Candidate soup, PartII


by Editorial Staff

Boulder Weekly continues its coverage of the Nov. 6 non-partisan, off-year, mail-in ballot-only election with profiles of six more candidates for the Boulder City Council. Last week the Weekly reviewed four of the candidates, and next week’s issue will include the remaining five candidates-David Gullick, Don Mock, Julia Perez, Gordon Riggle and Fred Smith.

We’d gladly urge you to get out and vote, but that would be fruitless. Instead, stay home, drink beer and wait for the ballot to arrive. Then, without ever leaving the comfort of your home, fill it out and mail it in. It’s really that simple. And please, don’t commit vote fraud even though the Boulder County Commissioners have made it amazingly simple with this bone-headed, stay-at-home voting technique.

Tom Eldridge
Age: 64
Occupation: Owner of Tom’s Tavern
An incumbent, Tom Eldridge considers his viewpoint on the current Council unique.

“The city of Boulder evaluates and studies and studies and studies and then sometimes doesn’t even make a decision,” he says. “I believe in evaluating an issue and making a decision… I’m not a pontificator.”

As a small business owner in Boulder, Eldridge has participated in nearly every downtown business program in the past 40 years. He is famiiar with Boulder and its problems. Like others on Council, his priorities are the Crossroads Mall redevelopment and what he calls “the two big E’s”-the environment and the economy. “We’ve got to have a sustainable economic and environmental future, and they go absolutely hand in hand,” Eldridge says. “Open space, for instance: 100 percent of it comes from sales tax.”

Unlike others on Council, however, Eldridge also sees transportation as a major issue.

“In Boulder we have the idea that the cars are the bad guys and everything else is the good guys,” he says. “But everybody drives a car at one time or another and buses go on the road.”

If Boulder is to reinvigorate its economy, therefore ensuring its ability to preserve its environment, Eldridge claims, it will have to improve its roadways.

Michael Hamann
Age: 23
Occupation: Volunteer teacher, full-time student
On the day we spoke with Michael Hamann, he had been busy.

“I spent all morning today calling federal agencies looking for grants so that people here can pay less and can afford their rent and work in the city and not have to commute,” Hamann says.

What this 23-year-old CU student lacks in experience he makes up for in dedication.

Hamann considers himself a fiscal conservative and thinks the Boulder City Council could find better, more efficient ways of spending its money, especially when it comes to housing and education.

“Most of the money they’ve gotten from HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) which is supposed to go to people for rent has really been invested in property,” Hamann says. “This doesn’t help people immediately.”

Hamann would rather see the city spend its housing dollars on assistance vouchers which could help anyone anywhere in the city, not just the few willing and able to move into affordable housing units.

When he turns his fiscal finger to education, he is surprised by the Council’s absence. Boulder families clearly want quality schools, he says, so why should the Council wait for the Feds to step in and save our children?

William Toor
Age: 39
Occupation: Director, University of Colorado Environmental Center

Will Toor, elected as mayor by his City Council colleagues, wants to continue his work on the Boulder City Council in order to finish what he has started. And the list is long.

Toor and his supporters credit him as being instrumental in:

  • Boulder’s acquisition of open space lands in Jefferson County, which prevented 20,000 acres of sprawling development stretching from the Boulder County line all the way to Golden.
  • Zoning within the city limits that ensures at least 20 percent of all new housing is reserved as “affordable.”
  • The new Jump, Leap and Bound bus services and two additional services that will start next year.
  • Successful negotiations with regional mayors and intergovernmental organizations to improve transportation along the Boulder Turnpike.

If all goes well, Toor says he anticipates commuter rail service between Boulder and Denver could begin as early as 2005. He envisions construction of a “transit village,” where bike paths, bus routes and train service will converge, near 30th and Pearl, to coincide with the start up of commuter rail service.

