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 for candidate Jerry Frangas.
Please provide a three-sentence bio about yourself. I am a Denver native, married with three children who attend Denver Public Schools. My education background includes Master's degrees in social work and public administration and my work background is in working with children and families, the homeless, and people with mental health issues. I currently serve as Representative for Colorado State House District 4 and work to pass progressive legislation for the State.
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 believe that we will eventually need to tweak the local ordinance that has passed and statutes currently in development, after studying their impact. For example, we need to smoke out any Constitutional issues. Signage issues are really lighting people up in the District.
Bonus question: If you were a strain of medical marijuana, what would your name be? Jerry Berry.
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. Council does not have any direct authority over DPS. However, we need to advocate for lower student to teacher ratio in all classrooms -- study after study has shown that this has the most impact on results. We also need to advocate for increasing focus on making sure that more parents participate in their child's education and that families feel that they have a voice in driving their neighborhood schools.
Bonus question: To test your street smarts, answer this quiz question submitted by Geeks Who Drink: This celebrity chef is credited with introducing America to gourmet or California style pizza? There's one of his overpriced outlets at Denver International Airport. Wolfgang Puck.(Correct)
What specifically would you want done to the new zoning code before final vote on June 21? If you are going to have three, five or eight stories zoned along Main Street and at places like St. Anthony's Redevelopment, then I believe we need to have adequate transitional zoning in place. The zoning code limits new development relative to the context of zoning and form of existing structures -- this is great! I also believe that we need to focus on process after implementation. Before a shovel hits the dirt, the community should have the chance to meet with the developer and look for common ground.
Bonus question: Include the name or address of your least favorite building or house in District 1. The vacant lot at 3122 Osceola. This used to be a Historic District House. It was demolished after a ten foot hole appeared in the house. I will be looking at Ordinances to protect historic homes and districts.
Name two potential areas of the city budget that you believe could be trimmed and name two potential new revenue streams for the city. We should look at eliminating consultants and trimming positions (and salaries) of upper level management. We must look at Council salaries and benefits too. We also need to look at building in savings through incentivizing cost cutting -- departments must change the culture of rewarding the bloating of budgets to focusing on achieving savings as part of their mission. This change must take place before we look at charging people any new taxes or fines to keep the city afloat.
Bonus question: In which District 1 bar/coffee shop/restaurant/dispensary are you most likely to be spotted, and what would you be consuming? Sunrise Café. We eat their often when we need to refuel while we're out talking to residents.
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? The City of Denver already requires permits and fees for qualifying events. Any admission based events or dog park expansion should be collaborative efforts with surrounding neighborhoods (with benefits for that specific neighborhood). Any direction towards admission based events will require a review and perhaps change in the City Charter. I would like feedback from District One before taking a position on cordoning off sections of our public parks and before attempting any required changes to the City Charter.
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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? "Oye Como Va" with North Denver singing back up and city leaders in the audience.
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? We need to develop proper multi-modal corridors from the light rail stops to our business districts. I look forward to the chance to work with residents and businesses to draw pedestrians and bicyclists to our business districts. We need pedestrian friendly streetscapes that are senior and handicap accessible. I can also work with businesses to develop innovative and cost effective ways to meet parking needs.
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? They are all working together for North Denver... It's a conspiracy!