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A look at South Suburban board candidates

Nine hopefuls vie for three seats with sprawling parks district

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South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, which manages parks, trails, recreation centers and community sports leagues for a vast swath of the south metro area including Lone Tree, Greenwood Village, much of Centennial, Littleton and Sheridan, will hold an election for three open positions on its five-member board on May 8.

The following information is drawn from questionnaires the candidates submitted to South Suburban, which can be found in full at ssprd.org/election.

Jerry Bakke

Jerry Bakke, now retired, has lived in the district for more than 50 years. He worked as a real estate broker and life and health insurance agent. He has served on or been president of numerous boards, including the Denver Metro Seniors Golf Club, several homeowners associations, and Colorado Heartcycle, a nonprofit bike touring club. He has helped organize and lead bike tours around the country, and said he was instrumental in building the bike lane on Mineral Avenue from Broadway to Santa Fe Drive. He said he enjoys exercise, biking, hiking, skiing, swimming, water aerobics, spinning classes, pilates classes, golf, walking and snowshoeing. He and his wife, Diane, have five sons and 12 grandchildren, many of whom are involved in SSPRD activities.  

“My goal in running for the South Suburban Board is to contribute my expertise and knowledge to ensure that each district member has a quality experience that is delivered in a fiscally responsible way,” Bakke said.

He can be reached at jerrybakke@msn.com or 303-887-1250.

Pete Barrett

Pete Barrett moved to the district in 1969. He was an elementary school teacher for four years before going into insurance for 31 years, 25 of which were as an agency owner. He has served on several boards or committees, including the Colorado Soccer Foundation, Colorado Soccer Field Foundation, Friends of South Suburban Election Committee, Littleton Soccer Board of Directors, and several other South Suburban committees. Barrett was co-chair of the 2020 Gold Medal Parks, Playgrounds and Trails Plan committee. He has participated in fundraising, recruitment and election efforts for South Suburban, and said he has helped obtain three grants to support development of Lorenz Regional Park and written support letters for more than 30 other grants. He and his wife have two daughters and four granddaughters.

“My long-term residency and deep involvement with the district provides me a knowledgeable foundation and interest to serve as a board member,” Barrett said. “If elected, I will work for the completion of the projects and plans identified in the strategic plan and ballot initiatives.”

Barrett can be reached at peterjbarrett@comcast.net or 303-378-3962.

Charlie Blosten

Charlie Blosten was the Littleton public works director for 38 years, and retired in 2015. Blosten volunteers as an entry station attendant at Chatfield State Park, and as a trail ambassador at Waterton Canyon. He said he created and managed open space acquisitions in his time with the city, including South Platte Park, the Littleton Community Trail and the Main Street holiday lighting display. He is the vice president of the Littleton Crabapple Trail board of directors, and sits on the board of the Sunset II Homeowners Association. He has previously served as the president of the Day of Caring for Breast Cancer Awareness organization and was a member of the South Platte Working Group and High Line Canal Working Group. He enjoys golf, tennis, biking, skiing and hiking. He said he has attended many SSPRD board meetings and numerous city council, planning commission and regional government meetings. He and his wife Kathy have two adult children.

“My main interest is keeping SSPRD a top-quality parks and recreation district that will continue to enhance the lives of all SSPRD residents,” Blosten said. “I’ve managed budgets exceeding $20 million and I am familiar with revenue and expenditure concerns of governments for the past 40-plus years.”

Blosten can be reached at cblosten@gmail.com or 720-217-8862.

Michael Kohut

Michael Kohut worked as a quality controller for General Motors, and later as a building manager for a Catholic church. He was also the owner of a restaurant and a limousine service, and is currently a part-time bay attendant at a self-service car wash. Kohut volunteers monthly with Habitat for Humanity, and does trail maintenance work with the Colorado Fourteener Initiative. He has also volunteered as a Girl Scout leader and baseball coach, and served as the chairman of the Friends of the Trails group in Lakeland, Michigan; the chairman and organizer of the Belleville, Michigan Strawberry Festival Parade; and as vice president of the Belleville, Michigan Jaycees. Kohut said his recreational activities include downhill and cross-country skiing, mountain and road biking, kayaking, fly fishing, dirt biking, disc golfing, golfing, hiking and climbing fourteeners.

He also said he is a tree caretaker and tree lover, a former full-time RVer, and a “previous golden retriever owner.” He has been married for 40 years and has three adult children. Kohut is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Littleton.

Kohut said he is running “Because I am retired and have the time to devote between my recreational activities.”

Kohut can be reached at 248-807-4748.

Dave Lawful

Dave Lawful is retired from 38 years of program management and system engineering in the aerospace industry. He is the chairman of the Lone Tree Citizens Recreation Advisory Committee, a board member of the Parkside Homeowners Association Service Area Committee, a member of the Walk and Wheel Study Citizens Advisory Board, and the organizer of the Lone Tree Bike to Work Day breakfast station. He has volunteered with the Cub Scouts, Bicycle Colorado, and the University of Colorado South. Lawful said he was an outspoken proponent for ballot measures 4B and 4C in 2017, which helped secure long-term funding for SSPRD.

