House District 37
Two-term Republican state Rep. Spencer Swalm is a conservative’s conservative. He opposes abortion rights, federal health care reform and tax increases in general. He is a rare public voice against Question 3A to increase the mill levy for Littleton Public Schools.
Earlier this year, Swalm, a onetime fellow for the Independence Institute, made headlines for his comments opposing a bill to prioritize a tax credit for the working poor. He said the best way to avoid children living in poverty was for unmarried people to not have kids and for those who do get married to stay married.
This is not to say that Swalm has been ineffective. He led the effort for a law protecting personal assets from Medicaid spend-down provisions for those who buy long-term care insurance. Another of his bills created a pilot program to offer affordable limited-benefit insurance to low-income workers in the San Luis Valley.
Although District 37, which is contained entirely within Centennial, was historically Republican-safe, it is now among the most competitive districts in the state and is increasingly targeted by both parties. In previous election cycles, Swalm has narrowly defeated his Democratic challengers by a few percentage points.
This year, attorney Brett Godfrey is the Democrat who has stepped forward to offer a more moderate vision for the “purpling” district. For one thing, he says, the state should take money out of its corrections budget and invest it in programs that help children and the elderly.
While the self-described moderate counts himself pro-business, he says that support stops short of harming what is good for families in District 37. He says he will vote in favor of Question 3A.
While Swalm has integrity and has worked to serve his community well, it is time for a more moderate voice to represent District 37.
CCN’s endorsement: Brett Godfrey
District 2 Commissioner
Two strong, but distinct candidates are seeking this open seat on the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners. The decision voters make will leave its mark on county government for the next four years.
Campaigning has been contentious in a district that includes Greenwood Village and Cherry Hills Village, but mostly Centennial. The race and the GOP primary that preceded it have reprised the emotions and rhetoric that marked Greenwood Village’s battles with Centennial before its 2001 incorporation.
Republican Greenwood Village Mayor Nancy Sharpe is a proven consensus builder and a well-connected figure in the area’s government and economic-development circles. As mayor of a city with more businesses than residents, Sharpe would be sure to be business-friendly and attract economic growth in troubling times.
Democrat Rebecca McClellan, a member of the Centennial City Council, is a tireless advocate for constituents in her city district. Her areas of activism have included environmental sustainability and mitigation of urban coyotes.
By far, McClellan’s biggest issue has been redesigning the busy intersection of Arapahoe Road and I-25. She has staunchly rejected a proposal that would divert some of Arapahoe’s congestion onto an underpass that McClellan says would destroy residential neighborhoods. The battle has united much of her city district behind her.
McClellan and Sharpe have already waged war on the issue while serving together on an intergovernmental coalition facilitating the redesign. McClellan has said Sharpe is too tied to development interests. Sharpe has dismissed those claims as political theater.
Frankly, this is a tough decision . While the Greenwood Village mayor has the experience and political acumen to hit the ground running, McClellan is unambiguously passionate about her constituents — the voters, not the special interests that fund campaigns.
Sharpe is arguably tied to south metro area political and business establishments — especially as mayor of a city that is light on residents. McClellan, on the other hand, can be too passionate for her own good and occasionally stoops to hyperbole.
On balance, we believe — with some hesitation — that Sharpe is the better choice. If nothing else, her political and consensus-building skills will be important as the politically-divided board moves forward on a variety of fronts. Plus, McClellan’s passion is needed on the Centennial City Council, where she has sometimes been the one voice for putting citizens first — period.
CCN’s endorsement: Nancy Sharpe
Arapahoe County voters have a clear choice for sheriff.
Incumbent Republican Grayson Robinson has been a steadfast leader for the last eight years. Through an emphasis on community policing and “progressive” law enforcement, he has garnered a reputation as a community leader as well as the county’s top public-safety official.
While we may not agree with every decision the sheriff has made, Robinson has run his office and the county jail with a consistent level of integrity and evenhanded nonpartisan leadership.
By contrast, his Democratic opponent Tom Donahue, a state corrections officer, has comparatively limited law enforcement credentials. He has also shown little discernible interest in the position or in communicating his priorities to voters.
