Four years ago, the Ward 1 community elected Charley Able, a new City Councilman who promised to protect our neighborhoods, enhance public safety, acquire more open space and parkland, advocate for our families, mitigate the effects of runaway growth, and help build a stronger sense of community.
Charley followed through on those promises.
Charley chose Lakewood 30 years ago because of its sense of community, its safe and secure neighborhoods, its open spaces and its mountain backdrop. Many of his friends lived here (and most of them still do) and he needed a bit of space - room for family, a horse and a dog. Lakewood had the right feel and that hometown atmosphere remains strong in Lakewood.
When he was the Rocky Mountain News reporter covering Jeffco and the western suburbs, Charley chronicled a community-oriented local government that soon gave way to a governing body that became loyal to density-oriented development based on administrative approval and a focus on "apartmentilezation". The virtually automatic administrative approval resulted in a shift to a developing landscape dominated by high-end, high-priced multi-family projects. And Charley reported the city's path toward higher sales taxes to facilitate tax subsidies for big-box retailers with out-of-state headquarters. But Charley also reported about the strengths of Lakewood's community, and the ways it celebrated itself: block parties, neighborhood picnics, and community celebrations such as Cider Days and Lakewood on Parade and its wildly popular 4th of July fireworks shows.
Cider Days continues to attract thousands of folks who love such community-building events, but the fireworks show was shelved for years until Charley fulfilled his campaign promise of breathing new life into the event.The revived celebration, dubbed the Big Boom Bash returns for a second consecutive year this summer after attracting nearly 8,000 people last year.
Our neighbors remain united in support of causes: helping folks in need, rallying for neighborhood kids and schools, and staunchly opposing development proposals that threaten the character and safety of their neighborhoods. Concerns remain: Land-use decisions now are made by city administrators, behind closed doors with little input from the community. The City Charter's guarantee of the right to Direct Democracy is under repeated attack.
Because of Charley's blue-collar origins. he is keenly aware of the financial difficulties many of our community members experience every day. And he understands why newly imposed fees and increases in existing fees and taxes are difficult for many of our community members to handle. Even before Charley was elected, he was co-petitioner of an effort to end Lakewood's grocery tax. That petition was so popular that City Council was forced to eliminate the food tax without a costly election.
Most of us agree on a vision of a bright and prosperous future for Lakewood, one that offers diversity in community and economy and, while building a thriving city that meets the needs of future residents, Charley knows that we must keep in mind the needs of our current residents, assuring that our city retains the suburban characteristics that drew us here.