Over the past several years, northwest Denver has been the site of heated clashes over new development, struggling schools and other hot-button issues -- and the political pot got stirred into a frenzy when Denver City Council District representative Rick Garcia split for a gig with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Ten candidates are vying to fill the vacancy; the contenders range from veteran politicians to neighborhood activists to longtime local business owners. (For details on voting in this special election, click here.)
To sort through the mess before the ballots are counted on May 4, Westword sent all ten candidates a pointed (and, yes, at times irreverent) questionnaire. We'll be publishing the unedited results over the next week (links to all of the responses so far can be found at the bottom of the blog). Here are the responses from candidate Jon Lehmann.
Please provide a three-sentence bio about yourself. My Denver roots run deep. I was born and raised in Denver, attended and graduated Denver Public Schools. Public service is a core value for my family, one that I have practiced throughout my life and I would be honored to represent you as the next City Councilman for District 1.
Some reports suggest northwest Denver has the highest concentration of dispensaries. Do you believe additional medical marijuana regulation is needed and, if so, what should it be? I strongly support the regulation and taxing of medical marijuana dispensaries. I think we need to complete a detailed analysis of the impact of the current city regulations that were adopted by Denver City Council on January 11, 2010, and we need to understand what provisions are working, which are not, why some provisions are not working and what possible unintended consequences have occurred due to these regulations. Once we have completed this analysis, we can effectively adjust and add regulations to solve those outstanding problems
Bonus question: If you were a strain of medical marijuana, what would your name be? If a strain were to be associated with myself or my campaign, I want to pay homage to my incredibly dedicated volunteers and would call it "Givin' to Livin' Good in D1"
District 1 schools are struggling. Please give concrete examples of how DPS can accomplish significant improvements while also providing equal opportunities for all local families. I am a third generation graduate of Denver Public Schools. I will focus on jobs and our economy so that parents can focus on their kids, teachers, School Board members, State House Representatives and State Senators who have a direct impact on the education system of our state. Finally, I will moderate public forums with School Board members and/or State House and Senate representatives so that our community can voice their concerns to those who make the decisions.
Bonus question: To test your street smarts, answer this quiz question submitted by Geeks Who Drink: What's the name of Rocky Balboa's brother in law? As to the Rocky trivia question, I can't say I am a movie buff in any respect; however, I do appreciate and understand how movies influence and inspire all of us. To be perfectly honest, I cannot recall the characters name, but, as I have a dedicated research staff and a great group of volunteers, I am told and believe it was Paulie. (Correct)
What specifically would you want done to the new zoning code before final vote on June 21? Many people from many interest groups have spent a substantial amount of time working on the New Zoning Code since 2005 and I believe we need to continue to move this process forward. The New Zoning Code is not perfect, but it is better than the antiquated 1956 Zoning Code that we are currently using to plan future development. One of the main responsibilities of City Council is to address case by case zoning concerns once the New Zoning Code is adopted, and this would include places like the St. Anthony Central campus, where the designated zoning will have a direct and immediate impact on the potential viability of that campus and the surrounding neighborhood. As your next City Councilperson, I will take on the challenge of building consensus around what adjustments to the New Zoning Code best suits the needs of the community for this site and others like it around the District.
Bonus question: Include the name or address of your least favorite building or house in District 1. Candidate Chris Jeffrey's home.
Name two potential areas of the city budget that you believe could be trimmed and name two potential new revenue streams for the city. I am extremely concerned about the City's budget, and I want to hear from the residents and business owners in District 1 about their priorities and how cuts will affect them. To save money, the City must continue to focus on efficiency, which includes identifying where resources are being wasted by surveying the City workforce and the community, and then changing wasteful practices. In addition, applying simple, environmentally conscious practices City-wide may save money as well as make our community more sustainable. Two areas of potential new revenue streams for the city are: 1) Admission Based Events in Denver's parks; and 2) Off-leash licenses for off-lease areas in Denver parks.
Bonus question: In which District 1 bar/coffee shop/restaurant/dispensary are you most likely to be spotted, and what would you be consuming? Haney's Coffee Shop; Jon Lehmann's Special -- White Chocolate Mocha
Many changes are possibly afoot for city parks -- and in the meantime, rec fees are skyrocketing . What are your opinions on new proposals on the table such as expanding off-leash areas, as well as new revenue initiatives such as allowing parks to host admission-based events? I support both expanding off-leash areas and admission-based events. Please see www.jonlehmann.com for more information.
Bonus question: If the city were to hold a karaoke concert in Berkeley Park, what song would you sing and who would you have on back-up vocals? "Ripple" by the Grateful Dead; back-up vocals by Mayor John Hickenlooper.
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What should be done to diversify transportation options in District 1, while at the same time encouraging pedestrian traffic and drawing visitors to the area's business districts? I am a strong advocate for FasTracks and public transportation. Northwest Denver has an enormous opportunity to benefit from the development of the West Corridor and Gold Line by ensuring transportation services that connect these two rail corridors are developed along the streets that serve our business districts. The right connectivity will both give District 1 residents access to the rest of the city via light rail, while also ensuring that people can come to Northwest Denver to visit, shop and play without having to bring their cars. Smart streetscaping can help ensure the business districts are pedestrian and bike friendly.
Bonus question: If there were a three-way gang war between the Highland Mommies, northwest Denver dog walkers and local urban homesteaders, who would win? That is easy, the Highland Mommies.