Although Toor takes credit for costly new programs and wants major capital improvements in the near future, he also says he favors fiscal restraint. Under his watch, Toor says, the Council has built up the city’s budget reserves from 2 percent to 12 percent.

Leslie Rosen
Age: 50
Occupation: Business consultant
Leslie Rosen says he’s seeking election because too many issues have been on the City Council’s agenda for years on end without being resolved.

“The key issues, the ones we keep hearing about, are economic development, transportation, traffic and the Crossroads Mall dilemma,” Rosen says. “These are familiar issues because they have hung around and have never been dealt with successfully. I’m running because what’s needed is out-of-the-box thinking.”

Rosen says Boulder has a long tradition of trailblazing, innovative government solutions. In recent years, however, he says the city has lost its edge and become like Anyplace, U.S.A.

On Council, Rosen would advocate for futuristic, high-tech automated people movers-“scaled-down monorails”-that would move people between various high traffic areas of town.

“It’s the wave of the future,” he says. “It’s faster than a bus, and it provides a better ride.”

To ensure a stable commercial tax base into the future, Rosen proposes what he calls the “Curitiba Plan,” named after Curitiba, Brazil. Like Curitiba, Boulder would become an international center for environmental and conservation oriented think tanks and public interest groups.

“Boulder would become to the environment what Seattle is to coffee, or what Washington, D.C. is to politics and public policy,” Rosen says.

Nabil Karkamaz
Age: 45
Occupation: Businessman/engineer
Nabil Karkamaz came to the United States from Syria in 1984, and since then has started a small business at Crossroads Mall (House of Shish Kabob); earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering; earned a second master’s degree in civil engineering; and earned a Ph.D. in civil engineering.

“I am an engineer, and I think like an engineer,” Karkamaz says. “To be an engineer is to use logic, to act as a problem solver. I do things by blueprint.”

Unlike most members of the City Council, Karkamaz says, he has first-hand knowledge of how to run a business. The majority of incumbent Council members are government employees, and Karkamaz says their backgrounds give them no practical ability to deal with problems such as the obsolescence of Crossroads Mall.

“Obviously, the people on Council do not know how to deal with and negotiate with a large company such as Macerich, which owns Crossroads,” Karkamaz says. “I do know how to do that.”

Karkamaz says he advocates a transportation system that connects retail, employment and housing as efficiently as possible in order to allow for higher densities in certain areas that will encourage pedestrian-oriented travel.

Karkamaz says he’ll work for a system of affordable housing that would concentrate on providing homes for police, firefighters, teachers and others who contribute to safety and the welfare of children.

“If the people we count on can’t live here, don’t expect the highest productivity, loyalty and efficiency from them,” Karkamaz says.

Mark Swanholm
Age: 32
Occupation: Director of Web Services, McData
Mark Swanholm, like most who migrate to Boulder, came her for a better quality of life. And he got it.

Unfortunately, Swanholm says he has been dissatisfied in recent years with the effectiveness of the Boulder City Council in dealing with issues central to Boulder’s collective welfare.

“Mainly, I’m disappointed with the way they have dealt with this issue of the jobs-to-housing ratio,” Swanholm says.

At issue is the fact that Boulder has some 50,000 more jobs than it does housing units or apartments. The result is a massive in-commute each day that creates traffic, noise, smog and parking problems.

“The issue isn’t simply trying to get jobs out of town, like the Council seems to think it is,” Swanholm says. “Part of the problem is that our job centers are so terribly zoned. Take the area around 55th and Arapahoe. It’s a disaster. You have all those jobs, and there’s no place for anyone to eat, and there’s no efficient way to get there.”

Swanholm would work to keep major employers on the edge of town, within the existing borders, so that commuters wouldn’t have to traverse the city. He’d work to ensure that services, such as restaurants, would be developed near major employment centers so people working in Boulder wouldn’t have to drive as much during the work day.

“I’d also look at ways to encourage car-pooling, and possibly at the potential for having subsidized errand-running services,” Swanholm says.

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