Although I have many ideas for Superior, I am focusing my platform around three key priorities to help drive thoughtful growth and build an even stronger community for Superior.
One of the Town Board’s 2018 goals was to enhance financial stability and business retention, and I’d like to take up the mantle on that in 2019 and beyond. Today, 85% of our sales tax revenue comes from just five local businesses – which is especially worrisome as the Consumer Markets industry (my specialty as a management consultant) continues to push direct-to-consumer distribution and close physical storefronts. Our town needs to diversify its sales tax base, which represents 59% of our general fund budget, by attracting more service-oriented businesses (e.g., restaurants, salons) rather than focusing on retailers who may or may not keep their storefronts open.
In order to attract service-oriented businesses, though, we need to have the traffic to support them. For example, restaurants need to have a solid lunch business to stay afloat – and that means we need offices so people can work in Superior rather than commuting elsewhere. Our Town Center must have a healthy mix of businesses that attract visitors and generate sales tax revenue. As Trustee, I want to ensure that we thoroughly evaluate any land sales / design plans that are brought before the Board, and vet them for what they can add to our town.
I would also like to explore offering strategic incentives to the right businesses that will help bring people to Town Center and help it thrive. Our Board needs to be business-friendly in working with new applicants to help them succeed. With over a decade of experience helping businesses grow and thrive, I am well-positioned to evaluate applicants, understand their needs, and propose changes to plans and agreements that will ultimately benefit our residents.
While it’s great that the Town increased our economic development budget from previous years, 2019’s $150,000 isn’t really enough to do much as far as traditional incentives to attract businesses. It’s more likely that this money can be used to provide funding for events that will draw people to downtown – so let’s get creative. I’ve been attending meetings of our Cultural Arts and Public Spaces (CAPS) committee, and am excited by their plans for pop-up events in 2019 that will bring people to the Superior Marketplace. Too many of us get stuck in our regular routines, which often involve leaving Superior for restaurants, shopping, and events. We need to disrupt those old patterns and start getting people to stay in Superior and spend their money here.
I want to use my customer experience expertise to champion more experiences that make Superior not only the best place to send our kids to school and go to sleep at night, but the best place to spend our free time. Imagine if Superior weren’t just the pass-through “gateway to Boulder Valley”, but it was the place for our residents to stay for restaurants, festivals, and farmer’s markets. Having our residents head off to neighboring towns hurts not only our sales tax base but also our community. Despite our size, at heart, we’re a small town – in my opinion, the best small town in the country – and even as we continue to build new homes and businesses, I want to preserve that small town spirit.
As we evaluate other opportunities that come to the Town, like the recently-proposed Rough Riders Community Center partnership, I want to ensure that we ask the right business-minded questions to make sure that we are doing what is right for the town. Although we currently have a number of undeveloped properties in Superior (some privately-owned and some owned by the town), the demand for those properties is increasing… and will continue to do so given that they are a finite resource. I am a strong proponent of our 2012 Comprehensive Plan’s land use goals to provide a balanced mix of land uses that enhances Superior, and to ensure a balanced community of cohesive residential neighborhoods linked by parks/open space/trails. Again, I believe it’s critical for our Board to consider land use / sale proposals thoughtfully and thoroughly – taking into account our Comprehensive Plan but also being ready to adapt and adjust rather than rigidly adhering to a vision developed years ago.
Speaking of Open Space… we need to identify property to buy with our Open Space Fund ASAP, or else we’ll have the money amassed but nowhere to spend it. In four square miles, there just isn’t a lot of undeveloped land left to buy. Our Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) has done a great job identifying and prioritizing properties for acquisition. Now, I want to see the Board make it a priority to act upon these recommendations in 2019.
One of my primary reasons for running is to ensure our Board can react intelligently to new opportunities. In my work as a management consultant, I work with clients who are facing new opportunities and challenges, and need to decide whether or not to shift course. It’s my job to evaluate new business opportunities for cost, benefit, and feasibility, and present a recommendation to the C-suite / Board of Directors. If the client decides to move forward, I then chart the path for them to do so, starting with a 30/60/90 day plan for immediate action and ultimately developing a 1/3/5 year roadmap for long-term milestones and goals. I’d like to apply these same skills to the opportunities with which the town is presented. It’s great to have a plan, but Superior needs a Board that is receptive to change and ready to seize opportunities to improve our town.
To this end, I also believe we should proactively work to upgrade the town’s assets. Two of our top complaints from residents are around internet and wireless service. Today, the average North American household has 13 connected devices; a recent Gartner study estimated that the typical family home could contain more than 500 smart devices by 2022 – and those devices will gobble up bandwidth. Furthermore, as more of our residents are able to work remotely, we need to provide the infrastructure in Superior for them to do so effectively. Our town is the gateway to Boulder Valley, a major technology center, and we need to ensure that our communications infrastructure can keep up.
Although we didn’t move forward with last year’s initiative to investigate municipal broadband, by putting it on the ballot, we did put pressure on Comcast to upgrade our lines rather than risk losing us entirely – and as a result, we are in the process of getting better service. Now, we need to put similar pressure on AT&T and Verizon to improve cellular service and eliminate dead zones. I am happy that Verizon is looking to partner with Superior to deploy small cell technology that improves cellular performance, and I want to help foster this relationship and encourage other similar partnerships that will improve our connectivity infrastructure – which I believe is just as important as the traditional roads that government oversees.
One thing that has most struck me about our current town proceedings is that many residents don’t know what’s going on until they hear it through the grapevine. As a result of learning about town issues from unofficial sources, they end up misinformed on key issues. I want to see major improvements in both the current communications the town puts out, as well as the exploration of new channels to keep residents abreast of developments and engaged in town decisions.
Although the town publishes an agenda and notes for every meeting, the wording in the agendas often obfuscates the topics being discussed – and most residents don’t click through the links to get the details. I’d like to work with the Town Manager and his staff to improve the clarity of these agendas, and also seek to publish them further in advance of the meetings (even if initial publication is in draft form to be finalized closer to the meeting date). After a meeting, notes should be compiled and published to the town website within one business day – a standard requirement for meeting notes in the private sector. I realize that our Town staff are already quite busy with the numerous tasks on their plate, so I’d like to explore the creation of an internship for local youth to assist in notetaking and communications. The internship would provide an opportunity for a high school / college student to get experience and insight into town government, and could help set their resume apart for college / job applications.
Our town hall boasts excellent equipment for live streaming meetings to the public access channel and the internet. However, many residents are not aware of this capability; furthermore, it remains a one-way channel. Residents can watch the proceedings from their homes, but they can’t participate. I believe that increased resident participation in town meetings will help the Board of Trustees make better decisions for our town, and would like to see us follow Boulder’s lead in allowing remote public comment via phone / WebEx. There are many residents who can’t get to Town Hall for meetings due to family and work obligations, and providing options for them to participate remotely could increase engagement.
Finally, I’d like to figure out how we can meet residents where they are rather than making them come to us. In general, our Town puts a lot of information out there, but we bury it and make it onerous for residents to find out what’s going on. While Thornton is a much bigger city than ours, I love their “Thornton 360” videos – ten minute clips that provide info on what’s going on in town and what the City Council is doing (example here). I don’t think we should spend money on a fully-produced TV program like this, but I’d like to see us leverage social media to create informal two minute videos / recaps of what’s going on. Rather than requiring residents to come to the Town for information, let’s meet them where they already are.
I’d love to hear your views on these and other topics that you believe to be important to our town! Click here to contact me and set up time to discuss.