Lakewood mayor candidates talk issues and differences

Lakewood will choose its mayor on Nov. 5

Posted 10/15/19

A lot of change has already happened in the city of Lakewood this year. The Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative, which halts new home construction to one percent and will require Lakewood City …

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Lakewood mayor candidates talk issues and differences

Lakewood will choose its mayor on Nov. 5

Posted

A lot of change has already happened in the city of Lakewood this year. The Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative, which halts new home construction to one percent and will require Lakewood City Council to hold a public hearing and vote to approve residential projects with 40 units or more, was passed by voters in July. A City Council seat is already guaranteed to change with Ward 3 City Councilmember Pete Roybal preparing to leave his position as he is term limited.

Aside from all of that, another change may be on the horizon.

Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul is up for re-election with his position at risk during this upcoming Nov. 5 election. His opponent, Ramey Johnson, a current member of Lakewood City Council, is back for a rematch from the 2015 election. Paul squeaked out a 1% victory against Johnson that year.

Paul, a graduate from the University of Colorado Denver, served eight years on Lakewood City Council and six years on the Green Mountain Water and Sanitation District Board before becoming mayor.

“I really wanted to give back to the community that has given me so much. I feel like a lot of my personal growth and this sense of family has come from this city, people in the city and wanting to give back,” said Paul.

Johnson, a graduate from the University of Colorado’s Health Science Center, has been a nurse for decades. She served in the state legislature as the representative of House District 23 from 2003 to 2004 and has served on Lakewood City Council since 2011.

“For me, this is like a calling. It’s another way for me to use my nursing skills of helping people,” said Johnson. “I like being able to make a positive difference in this world.”

Paul says he sees growth and “what (it) looks like” as one of the biggest challenges facing the city, as well as affordability and homelessness. He pointed to revitalizing commercial corridors as another challenge, particularly along West Colfax. Paul said he hopes a licensing program Lakewood City Council passed this year can help reduce crime in West Colfax. One of the licensing program’s goals is to improve safety and security in the city.

“West Colfax drives our crime, and that’s an area we must tackle. When you see calls for service and issues for crime — a lot of that happens on the West Colfax corridor,” said Paul. “If we can tackle that, that can go a long way to freeing up police and making it safer.”

For Johnson, regaining trust from residents is one of the biggest issues facing Lakewood. She says a lot of the mistrust goes back to before the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative was sent to ballots. The initiative was challenged in court and held off the ballot for nearly two years, despite receiving enough signatures in support of the measure. Other issues Johnson sees revolve around public safety and growth.

“I am not against growth. People have been mislabeling me saying I want no growth,” said Johnson. “That’s not the case. Development needs to stand the test of time, and buildings that are put up need to enhance what we have here.”

As far as their differences, Paul says him and Johnson have a different vision of how to work with the community to move it forward. He says its healthy and necessary to have disagreements about Lakewood’s future.

“We have a duty and an honor to relay to the community factual information. I think what separates us is (Johnson) tends to not always present the facts and has a way of presenting a sense of fear of things,” said Paul. “My leadership style is to show we have some issues. I think I have a more optimistic outlook. Good, bad, or ugly — I always wanted to give the truth.”

Johnson said there’s many things that differentiate her and Paul. She said her life experience is one of them, having been married 52 years. She also pointed to a “level of maturity” between her and Paul.

“I have done everything I can to try and learn to do an honorable job. I have not been afraid to ask tough questions to try to get at things,” said Johnson. “I have not been afraid to have tough votes as well.”

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