He said he has been a long-term supporter of expanding the trail marker system to connect the Mary Carter Greenway trail to other area trails. Lawful and his wife Helene have been married for 30 years and have two adult sons.

“I have the experience to provide good stewardship for road ahead,” Lawful said. “There are over $138 million in planned projects to add to and improve South Suburban facilities in the next five years. Appropriate oversight relies on solid project management and planning skills, which I have developed in my private sector career.”

Lawful can be reached at dave@davelforsouthsuburban.com, 303-808-2353, or his website: davelforsouthsuburban.com

Jeff Monroe

Jeff Monroe worked for 30 years in auditing, budgeting and forensic accounting. He has served on finance councils at local churches, where he applied for grants, conducting and organizing fundraising efforts and designing surveys. Monroe and his wife have volunteered in marriage ministry for 35 years. Monroe and his wife have been married for more than 40 years, and have four children and nine grandchildren. They have used South Suburban facilities and programs since 1975.

“South Suburban Parks and Recreation District needs strong leadership in the budgeting and financial areas,” Monroe said. “Planning is essential to ensure that our district can continue to provide the excellent programs already in place and to add programs as needs arise. As your representative, more emphasis will be put into increasing affordable programs for all age groups. Within current resources, using proper budgeting and planning, we can maintain and continue to improve our existing facilities, parks, trails and recreational activities for everybody to enjoy. If we use financial constraint we can add new programs, facilities and trails without asking for increases in taxes.”

Monroe can be reached at jeffmonroe303@gmail.com or 303-773-0834.

Dan Purse

Dan Purse is a small business owner. He is the junior varsity hockey coach for the Heritage High School Eagles, and a lifelong hockey player. Purse was born in Toledo, Ohio and graduated from Cherry Creek High School in 1975. He and his wife Anne raised their two children in Centennial and attended many school board meetings. Purse said he uses South Suburban facilities regularly, walks his dog along the High Line Canal and serves as a hockey coach.

“We who reside within the SSPR district are afforded the opportunity to recreate in and on a collection of parks, recreation centers, pools, ice arenas and trails which are second to none in the metro area,” Purse said. “Serving on the board of directors of SSPRD represents an opportunity to help shepherd South Suburban Parks and Recreation into the future, providing a lifetime of recreational choices for SSPRD residents and guests. As a lifelong ice hockey player and coach, I am very interested in being involved as SSPRD begins the process of replacing the South Suburban Ice Arena with a new state-of-the-art facility.”

Purse can be reached at danannepurse@gmail.com or 303-880-6436.

Susan Pye

Susan Pye is a recently retired international telecommunication technical trainer, who trained staff in countries worldwide. She currently works part time at IKEA. She is the chair of the Centennial Senior Commission and does outreach for the Mobility Ambassador Program, Koelbel Library’s Care Café and Enrichment Committee. Pye is an ambassador for Active Adults Programs and Services. In past years she has volunteered for Project Cure and Developmental Pathways and served as an advisor for Centennial’s Youth Commission. Pye’s recreational interests include walking with her family and rescue dog Bianca, as well as soccer, baseball, football, dance and yoga. Pye and her husband Randy have been married for 39 years and have a daughter and two grandchildren.

“I believe that my leadership experience and my financial, organizational, collaborative, and communication skills will all be of value on the board in serving our residents,” Pye said. “As I seek one of your three votes in this election, I’m honored to be endorsed by a number of south metro leaders, one current and several former South Suburban board members, and numerous fellow volunteers and citizens with whom I have worked over many years.”

Pye can be reached at skypye@comcast.net or 720-261-6671.

Tom Wood

Tom Wood has worked in engineering and construction for 38 years. Wood holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Pennsylvania State University. He is a senior member and past chairman of the Centennial Open Space Advisory Board, and a member of the SSPRD Master Planning Community Advisory Committee, the Gold Medal Planning Committee for Parks and Trails, the Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Board, the Centennial Board of Adjustment, and his homeowners association. He has held roles including soccer and lacrosse coach, YMCA leadership volunteer, Citizens Emergency Response trained neighborhood volunteer and graduate of Centennial 101. Wood’s recreational interests include hiking open space parks, greenbelts and the High Line Canal. He enjoys fishing and kayaking the South Platte River and Cherry Creek Reservoir. Wood and his wife have three children.

“I want to be a board member for SSPRD because I know that I can make a difference,” Wood said. “New bonds and lots of funds have been raised recently for major multi-year building efforts and I think that someone with my specific background and experience can really help. I was directly involved in the SSPRD master planning efforts for the last several years and want to see it done right.””

Wood can be reached at wood3069@comcast.net or 303-721-8412.

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