Donahue has yet to establish a website or attend a single candidates forum. He has rarely returned phone calls from Colorado Community Newspapers. As such, we question his commitment to the county and his genuine interest in the important duties of the sheriff’s office.
CCN’s endorsement: Grayson Robinson
If the choice is clear for sheriff, it is a no-brainer in the surprisingly contentious coroner’s race.
Incumbent Democrat Michael Dobersen, M.D., is among the most qualified officials to hold the job in the United States. A physician and forensic pathologist, he is a leading and nationally recognized medical examiner who has been called in for such high-profile cases as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
Arapahoe County is fortunate to have had someone with Dobersen’s unique qualifications for the past 17 years. The county coroner is one of only 15 forensic pathologists in the entire state of Colorado and one of only 400 in the nation.
In a stark comparison stands Republican attorney Jay Ledbetter. Lacking relevant experience, he has largely played party politics and made clumsy, unwarranted ethical charges against the incumbent — one of which he has retracted in the face of a criminal investigation of his campaign.
As Ledbetter has often emphasized, Colorado has no statutory requirement that a coroner be a trained physician. But given the choice, shouldn’t that be the clear preference?
Partisan politics has no place in an important, purely functional facility like the coroner’s office. We believe the Colorado General Assembly should re-evaluate the requirement that most county coroners be elected in partisan races, but for now, we encourage voters to favor experience and qualification over party loyalties.
CCN’s endorsement: Michael Dobersen
Although he entered office under something of a cloud, Democratic Treasurer Doug Milliken makes a compelling case for re-election. His leadership brought more than $43 million into Arapahoe County’s coffers during in his first three years — nearly four times the county’s earnings in the preceding three years.
Most notably, Milliken has used more than $18 million of county money to buy certificates of deposit in Arapahoe County banks. The deposits have been contingent upon the banks lending the money to small and medium-sized businesses in the county — a double benefit for taxpayers and economic development.
Republican Sue Sandstrom, a well-qualified certified public accountant, has said little to counter Milliken’s investment successes. She has instead emphasized the treasurer’s past personal bankruptcies, an aborted foreclosure on his home and a sensationalized television report that questioned his office hours and work ethic.
While Milliken needs to start taking a more active role in an ongoing partnership among the treasurers and assessors offices in several neighboring counties, he has provided mostly solid leadership, though he cannot really take credit for every single investment decision.
CCN’s endorsement: Doug Milliken
Clerk and Recorder
In 2004, Republican Clerk and Recorder Nancy Doty took over an office in disarray in the aftermath of her predecessor’s sex and financial scandals. Morale was at an all-time low when Tracy Baker was removed in an embarrassing recall election.
Six years later, the clerk’s department is a professional operation that has emphasized fiscal management, ethics and customer service in its handling of elections, motor-vehicle registrations and other services.
Ray Flesher, Doty’s Democratic opponent, has a stable resume in record keeping and data collection, but he has failed to tell voters what he would do to improve an already exceptional department. He has also been a no-show at candidate forums.
CCN’s endorsement: Nancy Doty
Republican Corbin Sakdol is seeking his second term overseeing the office that values every piece of real estate in the county. The valuations determine how much property tax an owner will pay to the county and the nearly 350 taxing jurisdictions.
Sakdol, a self-described “data geek,” might be a near-perfect candidate to serve as assessor. The 20-year veteran of the office is a certified general appraiser and a former real estate broker and developer with a degree in architecture.
The incumbent’s decision to place photos of all properties on the valuation notices that are sent to property owners in the county has been widely praised — even by his political opponent.
Sakdol understands the irony of his job being an elected position. The assessor’s functional role is void of anything even remotely to do with Republican or Democratic platforms. Sakdol has always stressed his training and experience, not his political allegiances.
Democrats have nonetheless put forth a hopeful to challenge Sakdol. Annette Springs, a onetime real estate agent and executive manager, might be a fine candidate for a vacancy, but she has presented no reason to remove a successful and highly qualified incumbent with a proven track record.
CCN’s endorsement: Corbin Sakdol