Castle Rock, CO

Castle Rock council candidates ID top issues

Mike McKibbin
Douglas County

By Mike McKibbin / NewsBreak Denver / Oct. 18, 2022

[CASTLE ROCK, COLO.] — Five candidates are seeking two Castle Rock Town Council seats in the Nov. 8 general election. Mayor Jason Gray is unopposed for reelection.

In District 3 (eastern portions of The Meadows, Castle Highlands, Red Hawk and the Wolfensberger Road corridor west of Prairie Hawk Drive), Dean Legatski faces incumbent Kevin Bracken.

In the Oct. 7 first campaign finance filing, Legatski reported $6,061 in contributions, $2,817 in expenses, and a $3,244 balance. Bracken listed $1,000 in donations, a $5,500 self-loan to his campaign, $5,272 in expenditures, and a balance of $1,237.

The District 5 race in southeast Castle Rock has incumbent Caryn Johnson facing two challengers.

Johnson's initial campaign finance report included no contributions and $833 in expenditures. Max Brooks reported $1,845 in contributions, $1,019 in expenditures, and a $825 balance. Caryn Ann Harlos reported $1,100 in contributions, expenditures of $761, and a $399 balance.

Candidates asked for non-growth issues

NewsBreak Denver asked each candidate to respond to one question via email:

"Besides growth, what issue do you want to see the town of Castle Rock address upon election to the council? Please be as specific as possible and explain how the town should respond to the issue."

Harlos submitted this response:

"One of the main reasons I ran was because last year, the town council (with one exception) walked lockstep in forcing four new taxes/tax increases onto the ballot. They deceptively labeled the keeping of our (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) money as "without raising taxes." And they refused even to give five minutes to hear about a potential voting reform measure (ranked choice voting) that is immensely popular in Colorado.

"Instead, they tried to force petitioning (the issue onto the ballot) during COVID, which could have put other Castle Rock residents in fear. Their eagerness to raise taxes showed an unwillingness to realize that some of the pushed taxes/increases are either not the proper function of government — even if the proposed spending funds nice things to have — or that these taxes hurt those among us who can least afford it.

"In short, the biggest problem in any town, not just Castle Rock, is the propensity of government to grow rather than keeping to the founding fathers' vision. We have other serious issues such as water availability, but in all issues, I will seek to keep the government as small as possible and the resident as powerful as possible."

Johnson's response:

"Ensuring our police and fire operational needs have a stable revenue source. Half of the money for police and fire operations comes from the general fund (sales tax dollars). In an economic downturn, sales tax revenues take a hit. The downturn means less sales tax revenue to meet other community priorities. These get deferred, like road and park improvements. But we still ensure police and fire are adequately staffed and funded.

"The town receives impact fees from developers, which allows them to connect to existing infrastructure and contribute towards future capital costs for growth-related capital improvements. But those fees can only be used on facilities, buildings, roads, etc. Impact fees also need to accumulate over several years for the town to have close to what it costs to make needed growth-related capital improvements.

"Often when the time comes to build growth-related improvements, there's still not enough money available and this is when the town uses sales tax revenue to bridge the gap between impact fees and capital project costs. It is fiscally responsible to ensure there is a stable revenue source for our police and fire."

Brooks' response:

"Homeless encampments. Douglas County proposed an idea to provide shelters for all of the county's homeless right here in Castle Rock. That was met with indecisive and passive rhetoric from some current council members. The town is experiencing increased homeless camping along our trails and in open spaces.

"There is an ongoing discussion about potentially allowing the rezoning of some property for encampments within the town. I will oppose these efforts every step of the way and oppose any solutions or ideas that will ultimately bring additional homeless populations to Castle Rock from across Douglas County.

"The homeless here in Castle Rock are not displaced families from our town. They are arriving here from Denver and Aurora. We need to partner with those cities and others with the resources (shelters and programs) to provide long-term solutions. Bringing additional population to a strained community like Castle Rock that lacks those resources is a dangerously short-sighted plan.

"I want to replace the town council's existing ideology and public relations-based acronyms with real, actionable, solutions that benefit and protect the residents and businesses of Castle Rock."

Legatski's response:

"While most of our issues can be tied directly to growth, I think the most visible problem facing Castle Rock is how to deal with the homeless population.

"While there is a new partnership between Douglas County and the Castle Rock Police Department to work with individuals, more needs to be done to ensure that Castle Rock does not draw the chronically homeless to live on our streets or under our bridges. Castle Rock does not have the resources to provide the support that these people need and should not offer incentives for the homeless to stay here.

"The first step I would take to try to improve this situation would be to work with the council to create a campaign to discourage people from giving money to panhandlers. If people would like to make a difference, a dollar will go a lot farther when it's provided to one of the many charities that support the homeless.

"Longer term, I would introduce an ordinance banning shelters and camps for the chronically homeless in the town limits. Creating housing will only invite more homeless to come to Castle Rock."

Bracken's response:

"I love Castle Rock and the proof can be found in my voting record. You can review that on the town's web page of recorded council meetings.

"Keeping you safe is a priority. I led the charge to keep homeless shelters out of Castle Rock. We added nine new first responders and approved a dedicated officer assigned to homelessness. I'm currently working with the town lawyer concerning panhandling, "camping" restrictions and protecting our waterways from this activity.

"I voted to fund our police and firefighters and fully support them.

"I proposed zoning that passed to restrict developers with distinct topography (higher zoning than existing homes) next to your home. What does this mean to you? If your home backs up to a development project, the developer now has restrictions based on your single-family home. All developers must now include larger setbacks (buffer zone) from property lines or homes. See my webpage for more.

"I also worked to require developers to include Coloradoscape landscaping in the design of their homes. This will save millions of gallons of water every year and help to protect water for your family. I voted to down zone Dawson Trails by 2,050 homes."

Town council elections are nonpartisan and held in November of even-numbered years, with council seats chosen in alternating years. Councilmembers and mayors are limited to two consecutive 4-year terms.

Comments / 0

Published by

As an editor and bureau reporter, I have won numerous Colorado Press Association and Associated Press awards.

Denver, CO

More from Mike McKibbin

Comments / 0