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Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
You know her as…Ward III City Council member and small business owner
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5280: Why do you want to be mayor?
Marsha Berzins: I want to be mayor because I love this city. I’m a businesswoman, I understand all about the business sector, I [have been] on City Council for 10 years and I understand what’s going on in this city. And also, I’m a mother of five. I’ve raised my children here, so I know about Aurora, and love Aurora.
If elected, what’s the first thing you’ll do?
I’m going to set up several different task forces. The first one will be for public safety—to address those issues, whether it’s safety in our schools, on our streets, in our homes. And I want to meet with the superintendents of Aurora Public Schools, Cherry Creek Schools, to see how we can work together to get things done for the city.
What sets you apart from other candidates?
My municipal leadership experience. I actually am the only candidate running that is currently on Council, currently know what is going on in the city, have the contacts to get things done. I worked with our former mayor Steve Hogan and he taught me a lot and was a wonderful mentor, and so that really sets me apart. Plus, the family issue: I have the five kids so I know parks, I know streets, I know schools.
What’s something that voters might not know about you?
I think they probably don’t know that I do have the five kids. They probably don’t know that I have been serving Aurora for 17 years. I think that’s probably my top two.
Aurora is one of the state’s most diverse metros—and it is also home to a federal immigration facility that has been the focus of recent protests. How has that impacted the community?
There’s been a huge impact on the community….The fact of the matter is that it is a federal facility trying to do its job. It’s not a perfect place by any means, and we have had many, many discussions about it, and what Aurora could do, what Aurora can’t do. And we started making small steps in trying to protect the citizens of Aurora, say from diseases that break out there. But when it comes down to the root cause, it is a federal facility.
Lightning round: What are your quick thoughts…on growth.
People are coming, and we’re happy to have them. We have to have smart growth, planned growth, and actually we do. People that want to build houses here or bring new jobs into the city go through a rigorous planning process. They have to have studies on water, on lighting, on drainage. I mean, it’s very rigorous, and some people like it and some people don’t, but we have to protect our residents.
…on energy, oil, and gas.
It is a big issue in Aurora. We do have a lot of wells out north and east. They are providing income for a lot of people; providing jobs, providing income for schools. Actually, we have just put into place a very strict set of rules—best management practices—for our oil and gas companies….With the new governor [Jared Polis], he has a new commission called the COGCC [Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission], and they are making stronger, stricter rules, and as soon as those come out, the people drilling in Aurora will have to follow those stricter rules.
…on affordable housing.
Affordable housing is a problem in every city in the nation.…It’s a very hard subject that there is no one particular thing that we can do. So, as your mayor, I would work with those individual developers, those home builders, apartment builders, condo builders, whatever you want to call them to try to get them to see the need of either donating large sums of money to a land trust and let them do the affordable housing, or else trying to get them, to [make] a certain portion of their product as affordable housing.