Golden City Council - District 2
On July 6th longtime Golden citizen Bill Simpson, 36, announced his intention to run for the District 2 city council seat. "Many of the things we take for granted in Golden--the small town character of the community, easy access to open space, locally owned businesses that contribute to Golden's civic life--are threatened," says Simpson. "I'm running to help preserve the quality of life we all enjoy."
According to Simpson the three main issues facing Golden are: the 6th Avenue / Highway 93 alignment for W470 (the Northwest Parkway); urban sprawl; and the city's use of Jefferson County Open Space funds.
"The proposed beltway through Golden is not a done deal, but it would be a disaster for Golden," says Simpson. "As my district's representative on City Council I would work to ensure that the City explores all its options--including litigation--to keep that freeway out of town." Simpson says that the push for the present routing of W470 is motivated not by genuine transportation needs but by a desire for more growth and development, particularly on the part of the City of Arvada.
"If W470 comes through Golden, we'll bear the environmental and social costs of the freeway while Arvada will see its tax base balloon. It's only fair that, if Arvada wants this freeway, they absorb a proportionate share of its impact."
Simpson expressed skepticism that the City of Golden could secure sufficient funds to bury the freeway or pursue other expensive mitigation strategies.
A fifth-generation Goldenite and direct descendant of Golden's first town marshal, Simpson has been disappointed in both the rate and quality of development in the community. "The City expected to collect about $8.5 million in sales and use taxes and planned to spend $11 million of General Fund moneys in 1999. Yet in the past 16 months the current majority on City Council arranged to pay out $7.4 million in subsidies to developers for city-edge projects. Granted, these are multi-year tax rebates, but we're obviously paying more than we should for the kind of growth we don't want."
Simpson says that the $3.7 million Interplaza and $3.7 million Golden Town Center subsidies were wrongheaded because they promote sprawl and put non-subsidized, established merchants at a competitive disadvantage relative to the new businesses. "What's particularly troubling in all this," says Simpson, "is that the City doesn't even have a specific program in place to track the longterm effects of the subsidies."
As one of the authors of the Citizens' Responsible Growth Charter Amendment, Simpson bristles at the suggestion that the charter amendment would harm Downtown Golden merchants.
"The Downtown merchants are a vital part of the community with a strong record of civic involvement. What we're trying to do is provide these folks with a level playing field. They have every right to expect as much in a free market economy, but the government shouldn't be in the business of picking and choosing which businesses are worthy to receive disbursements of public funds."
Simpson managing growth in his garden
Getting to the root of a problem
Simpson remarked that the recently created Economic Development Commission (which would provide municipally funded grants to local merchants) would not even have received serious consideration except for fears that the Interplaza development will have a negative impact on established businesses. "This is a classic example of the 'if something doesn't work, do it harder' fallacy. Now we're talking about handing out subsidies to mitigate the effect of other subsidies. It's time to kick the subsidy habit cold turkey."
In response to the objection that the Citizens' Responsible Growth Charter Amendment is inflexible, Simpson replies, "Like so many things it's a question of balance. In this case we're trying to restore a balance between governmental flexibility and citizen accountability."
"The Charter Amendment doesn't ban subsidies. It merely requires that the party requesting the subsidy explain to the voters why it's necessary. Capital improvements such as the Downtown and South Golden Road streetscapes are not restricted by the Charter Amendment."
Simpson remarked that as a member of City Council he would welcome the Responsible Growth Charter Amendment because, "It would shield City Council from charges of playing favorites. We wouldn't be in the position of deciding which businesses deserve a dip from the municipal till. Obviously, that would be a relief."
In addition to the Responsible Growth Charter Amendment, Simpson favors developer fees that compensate the community for the impact of new development, revisions to the municipal code that will encourage infill construction and discourage sprawl, and implementation of both the "letter and the spirit" of the 1% growth limit.
As an avid outdoorsman Simpson says that both the city of Golden and Jefferson County need to acquire as much open space land as possible and that it is vital to acquire all of South Table Mountain for open space. "Currently a disproportionate share of the City's Jeffco Open Space appropriation is being used for capital construction rather than property acquisition. As a member of City Council I would work to restore this balance. I would also work vigorously to see that all of South Table Mountain is acquired for Open Space."
As other priorities for the City of Golden Simpson lists the establishment of affordable and senior housing and the recruitment of city staff members committed to sustainable, community-centered development.
A Golden native, Simpson graduated in the top 10% of his class from Regis Jesuit High School in 1981, graduated as a University Scholar from Southern Illinois University with BAs in Philosophy and Classics in 1985. Simpson received a MA in Humanities from California State University in 1989 and in 1995 received his MA and Ph.D. in Ancient Greek Philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His dissertation, "Perception and Thought in Aristotle's De Anima" was one of only eleven nominated by CU for recognition by the National Endowment for the Humanities. "I can promise that I'll be the only person on City Council who's read Plato's Republic in the original Greek," jokes Simpson.
Simpson has published a number of articles and reviews in his academic specialty and has published one book of general interest, From Image to Likeness. He supports himself as a writer and as an instructor in business ethics and philosophy at Metropolitan State College and the University of Colorado at Denver.
Simpson created the WWW.GOLDENCO.ORG Web page, served as president of the Golden Landmarks Association, and fought to save the old Mitchell Elementary School from demolition.
He and Barbara Goodrich, a classical harpist, have been married for seven years.
"I look forward to working with folks like Dave Kibler (Candidate At-large), Valerie Walker (Candidate District 1), and City Council members like Brian Starling who understand the challenges facing Golden," says Simpson. "Golden is entering a crucial time and a consensus seems to be emerging that the quality of life in our community can't be ensured by business and politics as usual. I want to work alongside Golden citizens to help create a more positive future for our community."
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