Not many people go from thinking about getting into politics to finding themselves on the city council dais without an election, but that's the story of David Kueter, Wheat Ridge's new District 1 …
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Not many people go from thinking about getting into politics to finding themselves on the city council dais without an election, but that's the story of David Kueter, Wheat Ridge's new District 1 councilperson.
“I'd been having some conversations with folks about running for an open council, and when this vacancy came up, it seemed like a good opportunity,” Kueter, a Wheat Ridge resident since 2006, explained. “I was one of three people who submitted applications to fill the open role and was selected by city council to take the position.”
The position was vacated by councilwoman Monica Duran, who won the election to represent House District 24 in the state legislature. Kueter will complete Duran's term, which ends in November. If he then decides to run for reelection, he could run for two additional four-year terms.
We spoke with the city's newest councilperson about his background, why he decided to get involved in the city and what he hopes to work on.
Tell us about your babackground?
DK: I like to say that I round-up to a Colorado native. I was born in Detroit while my dad was in college there. We moved to Colorado Springs when I was about 3, and after bouncing around a bit, we moved to the east side of Denver full time when I was 6 years old.
I attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where I studied Russian linguistics and minored in environmental studies. I took a year off after graduating during which I worked in some national parks, and then went to law school at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Following law school, I found a job with a small water law firm where I worked for 20 years, and now I work at Holsinger Law.
What brought you to Wheat Ridge?
DK: My wife Dawn and I used to live in the Highlands, but it started getting a little too busy for us. We found a farm house on the east side of Wheat Ridge that is more than 100 years old in 2006, so it's really home availability that brought us here.
How did you become interested in civic service?
DK: I've always been interested in transportation issues — I'm a big fan of trains and bicyclists, and that led me to joining one of the RTD customer panels. These panels met monthly and provided us a chance learn about issues facing RTD. I also attended the Transit Alliances Citizen Academy (which is now run by the Denver Regional Council of Governments). Part of that process included doing a project, and mine required I do some advocacy work before the Wheat Ridge council.
I also joined the Wheat Ridge Active Transportation Advisory Team (ATAT) got involved with the parks and recreation department, which got me further into Wheat Ridge politics.
What was the selection process like to fill the open council position?
DK: The main part was a 3-to-5-minute presentation before council, where I talked about my vision and motivation. I talked a bit about how the location of my house brings us into a lot of issues, because we're right across street from Edgewater. This taught me that issues don't just stop at a city border.
I also spoke about the fact that the Ashland Reservoir update has been going on behind our back yard, and how that taught me the process of progress — even when it's with a goal that will be an improvement — can be really disruptive to people's lives.
What issues are looking forward to working?
DK: One big issue for me is civic engagement. The city has a group of very dedicated people that come to almost every council meeting, but I want to make sure we're trying to bring in and engage with the people who don't have the time and energy to sit through a three-hour council meeting. I want them to know they can still have a meaningful impact on our government.
I'm very committed to seeing that our roads and access routes are available and safe to all manners of users. Well-designed streets and corridors are better for all users.
Development is a big issue in Wheat Ridge, and we need to figure out how to balance progress and modernization with the small town feel that Wheat Ridge prides itself on. I'm looking forward to the neighborhood revitalization update council will be seeing soon.
What do you want residents to know about you?
DK: On many levels, Wheat Ridge still has a small-town feel, even though it is landlocked by some larger cities. Because of its size, it affords a better opportunity for the average person to participate meaningfully in government. Also, because of our locale, the decisions we're making can have impact on greater metropolitan area.
I want residents to know I'm always available to listen to what they have to say. Listening to people, even if I disagree with them, is a skill I've developed professionally over the years. You can have a good conversation and can have differences of opinion without all the rancor and accusations of bad faith that we see in the greater political environment.
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