Election 2021: Krista Kafer wants to be a broker for compromise on Littleton council

On homelessness, council candidate favors hard-line stance

Krista Kafer isn't embarrassed to tell you she can be a bit of a nerd. 
A Denver Post columnist, adjunct professor and longtime player in conservative thought and policy, Kafer, 51, has no issue with diving into the minutia of municipal governance. It's why she believes she should earn the votes to become Littleton's next at-large member of city council come early November. 
“I have about 25 years of public policy experience,” Kafer said in an interview with Colorado Community Media. “And (council) would be a great way to serve the place I love.” 
Kafer grew up west of Littleton and has officially lived in the city for 15 years. She spent her early career in Washington, D.C., where she had two stints working for Republican congressmen — Bob Schaffer of Colorado and David McIntosh of Indiana. 
Kafer also served as the senior policy analyst for education at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, where she advocated for charter schools and education vouchers.
She was also named a senior fellow at the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank, and the Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University's think tank, which hosts the Western Conservative Summit. She was a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank.
She now teaches communications, political science and enrichment classes at Regis University and the University of Denver.
As an at-large councilmember, Kafer would be responsible for representing all of Littleton when it comes to her decisions on council. For her, it's about “weighing costs and benefits” and making decisions that directly impact the day-to-day life of residents. Local office is also a breath of fresh air from the more contentious issues that have embroiled statewide and national politics. 
“Municipal law is not all those hot issues,” she said. “It's coming up with 'where should we put this road, how should we handle this traffic solution.'” 
These issues manifest in other places too, like the discussion around unified code and housing development. 
“Yes, people should be able to develop the property they have if they can … but also does the neighbor next door want the neighborhood to become high density?” she said. “Homeowners want different things, they want to be able to use their property in different ways, how do you write it so that most neighbors are happy? It's all those little compromises.” 
But compromise can only go so far for Kafer. 
She has made safety a cornerstone of her campaign and decried what she sees as panhandlers amongst the city's homeless community. She pointed to one recent report that estimates about $481 million is spent annually on anti-homelessness programs such as shelters, emergency responses and healthcare in the Denver metro area. While Kafer said the money is spent by Denver itself, over half of the funds come from nonprofits. Money is also provided by the state and the federal government. A little over 90% of that spending occurs in Denver proper.
Still, Kafer said this means there is more than enough help for those who want it.
“But not everybody wants those services,” Kafer said. “Some people for whatever reason would like to panhandle and urban camp. And here's where you have to have empathy for the other folks that have to live with that decision.”
Kafer, who enjoys walking her dog around Slaughterhouse Gulch Park, said she has several times stepped over needles and trash.
“I think about how kids shouldn't have to step over any of that stuff,” Kafer said. 
Asked whether she would support implementing a camping ban, such as the one that has been long contested in Denver, Kafer had a simple answer: yes. 
But she is also open to waiting until the report from the Tri-Cities Homelessness Policy Group is released before making any policy moves. Though she is concerned about enabling panhandling and littering among the homeless population, Kafer said she is also supportive of programs already in place to get people help. 
“I believe in services … I'm completely there,” she said. “But the person who doesn't want help, who wants to live in Slaughterhouse Gulch and beg on Littleton Boulevard, that's not right. And it's not right for the dignity of that human being to say they can't change.”
Kafer said the urban camping and riots of last year have led to cities like Denver facing “decline.” 
“So I imagine that businesses and customers and homeowners are looking at places like Littleton and saying 'that's where I want to be,'” she said. 
With this, she wants to see Littleton continue to offer a cultural scene as well, and proposed increasing and expanding events at places like Hudson Gardens as well as connecting the Depot Art Gallery with Arapahoe Community College to spur community art classes. 
With less than a month before the election ends, Kafer said she has the ability to guide Littleton in the right direction. 
“I've got the experience to do a great job, and I love people and I love Littleton,” she said. “I want to hear what people have to say, I want to hear about their concerns.” 
“I believe (Littleton's) best days are ahead of us,” she said. 
Krista Kafer, election 2021


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