Saturday, March 3, 2007

Profile: Julie Connor (CD7)

The candidates for the District 7 city council seat were all profiled in the March 2007 edition of the Washington Park Profile.

Julie Connor's candidacy was described as follows:
Julie Connor’s initial contact with her current boss, Kathleen MacKenzie, occurred a few years back when she questioned the District 7 City Councilwoman’s position on the issue of making public places free from secondhand cigarette smoke.

“Bureaucrats are not just faceless creatures without feelings. She was concerned about the effect on small businesses, understandably,” said Connor. “I just felt she should take a stronger stand for public health.”

Before hiring on as MacKenzie’s aide in July 2004, Connor built a diverse resume ranging from experience as a freelance journalist and graphic artist following her college years at University of Colorado, to a stint in the Peace Corps promoting modern health techniques in Chilean villages, and teaching English as a second language in Santiago, Chile.

She believes the experience she has garnered working in the District 7 office will pay off for the district’s residents. “I’m able to provide continuity. Not necessarily of policy, but of experience. A lot of major projects – the Gates renovation, the Broadway NEPA study, a number of larger zoning cases – are in the works now, and how fast you can hit the ground running will make a difference in your ability to serve.”

She would like to see the city more inclusive in its approach to government. “I like that Hickenlooper’s been willing to burn political cachet on the homeless and the environment, but he’s a businessman, and he’s used to doing things by unilateral decision, behind closed doors. A lot of people are turning away from civic involvement, and many of those that haven’t don’t feel like they’re being heard.

“One of the tenets of good business is efficiency. Maybe a tenet of the public process is a little bit of inefficiency. I think we’ve gone too far with efficiency. I think we need to put the ‘public’ back in public process.”

Connor disagreed with MacKenzie’s ultimate decision to support the recent special election. “I didn’t think we should spend the money, and I don’t think an elected clerk is the answer. I’d have delayed the vote ‘til the May ballot.”

The conflict between preservation and development is not always as simple as it seems, says Connor. “Part of the problem with scrape-offs is that a 75-year-old tree is gone that hid the house beneath it, that wasn’t all that much. The new house that’s built might look much better in balance, but the tree is gone, and it’s a shock. The Mayor’s idea for planting new trees has some good points, but maintaining a solid tree protection ordinance is equally as important.”

“Council is a combination of pro-active and re-active,” said Connor. “You take all the information coming in to you and distill it into cohesive policy. Whether the topic appears petty, mundane or even ridiculous, there are underlying issues you can deal with on a policy level.”

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