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Mayoral Candidate Responses 2022

The Erie Economic Development Council and the Erie business community thank voters in advance for their interest in these important issues.


The EEDC also thanks the candidates for choosing to serve the Town of Erie and its residents by running for public office. This survey contains questions gathered from EEDC board members on behalf of our investors and the larger Erie business community.


Election day is Tuesday, April 5th. If you have any further questions, please directly contact the candidate themselves or visit their website for more information.


 

Why do you desire to serve as Mayor, and how would your personal strengths benefit the Town of Erie?


Kelly Zuniga's Response

I am asking to serve as Erie's Mayor because I love our Town. The people of Erie are my inspiration for running. I have built strong relationships in and around our community through volunteer service - assisting teachers and soccer teams, leading our church youth group, tutoring math students, mentoring gardeners through the CSU Master Gardening program, founding and directing the Kenosha Farm Community Garden, foster parenting, serving on our Town Planning Commission, and most recently meeting residents on the campaign trail. The more residents I meet the more I am convinced that people of Erie are our Town's greatest asset. Over the past few years, we have felt the effects of elected leaders and town administration acting as though they know better than Erie residents how to care for our bodies, our children and our businesses. This heavy-handed approach has been demoralizing, sometimes divisive, and ultimately counter-productive.


As mayor, I will cultivate a civic environment friendly to residents and businesses, harnessing the creative energy of our community and helping Erie to meet its potential. I bring a rare and valuable combination of relevant skills, experiences and personality traits to the table that will help the Board to advance these goals. My professional career started in landscape architecture and regional planning. I built on that foundation with a Masters Degree in community and regional development and a PhD in town planning and design. I taught and researched urban design, site planning, and transportation planning at the University level. I founded and directed an entirely volunteer-based non-profit organization and brought together diverse funding sources from numerous local businesses to build a facility that continues to benefit the Erie community. My current park planning job with the City of Loveland's parks and open lands has given me valuable experience with municipal planning processes and procedures. Overall, the personal strength that will be most beneficial to the Town of Erie is my ability to build strong relationships with people. My combination of civil service, professional experience and congeniality make me an ideal candidate to lead the Town of Erie.

Mayor@kelly4erie.com

www.kelly4erie.com

Justin Brooks' Response


 

What is your vision for the development of the I25 & Erie Parkway project, and how would you advocate for that vision to become a reality?


Justin Brooks' Response

Currently being the only Erie Frontage along I-25, Exit 232 and the Erie Gateway project has the potential to greatly expand not only our commercial real estate inventory, but it also presents an opportunity to add Workforce Housing to our town. As is planned for Broomfield's Baseline project, many small businesses are finding it difficult to attract and retain management staff for roles that pay less than $100K. This is driven by many factors, with one major factor being both the cost of housing in Erie and the length of employees commute from areas that are more affordable. By adding variety to available housing in Erie, we will be able to better sustain the businesses that strive to succeed locally and increase the likelihood that they will be able to retain adequate staff for their full operating hours or are able to expand.


The Erie Gateway project will require partnership with Weld County to establish the Urban Renewal Authority, so I look forward to discussing this partnership and working with the developer that was selected for the Town Owned portion of the project, as well as CDG that owns the North Station section of this project. Also involved in the collaborative is RTD and the Federal Government, who we hope to have extend the North Rail Line to have a stop in the Erie Gateway development which would require a new overpass between Erie Parkway and CO Hwy 52.


At present, there are not sufficient utilities and public services to this site, so the URA creates a partnership and mechanism to bring necessary parties together to make the project in the most effective manner possible.


justin@brooksforcolorado.com

www.brooksforcolorado.com

Kelly Zuniga's Response


 

As the town grows, what do you consider the role of "Old Town Erie/Downtown Erie" in our community?


Kelly Zuniga's Response

Experts in Environmental Design argue that Old Town districts benefit the public by bringing continuity, memory and identity to a place. But what does that mean to newer residents? For me, it means that I can sit down with someone who has lived in Erie for fifty years and hear stories that are anchored to specific locations in the area - beer can hill, the old race track, chicken city, and more. Many of those places are lost in change as new developments move in, so the historic buildings in Old Town provide an anchor to the history and identity of Erie's early residents. I have lived in Erie for just under a decade, but as older residents pass the stories on to me, I become another caretaker of a local treasure. As Mayor, I will take that stewardship very seriously and will seek opportunities to keep Erie's history alive.



Mayor@kelly4erie.com

www.kelly4erie.com

Justin Brooks' Response


 

What policies/practices would you like to implement that would support existing business in Erie, while also attracting new business and primary employment to Erie?

Justin Brooks' Response

Over the past handful of years, there has been a great deal of growth of commercial retail on the perimeter of town. I'd like to continue that work, which has provided a much greater source of retail sales tax revenue. This revenue not only serves to sustain our town services and infrastructure, but it also creates an opportunity for re-investment in public-private partnerships such as the capital improvement grants program that were issued to some relatively new Old Town Businesses (e.g. Piripi, Birdhouse) as well as Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that was used to construct 105 Wells St. I would like to see expansion of these programs as it applies to small business owners, as it creates a method matching capital investments that serve to increase the investment being made in the Town of Erie, while also increasing the potential for revenue generation of the businesses assisted, which serves to make our community more sustainable.


As it pertains to bringing primary employment to Erie, there are currently many options for small businesses (note: Small Businesses may have up to 1500 total employees) and we hope to bring more. Working for a large business, I have been party to discussions regarding the site selection of office space and there are many factors that are considered (incentives from the locality for construction, proximity to suppliers/partners, access to major thoroughfares, workforce housing availability, etc). In speaking with regional mayors, some have confirmed that this is indeed a complex factor that lately is driven by how affordable for the employer that commercial real estate can be made.


Today, as I was speaking with a voter, they asked about this very topic and offered the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Thornton as an example of the type of thing we should be bringing to Erie because it creates thousands of new jobs. While I will not argue that new jobs are great. Think about the benefit to the City of Thornton that came with such a partnership and what that may look like for a Town like ours. The starting salary at that Amazon center is $12.50 with roughly 1500 workers. With there being no local income tax for the Town of Erie (don't worry, not even a remote possibility if I have anything to say about it), and there being no actual retail sales onsite being that it is a warehouse, the only potential benefit to the Town would be property taxes. One could argue that the employees could spend their lunch periods at the local restaurants. However, given the salary range, dining frequently at our restaurants let alone purchasing or renting any of our residences is simply out of reach at our current state.


There are a very large number of Work From Home warriors and I believe that to a large degree COVID taught many companies that large-scale office building are less necessary than we once thought. There will not be going away, but the prospect that Erie should be targeting Google, AWS, Ball, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Hunter Douglas, Raytheon, or any of the other regional major Fortune 500 companies for their next corporate headquarters may be unrealistic. A more likely case is that we can create a balanced community for the next 30K residents that will likely move to this area, supporting the small and medium-sized businesses that are sure to come along with them. With increased foot traffic and variety of businesses, the viability of our local economy increases.


justin@brooksforcolorado.com

www.brooksforcolorado.com

Kelly Zuniga's Response