The May 8 Highlands Ranch Metro District elections are just around the corner, yet permanent mail-in voters should expect to see their ballots arrive this week.
With four positions set to be filled on the district’s board of directors, two of those seats are uncontested. There are five individuals vying for the other two positions.
Vicky Starkey, incumbent for the North Central Region, and Nancy Smith, incumbent for the Northeast Region, are both running unopposed. In the Southwest Region incumbent Kelly O’Sullivan is being challenged by John Warnick and Renee Anderson.
The Northwest Region seat was not initially set to be on the ballot this year, but due to a mid-term resignation by Philip Cullen on Feb. 6, Greg Herman and Nick Robinson will square off to finish the remaining two years of Cullen’s term.
One of two candidates challenging O’Sullivan for her seat, Anderson is a native Coloradan who grew up in Lakewood, graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Occupational Therapy and has lived in Highlands Ranch since 1991.
Of utmost importance to her in regard to issues facing the metro district she cited fiscal responsibility, emergency and fire protection service, and the continued proactive management and maintenance of roads, as well as landscaping, parks/trails, open space and traffic signals.
“The HRMD has been feeling the crunch of reduced revenues from the economy and the lowered home values just as other governing entities have, so prioritizing spending will continue to be very important to helping Highlands Ranch sustain our quality of living and success as we near the last of the home building in the long-term plan,” Anderson said.
“I believe all issues and decisions can be better responded to with a thorough understanding of all information available. I plan to seek to understand and listen to what our citizens feel matter the most at every opportunity,” she added.
Warnick, O’Sullivan’s other challenger, just moved to Highlands Ranch in December. He has been involved with the Special District Association of Colorado since 2004 and is a former CEO of Small District Management Services, which manages 200 different special districts in Colorado.
“Highlands Ranch is the largest metro district in Colorado,” he said. “However, it is in a small minority of the 1,600-plus special districts in the state that has its own staff and is self-sustaining. The smaller districts require outside companies to come in and manage them and that’s what SDMS does.”
Warnick, who owns his own construction management business and has Masters of Science degrees from the University of Denver in construction management as well as real estate with an emphasis in finance, has served on four metropolitan districts in the past, doing so wherever he’s lived.
When it comes to issues of importance facing the HRMD he cited ensuring that the budget is handled efficiently and stated that the goal is to never have to go to voters for a tax increase.
Despite being challenged for her seat, O’ Sullivan, a graduate of Purdue and former officer in the U.S. Air Force feels that her experience on the board over the past half year, since being appointed in December 2011, gives her an edge.
“I was part of the fire contract renegotiation vote, and I am briefed and up to date on current fencing issues, snow-removal plans, road-repair plans and the sheriff’s crime statistics,” she said. “I am very interested in serving the residents of Highlands Ranch.”
According to O’Sullivan the most pressing issue the district faces at this time is the budget as property tax revenues are down 4.8 percent from 2011 levels. Being able to keep it balanced, while continuing to provide quality services and maintain the high standards of Highlands Ranch is extremely important, she said.
“With my broad foundation as a nurse, landscaper and volunteer, I believe I will continue being an asset to this community,” said O’Sullivan, who has volunteered at numerous schools in the Douglas County School District and worked with special needs children in the district as well.
One of two candidates seeking to fill out the last two years of Cullen’s term, Robinson has lived in Highlands Ranch since 1985. He has served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, has a BS in business administration, is a former business owner and was an enforcement officer for the EPA. He has 10 years of prior service on the HRMD board, six as president, and also served on the Highlands Ranch Community Association board for seven years.
Additional service for Robinson includes six years on the Tri-County Board of Health, five years with the Douglas County Parks and Trails Advisory Board, and two years as a trustee for the Highlands Ranch Park and Recreation Foundation.
“I have a passion for wanting to make this an even better place to live,” he said. “While I was on the HRMD board the first time, we added the Lucent interchange at C470, Redstone Park, Town Center Park, dozens of miles of trails, numerous neighborhood parks and a large number of the amenities we all enjoy today.
“I have the background and breadth of service to this community that allows me to draw on that knowledge and use it in the decision-making process to shape a sound and secure future for the district.”
Robinson said that the most pressing issues the district faces at this time are maintaining services at the current levels given reduced income, and planning for future infrastructure maintenance needs.
Herman, a Colorado native, grew up in Longmont and has lived in the Denver metro area since 1993. He has worked in the private sector for 29 years in manufacturing and industrial distribution companies and held numerous senior management positions. He studied business management at Front Range Community College.
“My wife and I purchased our Highlands Ranch home in 2002, and enjoy the aesthetics of the community, the open spaces and commitment to maintaining a quality of life,” Herman said.
Herman, who serves District 17 as a delegate for the Highlands Ranch Community Association, feels that his business experience is advantageous to his candidacy.
“As Shea Homes nears the completion of their build-out, there will be reduced revenue growth to cover the metro district budgets,” he said. “The challenge for the board will be both short-term and long-term budget planning and programs to ensure that the metro district provides the service to the community that residents have come to expect.
“I have demonstrated through my business career an ability to communicate with involved parties, gather information pertinent to a subject and sort through and reach a position. … My ultimate desire is to ensure we can maintain the quality of life, amenities and prosperity that Highlands Ranch is accustomed.”
For those people who are not permanent mail-in voters, the polling place will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., May 8 at the Metro District office building, 62 W. Plaza Drive in Highlands Ranch. All voters have the right to vote for all four district seats.