Thursday, March 15, 2007

CD7: Dennis Smith questionnaire

In advance of last night's forum for City Council District 7 hosted by the West Washington Park Neighborhood Association (WWPNA) (of which I am Vice President and History chair), the candidates were provided a list of questions. Dennis Smith could not attend, but answered all of the questions in writing.

Visit the WWPNA site online for the complete questionnaire. A sampling of answers is provided below:
How would you vote when presented with a petition from homeowners in our neighborhood who would like to change their zoning from R-2 to R1?
Assuming every homeowner on a block signed the petition in favor of downsizing, I would support downsizing. Otherwise I am opposed to downsizing.

What have you done for your community?
I teach illiterate refugee immigrants (and there are many in Denver) fundamental English. I get them jobs, advocate for them across the community (health care, legal problems, sports, etc.) and I nurture them to embrace American ideals: equality, freedom of religion, civic duty. I was instrumental in getting Denver outdoor pool hours extended last summer. And I was an early and persistent advocate of Denver getting a disc golf course. Denver’s 1st course opened last summer in Paco Sanchez Park.

Where are the majority of your campaign contributions coming from?
I don’t solicit nor accept monetary campaign contributions.

What is your position on allowing liquor to be served in the parks and in particular the recent proposal to allow the sale of alcohol in the parks?
I am opposed to both alcohol-in-the-park proposals. I voted against the first proposal, allowing liquor to be served in the park (my side lost) when the issue came before the Denver Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, and I will vote against the recent proposal to allow for the sale of alcohol in the park when it comes before the board later this spring.

Would you support neighborhood traffic calming measures as requested by neighborhoods in your district? For example, will you support returning one-way to two way streets interior to neighborhoods in your district, lowering speed limits from 30 to 25 mph on interior streets, and/or measures (e.g., cul-de-sacs) to reduce cut-through traffic?
Yes!! On all counts. In addition, an issue that is high on my agenda is calibrating pedestrian cross walk lights to be responsive to users. My goal: when a pedestrian pushes a cross walk button in district 7 it will respond within 90 seconds.

We love old homes as well as the rights of their property owners. In the case of both “adverse” historical designations and demolition of civic structures, however, these interests clash. If compromise was impossible and you had to make a hard decision, how would you weigh the inherent rights of property owners against the historical legacy of the city? OR How would you have voted on the DeBoer historic
designation issue?
I would have voted against the DeBoer historical designation.

Is District 7 a neighborhood or is it a group of neighborhoods? What is your vision for these neighborhoods and the relationships between them?
District 7 is a group of neighborhoods. I advocate the further maturation of these neighborhoods through the power of the market economy and free enterprise.

What is it that you want to do if you are elected to City Council?
Maintain the positive momentum that Kathleen MacKenzie has generated. I’d like to help the Gates site developers get their proposed pedestrian/bicycle bridge built connecting the east side of Santa Fe Drive to the Platte River Bike Trail.

What does it mean to "preserve the character of the neighborhood" in WWP? Would we want to preserve the character of every neighborhood in District 7? How does this fit these neighborhoods into the Greenprint Denver plan? What needs to be preserved and what needs to change over the next 50 years? What would you do to start work in this area?
It’s a trite expression meaning “maintain the charm.” I would defer to private enterprise and our market economy to continue enhancing district 7.

If election to City Council can be seen as a first step in a public elected career, what are your aspirations, and what sort of political agenda do you have? What party affiliations or attractions do you have?
I’m a registered Republican, but I don’t vote a straight party line. I have no political ambition beyond city council. I enjoy teaching and I’ll probably keep my hand in it.

What are the city-wide issues you care most about? What approaches to working on those issues do you favor?
1. It’s no surprise, but I see a connection between our high drop out rate and the increasing popularity of gangs, and thus the ensuing graffiti. Getting kids to care about their education is a tough nut to crack. But the city as a whole, not just DPS, should take a vested interest in selling kids on the benefits of literacy.
2. Dedicated funding for Denver Parks & Recreation. I’d take a hard look at a RETT (real estate transfer tax). This would be unpopular with most realtors, but a case can be made that well-funded and maintained parks raise the value of adjacent land, thus the property tax as well. Denver has a lot of parks that are neglected due to funding shortages.
Maintain the parks, improve the neighborhood, increase the property values, and increase the property taxes.

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