Election 2021: Stephen Barr wants to bring public-service experience to Littleton council

Nonprofit manager says he offers passion for community

For Stephen Barr, community service has always been a passion. 
Barr, who has lived in Littleton for three years, currently serves as program manager for the Community Engineering Corps, a subset of the American Water Works Association that is based in Denver. 
The nonprofit organization provides services for water infrastructure projects for low-income communities across the U.S. 
Before that, he worked on foreign aid projects for major wastewater projects. 
Now, Barr is running for a council seat in District 3 in the city’s mail-in election, seeking to bring his passion for public service. 
“Littleton has become my home,” he said. “My background and my experience … has always been about improving the place that we live.”
Barr said he has for some time been seeking a way to find a bigger platform to help people, and with council he has. 
The city has a host of needs, Barr said, and he believes his ability to bring both technical and public service experience to his community is what will help guide him on council. 
“I work with small town managers and city council members and public works directors as part of my day job,” he said. “But my role is actually to be an interface between the public and the volunteers and the technical work that’s being done. It’s a space where … I can really understand policy, regulation and convey these things in meaningful and accessible ways to the public.” 
As Littleton continues to grow along with the surrounding metro area, Barr said he is eyeing bigger businesses that can help boost the city’s economy and, by extension, lift up its citizens. 
“I think small businesses tend to get painted as the last and only solution to fiscal stability for a city and a government and their budget,” Barr said. “A healthy city budget and income generation comes from a diversity of sources.”
He said he is aware of the risks large businesses can pose to communities when they fail but if Littleton is able to balance its economy with a range of business types, it will continue to thrive.
“Large businesses provide services or commercial opportunities that are not currently accessible in Littleton where our residents have to drive outside our city limits and spend outside our city limits to get the things that they need,” he said. 
One example would be an outdoor recreation outlet, which is something that Barr said would supply a demand from citizens while keeping in line with the city’s personality. 
The prospects of commercial expansion come at a critical time for the city, which placed a question on this year’s ballot asking citizens to raise the city’s sales tax for the first time in almost 50 years. Dubbed 3A, the ballot measure would increase sales tax by 0.75% and is projected to bring in $9 million annually for the city’s capital projects fund, which is set to hit $0 by 2025. This fund pays for vital city services such as infrastructure and maintenance. 
Barr, along with the other eight council candidates, all support 3A passing. And having more business types in the city will only help maintain a sustainable budget, Barr said. 
One contentious flashpoint for development is the proposed sweeping overhaul of the Aspen Grove shopping center. The site’s owners want to build up to 2,000 new residences, create green plazas and potentially raise some building heights. 
Barr said he understands the concern from some community members about such dramatic redevelopment but sees some change as economically necessary, unlike his opponent, Paul Bingham, who has taken a more cautious approach to plans like Aspen Grove.
As he sets his sights on the future of Littleton’s growth, Barr said he would be a beacon of progress if elected to council. 
“I have a passion for moving the ball forward,” he said. “I like to see our city thrive and improve.”
Stephen Barr


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