Aurora City Council Ward V race: Roth faces two challengers in re-election bid

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AURORA | In the race for City Council’s Ward V, voters will see one familiar name and two newcomers on the ballot.

Incumbent Bob Roth, who has served as the ward’s city councilman since he was appointed in 2009, will be the familiar face. Livia Payne and Cheri McElhiney, both first-time city council candidates, are challenging Roth for the seat.

Roth, who works in commercial and industrial electrical construction,  said he would use his next term if elected to ensure a diversity of new housing is built in Aurora as the city grows and the Regional Transportation District’s Interstate 225 light rail line opens in 2016.

With RTD’s Aurora “R” light rail line due to open next year, Roth said it’s imperative for the city to attract different kinds of housing. Right now, all the city’s transit-oriented development station plans include only apartment living.

Roth said he would also use his term, if re-elected, to urge the city’s Public Works department to complete a traffic and mobility study for Heather Gardens residents that has sat unfinished for years.

One of the most pressing issues facing Aurora is growth eastward. Developers are looking to annex  nearly 3,000 acres east of city boundaries that could become residential and commercial development associated with  Denver International Airport.

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Roth said the fact that east metro developers want to be annexed into the city should be viewed as a positive for Aurora.

“With the water system in Aurora, we are in a prime position for growth if that growth makes sense,” he told the Aurora Sentinel. “Getting our water from three distinct basins and having the ability through the Prairie Waters System to use that resource to extinction puts Aurora in a position unlike any other municipality in the region.”

In light of Denver considering whether to allow some marijuana use in bars and other businesses, Roth is said he is not for such a measure.

Roth, who chaired the Aurora’s Amendment 64 Ad Hoc committee, said the committee agreed over a year ago that private clubs for marijuana use should not be allowed in the city. 

Roth said he also supports the city’s use of photo red light cameras, and told the Aurora Sentinel the cameras are working to decrease serious accidents at the busy intersections where they’re placed. He said he also supports the Nexus programs that money from the red light fees goes toward.

More local control over oil and gas drilling is another hot-button issue where Roth said he sides with the state of Colorado.

“Colorado already has the strictest legislation in place to regulate the oil and gas industry of anyplace in the country,” he told the Aurora Sentinel.

Payne works seasonally for H&R Block as a tax preparer and has a Bachelor’s in biochemistry from the University of Washington. She has also served in the U.S. military for 22 years, where she worked as a logistician and as an intelligence officer before retiring in 2013.

Payne said she is OK with Aurora’s annexation, but is concerned about the city providing adequate recreation and cultural services with more growth.

“I live in Aurora but drive to Centennial or Littleton to use their parks instead,” she told the Sentinel. “In general, the infrastructure must be there to support the new communities.” Payne has come out against the city’s use of photo red light cameras, and said they cause drivers to be more reckless in “trying to ‘beat’ the camera.”

Payne said she would take a cautious approach to allowing marijuana in bars and private businesses in the city if the issue came up in the city.

“It would really depend on where they wanted to open them and how many permits would be allowed, and what form the marijuana would take,” she told the Sentinel. “I am not against marijuana, but to me, it stinks and I wouldn’t want to smell it.”

Payne said residents should have more say when it comes to oil and gas drilling and not rely only on state regulations.

“Aurora should insist on retaining all the controls they can at the local level,” she said. “I would rather see Aurora, through its elected representatives or a direct vote, make decisions on oil and gas drilling in the city.

McElhiney, a Developmental Pathways early intervention service coordinator and a licensed social worker, has lived in Ward V with her family for five years. She said she hopes to make an impact on urban homesteading and sustainability in Aurora.