Barbara Lawlor, Nederland
On Wednesday, March 12, seven candidates vied for position on the Nederland Board of Trustees in a public Meet the Candidates Night. With three open seats on the board, the competition was stiff.
Janette Taylor and Greg Ching facilitated the meeting which drew a room full of residents who wanted to hear what the candidates had to say. Nederland Mayor Joe Gierlach ran for his incumbent position as mayor but had no competition so Gierlach opted to give a State of Nederland speech rather than a campaign speech for the seat.
Food and drink were provided and town clerk Michele Martin manned the time paddle: green for begin, yellow for slow and red for stop. Each candidate had about 3 minutes to introduce themselves and explain why they wanted to run for the board of trustees. They also had four minutes to answer questions posed to them by the audience. At the end of the meeting, candidates chatted with the voters.
Candidates running for BOT:
Roger Cornell has lived in Nederland for 34 years. His volunteer work began early on and extended over the next three decades. He worked 20 years on the planning commission, one year as acting mayor and was a board member of the Nederland Community Center Foundation.
Cornell worked at CU supervised 30 employees and during his employ there, he spent many hours in the NCC meeting room. When he heard no one was signing up for three empty seats on board, he jumped on it. Since then, others joined the candidate list. Cornell says he has worked with the town staff to provide water and sewer to the community; and worked with public works and public safety for town. He plans to work to improve the town’s core business area and to support keeping Ned the small mountain community it is.
Roger Cornell is running for the BOT for the fourth time. He is a two-time mayor pro ten and in 1991 was the only trustee not recalled during a difficult time. His name is on every comprehensive plan, he has volunteered everywhere, put in theater seats, put in sound baffles, painted outside of west wing and been a major volunteer force for the center.
Kevin Mueller has lived in Nederland for 12 years, has two children at Nederland elementary School and Nederland Middle Level School. He earned a Bachelors Degree in mechanical engineering and is Leed certified. From 2003 -2008, Mueeler has been a member of the planning commission; on the NCC Advisory Board, on the Wild Bear Board of Directors and has worked on the 2013 comp plan. He says he is all for sustainable development and with his contract experience helped lower the $100,000 operating cost for water treatment and to less than $30,000 annually.
“I want to finish what we started as far as sustainability and efficiency.”
Topher Donahue told the audience that he was honored to be in the company of this town. “I Appreciate how people go on about their business. I have never been political.” Donahue comes from five generations of Estes Park families; has been a mountain guide, motivational speaker, writer/photographer, and moved to Nederland 12 years ago. “I don’t have an agenda, just a strength as communicator. I see Ned at a pivotal point where we need to make decisions to move foreword and want to see it happen in a way we all like. I strongly hope all trustees succeed. I feel positive about whoever ends up winning.” Nederland is at a sweet spot and the biggest change is the increased popularity of the town.
Charles Wood says he wants to see Ned go the right way, to preserve what it is with open communication. Wood has been vice-president of the NEd Library District Board, a member of the Nederland Area Seniors, and a Carousel volunteer. He is retired from managing large engineering and construction programs around the world, in remote areas that required infrastructure and utilities.
For five years Wood managed technology for Construction Industry Institute at the University of Texas-Austin. He has learned the LEED standard for sustainability. He earned a graduate degree in finance and public management. Wood has the ability to listen and to engage people of diverse backrounds to work together to accomplice common goals He has three grown children, is retired and has the time and energy to devote to trustee work.
Kris Larsen loves this town and just keeps coming back. He says he wants it to continue to be what it is, but there will be big decisions in growth and changes in the environment. He says he’ll bring the scientific method to town to come to the best decisions.
Larsen is a local native who has been coming to Ned since he was a kid. He studied physics at CU and attended grad school in St. Louis. “While I was there, I learned that I love Nederland.” He studied planetary science and knew he had to find a job and also knew that Nederland is where I belong.”
In 2005 Larsen joined the Open Space board and then was appointed to the BOt 2006, then worked in DC on science education policy. Although he got the political bug, he decided that DC is crazy and came back to Nederland in 2008. He has on the planning commission, and worked on the comprehensive plan and wants to become even more involved.
Cheyl Fanelli has lived in Nederland for 26 years and owned and operated Nikki’s Nook Gift Shop for 22. She says she loves the diverse town history. Her gift shop has become an unofficial visitor center where she helps people with directions and advice about the area. She has volunteered with the seniors for four years. Before her daughter was disabled she and Nikki ran the kids’ events for Miner’s Days.
For the past14 months Fanelli has worked to get approval for ClubNed. “I know the town code better than anyone. My goal is already accomplished so I have no personal agenda. I am just a citizen of Ned and believe we all should be part of shaping this town. I am a typical citizen who wants to represent you.”
David Hardy says, “We have an opportunity to do cool things as a board to strive to fulfill 20/20 Vision. Hardy lived in New York, went to San Diego to go to college and in 1996 came to Nederland for the music scene. In 1997 he landed a job with DU as IT support in biology. In 1998 he founded PlanetMind and by 1999 had an office in Nederland. The company got high speed data connection and formed NederNet which covers Allenspark to Rollinsville 10 years ago. He and his wife Tanya have led community celebrations with parades, benefits and concerts.
Joe Gierlach was unopposed for Mayor and instead of a candidate speech, gave a State of Nederland address. He was sworn in in 2008 and at that time wondered “how did Nederland get this way” The town was over $200K over budget so it had made $300K major cuts to police and public works with devastating impacts on the infrastructure. Relationships between the BOT and town staff were destroyed, as well as citizen, BOT planning commission and DDA relationships. There were no longer regional partner relationships.
There was huge turnovers in staff, and returned checks and balances between BOT and staff. Walls were torn down, making town hall welcoming. A guide to decision making process called Envision 2020 was developed.
“In 2020, Nederland continues to focus planning and economic development activities on efforts that address; non-motorized travel in town, alternatives for building and the use of sustainable materials, and connections to the outdoor environment providing active, healthy lifestyles for people of all ages.”
In the past six years, Nederland has a new marijuana business, a new liquor store, a music store, two breweries, a costume shop and seamstress, an outdoor gear store, a coffee and bike shop, a candy store, and musicians and artists contribute to local economy.
NedWEB Shop Local program was developed, First Friday Art Tours, the Visitor Center was reopened, holiday lighting was installed the first time in 20 years. There are rumors of light manufacturing and distribution companies. After years of complaints, Ned and USFS closed the Magnolia dump site to shooting and joined to reduce fire danger with Saws and Slaws and theNederland Sort Yard.
“I am going to focus on repairing decades of neglect on infrastructure and we need to get serious about affordable housing and lack of housing in general. Vote for three candidates and I ask you to vote to pay the trustees something for their time.”