adopt our charter. 84% of municipalities with populations greater than 10,000 are home rule. I’m ready to take a pragmatic, citizen-voiced approach to the charter as I did with the petition effort in 2022. 

Why do you think a home rule charter is right for Superior?

Home rule is right for Superior now for many reasons. We may be 20 years overdue for it, but I understand the reasons why there wasn’t enough energy to push it through back then. For example, in 2018, land developers wanted to put oil and gas drilling within our small town’s 4-mile border and need more recourse to prevent this. If you live in Superior, you understand immediately how damaging oil and gas wells would be to the community. We must set our course in governing, managing the little land we have left, and holding onto the tax revenue we collect for the town. 

What do you think is the biggest pro of a home rule charter? What is the biggest con? 

The biggest pro is the town’s ability to work immediately and quickly on issues it faces without relying on state legislators. There are risks in waiting for the state to pick up a problem specific to us, such as oil and gas drilling, or even being more reactive to emergencies like the Marshall Fire. 

The biggest con for a home rule charter is written in a way that is too constrictive or limits the ability to change it in the future. We do not want to handcuff our elected leaders with an over-engineered charter. My pragmatic approach to building businesses and leading teams will help to ensure this doesn’t happen to Superior!

What should be included in the charter? What should be left out?

We must include reforms from the state statutes, allowing citizen-led petitions to be clear, easily understood, and appropriately scaled for our town. For example, a 5% of registered voters for a successful petition is likely too high of a bar. 

We should be very clear on how land and zoning shall be governed, and the process for making changes to land use and zoning should be well thought out. 

We need to allow transparency for how town funds are spent and should be able to collect tax revenues directly instead of being filtered through the state first. We’ll need to think through how this will work staffing-wise.

However, I want to be clear that my goal is to talk to as many voters as possible to form a charter that the people of Superior design! That’s why I’m conducting multiple community sessions to gather this input between now and the commission formation. 

What are some of the values and priorities you think the charter should reflect? 

The town of Superior has a diversity of viewpoints, but it’s clear to me the autonomy to do what it sees as best is priority number one. There have been several recent scares about actions imposed on the town, like the oil and gas drilling example, and the town should decide if that’s appropriate, not the state of Colorado. We’re also a quickly growing town with the founding of Downtown Superior, and we need to balance the needs of Downtown, Rock Creek, Old Town, and everywhere in between. The best way to do that is with a charter that accounts for those very different needs between neighborhoods, not as the state decides. 

The Town website says that a possible disadvantage of a home rule charter is the “possibility of a restrictive Charter that could make completing Town business more difficult.” How will you aim to mitigate that disadvantage? 

As a business leader and entrepreneur, pragmatism and balancing priorities are my everyday job. I’m experienced in reading a situation and understanding implications that may linger below the surface. That skill set will quickly come in handy in a setting with eight other commissioners helping the group resolve issues effectively. Building this charter will undoubtedly be a challenge, but one I’m excited to take on!

What do you hope to learn from community members that will inform how you draft the charter?

As discussed above, I’m conducting community meetings and planning to survey the community to gather input! There will be at least one public meeting once the commission is formed, and if elected, I will push for more than a single mandatory public meeting. This charter needs to serve the town of Superior for years to come and should reflect not only the current needs but be flexible for the future community needs. 

What is another home rule charter in Colorado you like and why?

While I think there are good elements of nearby municipality home rule charters like Louisville and Boulder we should reflect and model after; we should not make this a copy/paste job of others. We need to be considerate and thoughtful to create the right charter for Superior and not what worked for someone else. 


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