Four out of nine seats on the Centennial City Council will be up for election Nov. 7.
Centennial, home to more than 100,000 residents, is split into four districts. Each district is represented by two city council members, and one seat in each district is up for election.
There are nine candidates running for the four seats — three candidates in District 1, three in District 2, two in District 3 and only one in District 4.
Seven of the nine candidates gathered for a candidate forum on Sept. 25 that was hosted by the Centennial Council of Neighborhoods, also called CenCON.
Here is a list of candidate websites for Centennial City Council:
Amy Tharp: amytharpforcentennial.com
Andrew Spaulding: andrew4centennial.com
Norman Olsen: Unknown
Christine Sweetland: sweetlandforcentennial.com
Rick Rome: rickrome4colorado.com
Priscilla Rutledge: Unknown
Richard Holt: holtforcentennial.com
Valdan Vandemark: valdan4centennial.com
Don Sheehan: donforcentennial.com
In District 1, there are three candidates: Amy Tharp, Andrew Spaulding and write-in candidate Norman Olsen. The newly-elected council member will take the place of the current council member, Candace Moon.
Both Tharp and Spaulding attended the forum, but Olsen did not.
Tharp, who attended virtually due to being in a different country, said she came to Centennial about 34 years ago to teach at Highland Elementary School.
Given her experience as a teacher and instructional coach, she said she has developed a skill set that is ideal for city council.
If elected, she said she would set up town halls and meet-and-greet events to learn what residents are concerned about.
“I’ve served on every committee possible in an elementary school and continue to serve on various committees in the community and in the schools, where I also serve as a substitute teacher currently,” she said. “I will bring the voice of our community and the voice of educators to the Centennial City Council.”
Spaulding, who is listed as a first vice president of CenCON on its website, said he has lived in District 1 for 31 years and has been a leader in the SouthGlenn Civic Association.
On top of his community involvement, he said his experience in a commercial banking career will be of great value to the city and its budgeting.
Spaulding said he thinks Centennial needs to get back to having a more limited government.
“The city was founded on limited government and limited taxes, but over the years, they seem to grow greater,” Spaulding said. “And I do not believe the citizens of District 1 want that. They want to be left alone.”
In District 2, there are also three candidates: incumbent Council Member Christine Sweetland, Rick Rome and write-in candidate Priscilla Rutledge. Both Sweetland and Rome attended the forum, but Rutledge did not.
Kevin Biehl had signed up to be a candidate for District 2 but later withdrew his candidacy. As a result, his name will appear on the ballot but all votes cast for him will not be counted, according to the city’s website.
Sweetland, who is running for re-election, said she has lived in Centennial for about 22 years and been involved in the community.
Her career as a real estate appraiser has lent itself well to her role on city council given that the council is discussing housing issues, she said.
She said that as a small business owner, she understands how the council can support Centennial businesses.
“I’m passionate about our city. I think we have great things to accomplish,” she said. “And we have a lot of challenges, and I’m up for that.”
Rome, who said he has lived in Centennial for just under half of his life, has been a practicing civil engineer for about 30 years.
He said he has years of experience dealing with infrastructure issues and has worked with cities directly and built relationships across the front range.
Rome is also in the Liberty Toastmasters Club, which he said helps teach public speaking, listening and providing constructive feedback.
“I intend to bring those relationships, those skills that I’ve been building for so many years to the table as a councilman,” Rome said.
In District 3, there are two candidates: incumbent Council Member Richard Holt and Valdan Vandemark.
Holt said he has lived in Centennial for 22 years and has always been involved in the community, such as serving on the Foxridge Improvement Association board.
He has worked in the computer industry for more than 20 years, according to his campaign website.
Serving on the city council has been a fantastic experience, he said, adding that he puts his heart and soul into it.
“It’s kind of cool to find your passion later on in life,” Holt said. “Being on city council, it’s honestly taken about three years to truly find my voice, and I found my voice. And if you will let me, I would love to have that voice run for another four years.”
Vandemark said he moved to Centennial in 2018 and has “managed multiple businesses over the last 15 years in multiple industries.”
He said he went back and listened to the city council meetings for the past couple of years, and there are two things that he is clear on.
The first is that no one on the council thinks about business the way that he does, he said.
“The other thing is that, while my opponent is very well-liked, I will do a better job representing citizens of District 3,” Vandemark said. “And I will be prepared — you can count on me to be prepared, engaged and a team player.”
There is only one candidate for the District 4 race — incumbent Council Member Don Sheehan.
Sheehan said he has lived in Centennial for roughly 30 years.
When Sheehan retired about five years ago from his job in software sales, he began looking for volunteer activities, he said.
He said he became a victim advocate for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and got involved with a city commission. During that process, a then-council member asked him if he would be interested in running for city council.
“We had a long conversation, I ran for city council, and I’ve really never looked back,” Sheehan said. “I’m looking forward to another four years of serving the citizens of Centennial.”