In the race for four out of nine seats on the Centennial City Council, unofficial results show the projected winners are Amy Tharp for District 1, Christine Sweetland for District 2, Richard Holt for District 3 and Don Sheehan for District 4.
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 was up for election.
There were 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.
The preliminary results are not final. Joan Lopez, the Arapahoe County clerk and recorder, said on social media at 2:49 p.m. Nov. 8 that the county has counted more than 82% of ballots received.
Barbara Setterlind, Centennial’s city clerk, said via email that the votes will be certified by Nov. 29, and the elected council members will be sworn in Jan. 8 during the city council’s first meeting of 2024.
As of 4:06 p.m. Nov. 8, Amy Tharp has received 59.46% of votes in the District 1 race.
Tharp was running against Andrew Spaulding, who received 40.25% of votes, and Norman Olsen, who received 0.29% of votes.
The newly-elected council member will take the place of the current council member, Candace Moon.
In an interview Nov. 8, Tharp said she feels very positive about the election results so far.
“I feel like we did the work we needed to in the community to let them know who I am, and my dedication and my desire to support our community on city council,” she said.
Tharp thinks many voters connected with her because of her longevity in the community and position in the community.
She has had a 36-year career in education, teaching in local schools like Highland Elementary and Field Elementary, she said. Although she has retired, she still substitute teaches.
Tharp said many people she talked with remembered her, and she also had former students who are now voters in the community.
“I feel like everything that I’ve done in my career, in my personal life has led me to this point,” she said.
Tharp said she could not have done it alone. She expressed immense appreciation for the volunteers, friends and family members who helped her, from writing postcards to putting out yard signs and hosting meet-and-greet events.
As a council member, she would be receptive to hearing what people in the community are needing and wanting, she said.
“I want to develop positive and productive working relationships with all the people involved,” she said.
She wants voters to know that she is a dedicated, hard-working person of integrity.
“I am well-known to look at all sides of an issue. To be thoughtful, careful, thorough before I make a decision,” Tharp said. “I put my whole heart and passion into the work that I choose to do, and this is what I have chosen.”
“I’m very, very honored to be given this opportunity,” she added.
As of 4:06 p.m. Nov. 8, Christine Sweetland received 62.65% of votes in the District 2 race.
Sweetland, the incumbent candidate, was running against Rick Rome, who received 36.91% of votes, and Priscilla Rutledge, who received 0.44% of votes.
In an interview Nov. 8, Sweetland said she is optimistic about the election results.
“I have truly enjoyed my last four years on council, and I just really appreciate that the voters … know how hard I work on their behalf,” she said. “Being so far out ahead, it really just warms my heart that they’re – that they appreciate the work that I do for them.”
Sweetland said she worked really hard to get re-elected, adding that she has always been accessible to constituents during her first term.
She said she had amazing volunteers who helped her every step of the way.
Looking to a second term as a council member, Sweetland said a top priority would be housing.
“We’ve spent so much time looking at what we need to do, and I think we’re ready to implement some of those strategies,” she said.
At the same time, some of these strategies will be new for Centennial, she said.
“We have to be willing to evaluate them often,” she said. “We have to really monitor and see if they’re doing what we think that they’re supposed to.”
Another priority is bringing more multimodal transportation to the city, she said.
A third priority is supporting small businesses in Centennial, looking at how the city can highlight its local businesses to encourage people to spend their money locally.
Sweetland also plans to work harder on attending neighborhood community meetings and events to connect with more residents and hear about what they need.
To the Centennial voters, Sweetland said she truly appreciates their support.
“It really does mean the world to me,” she said. “Both times that I’ve run, it’s been grassroots campaigns. It’s been volunteers that have stepped up to … come and help me, and I just really appreciate that.”
“I’m really grateful to the voters for keeping me in office and knowing that I’m doing what they want me to do,” she added.
As of 4:06 p.m. Nov. 8, Richard Holt received 66.06% of votes in the District 3 race.
Holt, the incumbent candidate, ran against Valdan Vandemark, who received 33.94% of votes.
In an interview Nov. 8, Holt said he is happy with the election results so far and is feeling grateful.
“Part of the gratefulness is the love and support that I got from the community,” he said, adding that he has lived in the community for about 22 years.
For his next term, Holt’s priorities include public safety and fiscal responsibility, he said.
“Public safety is job one,” he said, emphasizing the importance of supporting first responders and law enforcement.
Regarding fiscal responsibility, Holt said Centennial is a lean-running city with a lot fewer full-time employees compared to other municipalities.
In 2018, Centennial completed construction of a 50-mile, 432-strand fiber network that “enables both existing and new broadband providers to tie into the new infrastructure,” per the city’s website.
The city offers “dark fiber leases” on its network for the city’s businesses, internet service providers, community anchor institutions and government entities, the city said on its website.
“This represents the golden economic development opportunity for Centennial,” Holt said.
The city has the infrastructure to support businesses that use technology such as augmented reality, telemedicine and even driverless cars, he said.
“We future-proofed our city for the next, at least 10, 15 years,” he said. “I’m very proud of that and I want to keep on guiding that.”
Holt said he would like to thank Centennial voters for entrusting him for another four years.
“I think folks have recognized that I really do put my heart and soul in this job,” Holt said. “The love that I’ve given the city has come back in spades, and I appreciate that.”
“The amount of love and support that I got from not only my neighborhood but the community at large has been overwhelming, surreal,” he added.
There was only one candidate for the District 4 race — incumbent Council Member Don Sheehan. As of 4:06 p.m. Nov. 8, he received 100% of the 4,457 votes.
For his next term, two of his biggest priorities are public safety and the city’s budget.
Regarding public safety, Sheehan highlighted that the city council supported the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office 2024 budget request to add five staff – two patrol deputies, two traffic safety deputies and one investigator.
Offering that funding to help increase staffing is part of the effort to reduce the response time for calls for service, Sheehan said.
Looking at the city’s budget, one of Sheehan’s concerns is that the city’s sales tax revenues are not necessarily going up as inflation goes up, he said.
“Revenues coming in are … increasing but they’re not increasing at the same pace that expenses are,” he said. “What that means is, as a council, we need to be pretty digilent about how we spend our money.”
“If we do anything to expand the government at all, we gotta be very careful about what we do and make sure that we don’t add additional expenses in there that maybe, down the road, we can’t afford,” he added.
He said housing is an ongoing issue, and there are “a lot of gears in motion” regarding housing.
Sheehan thanked voters for participating in the local election.
‘People sometimes, I think, can get frustrated with just the tenor of politics maybe at a national level and they think, ‘Well, I’m not going to participate at a local level.’ But they did,” he said.
“That’s good, and I hope they continue in that way,” he added.
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