Aaron Brockett is committed to making progress through compromise as a Boulder leader, even if it means cutting back the scale of a major public safety project or the number of issues city council takes up.
Brockett, 46, is running for reelection to Boulder City Council after serving the last four years.
If he retains a seat, he sees room to make some changes to how council operates, and hopes to move forward one the biggest conundrums faced by local elected officials in the South Boulder Creek flood mitigation project and associated CU South annexation process.
On the flood front, he wants to prioritize reaching an agreement on a flood protection design that allows the University of Colorado to build what school leaders envision on the 300-plus acre parcel southwest of Boulder. Brockett would accept constructing the city’s infrastructure to handle creek overflow at less than the 500-year level some members of the current council have mandated to support the project.
“I was never one of those council members,” Brockett said. “… My hope is that a council majority would be willing to consider a 250-year level of flood protection if that is what it took to get the project done.”
In offering more thoughts on how the CU South and South Boulder Creek project conversations have played out, he questioned how some members of the current council in the past year responded to city staff’s work on the flood mitigation efforts, attributing knocks on staff on that topic to a larger issue he sees with council-staff interactions.
“I have great respect for our city staff,” Brockett said. “I think they’re extremely professional and very well qualified in general. I think generally they do a very good job. There are nine of us, we rely on them to run things on a day to day basis. Certainly … they have to bring us the details of things, we can’t craft the details ourselves.”
But he did say at times staff “get maybe a little far out of their lane” and make proposals outside the scope of what council pictured, requiring council to refocus projects. Limiting how often council plays that role is a need, though, he contends.
“I feel like council should do that judiciously,” Brockett said. “I feel like the problem in the last couple years is that council has criticized staff in certain cases, like on CU South, for work they did very professionally, and were then subjected to some harsh criticism from some council members I felt was unwarranted.”
He also sees a need to streamline council’s efforts by narrowing its focus to a fewer number of projects each year.
“I do think we bite off too many things. We’re very ambitious as a council and a community, and I think it ends up with too many things being on the priority list,” Brockett said.
On housing the former Planning Board member hopes to seize opportunities to erect homes along transit corridors, and move away from temporary council-imposed building bans as a tool to firm up development regulations.
Another Brockett goal is to bring as much of the newly approved Transportation Master Plan to life as possible, potentially with a new fee on property to fund the expensive backlog of identified projects, many of them meant to encourage cycling and transit over driving.
“I’ve never seen this as a zero-sum game where you have to make driving horrible to get people out of their cars to force them into these other options,” Brockett said. “(The plan) encourages them to, but there is a difference between encouraging and forcing.”