Lafayette city council candidates talk fracking, housing and more at Thursday forum

October 11, 2019 in Boulder


Lafayette City Council candidates answered a variety of questions supplied by residents during a candidate forum Thursday night.

All 13 candidates are vying for five Lafayette City Council spots up for election on Nov. 5 attended the forum which was held by the League of Women Voters of Boulder County.

Fracking: Do you support or oppose it and would you go to court for it?

Anne Borrell: “Yes, I do oppose fracking and yes I would go to court. Lafayette is unique, we are the only city in the state that has the backing and the expertise of the community legal environmental defense group who has been working with us for six years, and helped us craft The Community Bill of Rights. These are not just aspirations, this is law. We get to defend it. All the cities around us have been fighting; all of them have been trying to fight fracking.”

Cliff Smedley: “Engaging in legal action to protect us from fracking, I’m willing to do that. I’m not going to bankrupt the city in order to pursue legal action, but it is an option that’s on the table. And I think it needs to be said that we need to be practical about our legal approach. But when the rubber meets the road. I think we need to follow Colorado Rising in their perspective and fighting fracking.”

JD Mangat: “There’s no place for fracking here in Lafayette. The public health and the safety of our people have to come first. During my time on council, I’ve supported our moratorium on oil and gas and the extension of it. And I know with the passage of Senate Bill 181, we now as a local government have a lot more control and say in what’s going on by implementing fee implementation, emission monitoring by a third party and, the biggest thing as a city councilor that you can do is make a decision on land use. We need to have some more long-term thinking as a council.”

Andrew J. O’Connor: “I am for a fracking ban because it’s an existential threat to our health, safety and welfare. I want a 99% severance tax on the gas industry. Most importantly, I want to see Lafayette sue Weld County for the harm to our health in order to stop the source of the poisoning of our air and environment. I’m the only one up here with federal litigation experience.”

Climate: Would you declare a crisis, and would you enforce the city’s Climate Bill of Rights

Stephanie Walton: “The climate is absolutely a crisis. I think that in Lafayette it’s important that we’re talking about strategies and policy and local efforts that we can do to protect our air and water. The Climate Bill of Rights and declaring of a crisis, absolutely should be tools that the council should be considering. The Climate Bill of Rights is also an interesting legal strategy that we should be discussing.”

Patricia Townsend: I would be in supportive of passing an ordinance declaring a climate emergency. I think it’s part of the picture just to turn up the volume on everybody’s fears and make it clear that this needs to be a priority. I also just think the what’s really at the heart of this issue is that we have a law system that is always elevating corporate profit interests over people, our communities. I just think the main thing is that we need to build the political will to overcome that. And that’s a big thing to overcome.”

Tim Barnes: “There’s no doubt we’re in a crisis. Declaring one, I don’t want people to panic. I think what we need to do is say there’s a climate crisis and then explain what that means. We have to look very closely at what we’re emitting, and how we can be prepared for what’s coming about. There’s not a quick fix, and the city has put in place what it can at this point to help deal with it, but there’s a lot of other things that we need to prepare. We’ll have a serious talk about emissions, not just from fracking (but) from all of the sources that cause the temperature to go up.”

Marty Feffer: “A climate emergency statement is nothing more than a non-binding resolution. The only thing that’s going to really do any good is for people to organize and say that if the state is not going to protect (us) and we need to do it ourselves. And that’s what the Climate Bill of Rights in Lafayette says. It not only addresses the oil and gas industry, it also expands the rights of communities to decide their own laws and addresses the preemption issue. There needs to be a nationwide movement so that … communities have the right and can to defend these laws.”

The city’s comprehensive plan: How were you involved, the most important part, and would you support the city’s urban growth boundary?

Tonya Briggs: “I definitely do not support expanding our urban boundaries. Lafayette loves its open space. I would love to keep our open space for all families to enjoy here. There are many parts to this, the comprehensive plan, and one thing that’s definitely important to me is keeping Lafayette affordable, creating affordable housing that’s not segregated in a very specific area of town. I think that minimizes our diversity.”

Doug Conarroe: “I participated in three previous comprehensive plan updates, and took part in three of the four community meetings. The current comprehensive plan was established in 2003, and was updated in 2013, as part of the minor update plan. … While the city was distracted with trying to defend Nine Mile Corner, which we should have done, (Erie) came in annexed into our urban growth. They took two or 300 acres from us along the north side of Baseline Road. We need to protect our boundaries.”

Jenna Tullberg: “Regarding the comprehensive plan, I think the most important aspects, as I said before, are the environmental stewardship as well as affordable housing. We need to ensure diversity both culturally and socioeconomically here in Lafayette, I live in Josephine Commons and as I absolutely love it. Seventy-four units (is) not bad, but putting up a project of 400 units, is little scary. I would rather see scattered site affordable housing and allowing other individuals if they want to put an attachment or expansion on their garage, those different types of ideas to benefit the people who are already living here.”

Affordable housing: Are you willing to support high-density, mixed-income to create options?

Brian Wong: “What we need to do is look at density. We also need to look at impact to neighboring communities or neighborhoods. One of the easy, low hanging fruit is that I think we need to do today is to allow accessory dwelling units in all of our zoning districts. That will spread out the density and allow our existing homeowners within the community to have the ability to have some income by building little mother-in-law suites.”

Nicole Samson: “I’ve been doing it for the last decade. So here’s the thing with affordable housing, it costs the same to build a house for somebody at any income level. The land cost is the same, the construction cost is the same. The cost to have your builders build it is exactly the same. I have been able to bring over 500 new units of affordable housing in the last year for the city of Thornton and I know I can do it every year for Lafayette.”


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