Littleton councilmembers sworn in; mayor pro tem chosen

Gretchen Rydin, new at-large rep, to serve as second to mayor

Littleton's new city council officially formed on Nov. 16 after three new councilmembers, along with an incumbent who won reelection, were sworn in. The night also saw the departure of two councilmembers whose terms had expired. 
Kyle Schlachter, who defeated former councilmember Carol Fey and former pastor Jon Buck in the 2021 election, was sworn in as mayor, succeeding Jerry Valdes, who now serves as a councilmember representing north west Littleton's District 2. 
Schlachter's election marked the first time in decades that Littleton voters directly chose their next mayor. In the past, the position has been filled by councilmembers who voted among themselves to choose which member should serve as mayor. 
Joining Schlachter are Gretchen Rydin as an at-large councilmember and Stephen Barr, who represents southeast Littleton's District 3. Patrick Driscoll, who has served on council representing downtown Littleton's District 1, won reelection to his seat and was also sworn in.
With the new council seated, members turned to who should serve as the next mayor pro tem. Kelly Milliman, who represents southwest Littleton's District 4, nominated Rydin while Driscoll nominated at-large councilmember Pam Grove. Rydin ultimately won election to mayor pro tem in a 4-3 vote with Schlachter joining Rydin, Milliman and Barr in voting for Rydin while Grove joined Valdes and Driscoll in voting for Grove. 
Rydin leaned on her experience as a therapist in advocating for the position and said her ability to listen, not just to other councilmembers but to citizens, would be needed for the role. 
“I'm able to handle conflict with professionalism and ease,” she told council. “I'm not afraid of it, I can turn conflict into growth.”
As mayor pro tem, Rydin will be responsible for leading meetings when the mayor cannot and serving as a right hand to council leadership. 
“I look at the role as being a supportive role,” Rydin said in an interview with Colorado Community Media following the vote. “I'm not the mayor, I'm a step in when the mayor's gone or when they need another collaborative partner. And that's really what I want to bring, making sure that we have good cohesion and confidence in each other and professionalism.” 
Former at-large councilmembers Mark Rudnicki, who was appointed to fill a council vacancy in June, and Scott Melin, who served as mayor pro tem during his two-year term from 2019 to 2021, ended their tenures as council members prior to the swearing in ceremony.
Littleton City Manager Mark Relph, during a speech, praised both former councilmembers for their service. 
Relph credited Melin with being a major driver for Ballot Issue 3A's success in the recent election. The proposal raised Littleton's sales tax by 0.75%, securing around $9 million annually to pay for vital city infrastructure projects. 
“Scott, I can remember some conversations you and I had. They were at times tough but I think that they were always frank and open,” Relph said. “It was always about the strategy and how we can figure out 'how do we approach our community' and telling our story, and I will always remember that.” 
Voters supported 3A with nearly 60% of the vote, something Relph said signaled voters' trust and confidence in the city that it would work for them. 
“Every single one of (the councilmembers) need to be congratulated, by you in particular, Scott, the conversations I remember … I think it shaped the outcome and success of that ballot issue,” he said. 
Rudnicki, an architect who has designed commercial buildings and homes across Denver and Colorado, was appointed by council to serve the rest of former councilmember Karina Elrod's term after she vacated her seat in May. Rudnicki served for six months. 
Relph thanked Rudnicki for diving into some of council's biggest decisions, such as passage of the Unified Land Use Code and creation of a downtown historic district, despite his short tenure.
“(With) your background as an architect you certainly have appreciated our (land use) code for more than 18 years and you probably have more insight on that than most people ever would,” Relph said. “I think you were able to bring to the conversation of that particular issue insight that your colleagues were able to lean on.”


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