Water and sewer services in Lakewood are generally not provided by the City but rather by scores of independent water districts run by an elected Board of Directors. In the May of even numbered years there are elections to fill seats on these boards. Ordinarily they don’t generate much interest but the Green Mountain Water District is turning into a battle between the backers of development and those who would like to slow development.
Into this background, waltzes our mayor. Adam Paul took time away from his mayoral duties to help his pro-development political allies by sending out an email to his political supporters urging them to vote for the pro-development candidates running for the water board. To see the mayor’s email message, go to the link at the end of this article.
First, a little background on the Green Mountain Water & Santiation District. Last year (2017) a political battle between members of the board degenerated into a recall election. According to a thread on Nextdoor.com, the water district spent between $89,409 (according to Silvio Cipro, leader of the recall effort) and $106,000 (according to documents from the water district). Some critics are claiming the total expenses were as high as $221,292.09.
According to the Lakewood Watchdog newspaper (May 2018 edition), advocates of slower growth are looking into concerns that water districts might actually be encouraging more development. They note the district keeps asking current users to cut back on water use while at the same time providing water and sewer to new developments. The neighbors argue in order to have truly “sustainable” water management the district must limit new water and sewer taps, especially in the undeveloped areas of Rooney Valley.
These neighbors fielded a “slate” of three candidates (Adrienne Hanagan, Alex Plotkin and Jeff Baker) and two alternates (Mike Muller and Todd Hooks) for the three seats to be filled. This group pooled their money and did some advertising under the name Responsible Water. The five members raised and spent over $1,000 (over $200 per person).
There was one incumbent running for re-election: Silvio Cipro from the fore-mentioned recall effort in 2017. Cipro raised and spent over $300 (from the Secretary of State’s campaign finance website).
Enter a third set of players. Failed Ward 4 City Council candidate Bill Furman’s wife Nikki Mayer, along with her friend Eva Frickle, created a group called Preserve Green Mountain Water to oppose the Responsible Water group. Their effort was supported by Brad Evan’s I Love You Lakewood facebook group. Election observers may remember I Love You Lakewood is the group Brad Evans used to channel donations into the independent expenditure committee Lakewood Voter Information Project, which in turn did mailers supporting Kyra DeGruy in the November 2017 City Council elections.
To support his pro-development political allies Adam Paul sent an email forwarding the Nikki Mayer campaign message to all his political backers (see link below). Furthermore, Paul recommended over fifty of his supporters to the I Love You Lakewood facebook group, swelling it over 100 members. With this backing from Adam Paul and his allies, the Furman/Mayer group mounted an email, facebook and Nextdoor.com effort to get votes for Cipro and two other candidates. It is not clear whether the two candidates backed by the Furman/Mayer and Evans groups are actually collaborating with these groups or are just unwitting pawns in this power struggle between the pro-development advocates and their managed growth opponents.
When the election was over the Responsible Water slate won rather handily: Hanagan – 2,002, Baker – 1,971 and Plotkin – 1,665. The incumbent Cipro came in 6th with 920 votes. The other candidates endorsed by Furman/Meyer came in 4th and 5th place: Yost – 1,173 votes and Todd – 995 votes.
This election marks the latest in a string of electoral defeats for the mayor. It’s hard to fathom why his financial backers keep throwing more and more money his way (see story on the special interests campaign contributions in the 2017 Council election) when he seems to have so little creditability with the voters.
Check out the Paul endorsement. Click here Adam Paul water board endorsement