Littleton community hears from three city manager finalists

Candidates talk infrastructure dollars, growth and development


Littleton community members, during a May 19 event at the Littleton Museum, met with  three city manager  finalists being considered by city council.

Mark Relph, who currently holds the position, will retire June 1. Starting June 2, Police Chief Dough Stephens will take over the role in an interim capacity until a final decision in made.

The three finalists, which city council whittled down from a pool of 77 applicants, all currently live in Colorado and bring years of public service experience from current and past roles in local governments. 

The finalists include Jim Backlenberg, who is the city manager in Evans, Jim Thorsen, the former city manager of Cherry Hills Village and A.J. Krieger, who is currently the town manager of Firestone.

As the city faces growing challenges and opportunities, from managing growth and development to delivering on new infrastructure investments approved by voters through a sales tax increase, all three candidates acknowledged the work ahead. 

"I've been fortunate to work for communities that are larger and smaller than Littleton," said Becklenberg. 

During his tenure, Evans oversaw the passage of a ballot measure that raised the city's sales tax to pay for road maintenance, something akin to the success of Ballot Issue 3A in last November's election in Littleton. 

Becklenberg said he sees 3A's passage, which raised the city's sales tax by 0.75% to pour millions into infrastructure projects, as a key opportunity to make new investments in the city.

"It's all the wind in the sails that I see ... that really makes this the time to be in Littleton," Becklenberg said. 

Thorsen said he understands the tensions at play in communities like Littleton that are undergoing population growth, increased development and are struggling with a lack of affordable housing.

"Those are always challenging issues," Thorsen said. "You've got an existing base that's been here, a lot of them have been here for a long time, that like Littleton in its current format." 

It's something Thorsen said he had to navigate in a previous role as city manager of Malibu, California, where anti-development sentiments were prominent from a vocal minority of residents. 

To remedy such tensions, Thorsen said the city must focus on the issues that matter to residents, such as reducing traffic congestion to ensure the preservation of a "home-town feel."

Krieger said Littleton is the "quintessential Colorado community" as it features urban, suburban and even rural environments coupled with open space and downtown charm.

Krieger said he would like to take Littleton's reputation even further and said the city should be known "nationwide." 

Speaking on issues of growth and development, Krieger said he would seek to have "consensus-building" between city staff and residents on issues that often create division. 

He gave an example of the debate around affordable housing and signaled that he would support maintaining and renovating the city's current housing stock to provide more affordable prices. 

"As a city, I think we've got to be using code enforcement and tools that we have to reinvest in neighborhoods to preserve some of this housing," Krieger said. 

City Council met around noon May 19 for a final round of interviews with the three candidates. A final decision could be made soon. 

You can click here to read more about the three candidates' bios.


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