Gary Hodges for Longmont City Council, Ward 3

Boulder Weekly Questionnaire Responses

Questions for Candidates

Yes/No Questions - Please answer only with yes/no.

1. Are you a homeowner? YES

2. Do you think your City should have a homeless shelter? NO
(I interpreted this question as asking about a City Operated shelter)

3. If the City police force was fully staffed, would you advocate for adding more officers? YES

4. Do you believe there’s a need for more housing? YES

5. Do you believe the City should spend more money on homelessness services? NO

General Questions

Please limit responses to 300 words or less.

1. Why do you want to be a council member?

Longmont is recognized and admired along the Front Range for our water, electricity, and Internet services, and I want to extend and enhance our well-deserved reputation by bringing Diversity of Ideas to our City Council.

2. When was the last time you paid rent, and where was that?

Sept 1998. An apartment complex in Longmont that went by the name of The Orchards when we lived there. It’s now called Advenir at Wyndham.

3. When considering new developments, which is more important: density and affordability or preserving neighborhood character?

Preserving neighborhood character.

4. Boulder County has experienced extreme natural disasters over the last decade, including flooding and wildfire. How do you plan to address these challenges?

The City of Longmont has made great strides in managing the floodplain of the St. Vrain River through the city, so a future event like in 2013 should not have the same devastating impact. I support this important work. My wife and I know about a dozen families and individuals who lost homes in the 2021 Marshall fire. Sadly, some of them were under-insured. Guarding against such a man-caused fire in exceedingly dry conditions with 100 mph winds borders on impossibility. It sounds flippant, but Longmont could include information about encouraging insurance reviews in the City Line publication that arrives with the utility bill. So many who sustained a total loss would be in much better shape today had they been adequately insured.

5. How do you think you stand out from other candidates?

No one currently sitting on City Council, or any of the other candidates, has a science background in both education and career that compares to mine.

6. What question would you ask a fellow candidate on the ballot?

What would you do to address the increasing number of empty storefronts, especially in the north Main Street area?

7. What are your solutions for the growing population of people experiencing homelessness?

About 75% of respondents to the most recent resident satisfaction survey indicated homelessness is a significant or severe problem in our city. It’s clear the public is demanding a comprehensive and durable solution. Quality of life for residents of Longmont is being undermined, and our business community is suffering mightily. The bottom line is urban camping and public drug use cannot be tolerated. We must send a clear message that if our laws are violated, freedom will be lost. In short, any person found camping or using drugs will be detained and then screened for health and shelter needs. Upon release a shelter bed and a treatment plan, if necessary, will be offered, giving the individual a chance to get back on their feet. Refusal of services and they must leave our city or freedom will be lost.

8. What’s your plan for creating more affordable housing in Longmont?

The pursuit of affordable housing should not make housing affordability worse. The biggest problem with this pursuit in my view is it doesn’t relieve a burden, it only transfers it to another group. Taking $1.00 from one person and giving it to another is one thing, but because of intrinsic inefficiencies we actually have to take $1.25 from one to give $1.00 to another. So the burden isn’t merely transferred, we affirmatively shift and expand the housing burden onto another group. This creates the perverse outcome of trapping people in their affordable units, because the market-rate housing climbs in price at accelerated rates. A better way to address housing needs is using thoughtful zoning. I will also support the consideration of higher-rise residential structures that contain a range of floor plans and price points in the downtown and Sugar Mill areas. When neighborhood development is proposed I will advocate for single family starter homes that are in harmony with the surrounding area.

9. How will you address climate change? How do you plan to meet some of the City’s climate goals?

So we’re clear, nothing Longmont does, or doesn’t do, will have any impact on global climate. Anyone suggesting otherwise is selling a fairy tale. Environmental focus should instead be on local issues we can actually have some control over. The city has established a 100% renewable energy goal taking effect in bit more than 6 years. There is ZERO chance all the power consumed in Longmont will come from renewable sources by this date. At this point it’s nothing more than a vanity effort. Our Council and Mayor suggesting it’s possible are selling false hope to the public. Living one’s life using fantasy as a guiding principle is one thing, but setting government policy based on the same is a bad idea. If we arbitrarily shut down our power plants according to the current schedule we will be forced to buy power on the spot market. If this power is generated in Wyoming, Kansas, or some other distant facility, because of line loss it will require more carbon-based energy sources to be consumed than if we generated the power locally. The sensible solution is to continue using our power plant as configured. There are good reasons other than climate goals to reduce our reliance on carbon-based energy sources, but we must be realistic when it comes to something as critically important as is the power the city requires to function. The 2030 100% renewable goal should be extended to something more realistic and potentially attainable.

10. What are your goals for transportation and how will you achieve them?

My Solutions-Based Campaign Platform outlines a number of ideas to advance public transportation in Longmont. At this point it is plainly obvious the train voters thought would come when FasTracks was passed in 2004 will never extend to Longmont, and the residents feel hopeless. Those still demanding the train are clinging to the false promises of the past, and continuing with this pursuit is a wasteful use of city resources. My platform outlines a proposal that will be acceptable to RTD/FasTracks and the majority of Longmont, which will end the 0.4% tax by agreeing to stop pursuing the train. We won’t walk away empty-handed though. As part of this negotiation we will push for more frequent headways to Boulder and Denver, a return of specialty rides to sporting events, and a direct airport run.

What might be my favorite platform idea is to reflect back on Mayor Leona Stoecker’s wildly successful painted goose project from 2002, and use it for inspiration to transform bus stops along Main Street into functional art installations. I would like to see Art in Public Places issue a Request for Proposals from local artists to imagine and design unique and visually appealing bus stops. With low ridership numbers we have to start somewhere, and starting with local youth makes sense. This idea also meshes nicely with a youth-focused program RTD has just started that eliminates fares for ages 19 and under with the express goal of encouraging youth to take advantage of this resource.

11. How do you plan to engage non-English speaking constituents?

As a councilman I will follow all established procedures and guidelines in place for accommodating those residents who don’t speak English.

12. How does diversity factor into your policy making?

I don’t believe any person is less or more capable of functioning in society because of immutable characteristics. Good governance and policy making should be individually neutral so that every person is equally impacted or benefited regardless of any particular trait they may hold. I will not propose, pursue, or support policy that favors or impedes a particular group.

13. How will you reach residents who have different lived experiences than you?

Every resident of Longmont has a different lived experience than I do. I will be accessible as a councilman, and commit to treating all residents with dignity and respect.

14. Rank your top 5 issues in priority.

  1. A pivot on public transportation that benefits all
  2. Make Longmont the safe city we once knew
  3. Energize Longmont’s business environment
  4. Humanly and durably address vagrancy/homelessness
  5. Protect Longmont’s natural spaces from development