Pot firms, developers taking sides in contentious Lakewood election


Lakewood’s municipal election is awash in developer and marijuana cash — two problems that voters in Colorado’s fifth-biggest city have currently taken positions on at the ballot box.

That has some asking yourself if it is an try to pack the Lakewood City Council with members favorable to the cannabis business and a lot more robust improvement in this city of 155,000 on Denver’s western edge.

In 2014, voters rejected a measure that would have legalized recreational pot sales in the city. And this previous summer season, voters authorized a limit on new residential building in Lakewood.

“What issues me is there are efforts to circumvent the will of the men and women,” stated Anita Springsteen, an 11-year resident of Lakewood who helped spearhead slow-development measure Query 200, which became law in July.

She is operating for a council seat in Ward three in the Nov. five election. In addition, 4 other council positions and the mayor’s seat are up for grabs in Lakewood.

Two independent expenditure committees, which are not permitted to coordinate with candidates, collected $72,139 more than a 3-day period this month from almost a dozen marijuana firms and developer interests, such as the Apartment Association of Metro Denver and Ascend Cannabis.

That cash has made a swirl of attack advertisements on the online and in print against Ramey Johnson, a councilwoman operating for mayor, and in favor of her opponent, Mayor Adam Paul.

Paul opposed Query 200, which voters passed 53% to 47% regardless of huge spending against it. This time about, the spending by pro-development and pro-cannabis forces is not focusing on either of these problems but rather on the atmosphere — at least on paper.

An on the internet ad targeting Johnson claims that she opposed the acquire of open space in Lakewood and shared an short article with council colleagues that questioned the human influence on climate transform. She later expressed regret for sharing the story.

Lynea Hansen, the registered agent for each Safeguard Lakewood and Vote Lakewood — the independent expenditure committees with the hefty war chest — stated Johnson is a target simply because she “has shown time and time once more that she is a climate denier and that she does not assistance safeguarding open space in Lakewood.”

When pressed on why cannabis firms would have a specific interest in these problems as opposed to having a toehold in what could be Colorado’s fifth-biggest recreational marijuana market place, Hansen responded: “I do not know quite a few men and women who are not concerned about climate transform.”

Lakewood permits health-related marijuana sales but not recreational sales.

Peter Marcus, a spokesman for Terrapin Care Station, stated his business enterprise gave $five,000 to Safeguard Lakewood partly primarily based on climate transform issues. But he admitted a further motive.

“If one particular day Lakewood decides that it desires adult-use cannabis sales in its city, then we want to make sure that the city’s leadership will not block the will of the men and women,” Marcus stated. “… It is no secret that Ramey Johnson has been opposed to cannabis reform.”

Andrew Hamrick, basic counsel for the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, stated his association gave $9,000 to Safeguard Lakewood for a easy explanation.

“Affordability of housing is a big issue for the metro region,” Hamrick stated. “We’re hunting to assistance candidates that do not assistance development limits.”

The nasty tone of the campaign fueled by outdoors cash, Johnson stated, is driving a wedge in the city’s electorate.

“I feel it has added to the divisiveness in our neighborhood,” she stated. “It poisons the effectively.”

Not that the negativity in Lakewood has been exclusively aimed at Johnson. A much less effectively-funded independent expenditure committee, named Save Our Lakewood, has made flyers against the mayor headlined “Who is the mayor operating for?” — accusing him of becoming also cozy with developers.

Paul has also been the topic of unflattering articles in a neighborhood newspaper named the Lakewood Watchdog. On Friday, a lengthy complaint was filed with the city clerk accusing the newspaper of engaging in electioneering that exceeds protections it may perhaps take pleasure in as a media outlet.

The Denver Post reached out to Watchdog editor Dan Smith and received an anonymous e mail response that study “our whistleblowers, writers and donors are Lakewood residents.”

Huge cash in neighborhood Colorado politics is not new. Two years ago, a pro-oil and gas group gave a lot more than $300,000 to neighborhood campaign committees in north suburban communities to assist get business enterprise-friendly candidates elected. Final week, the Aurora Sentinel reported that a dark-cash group is spending $400,000 on direct mail to assist 5 Aurora City Council candidates.

“Groups backing singular problems continue to be important players in higher-profile campaigns,” Colorado Municipal League Executive Director Kevin Bommer stated.

“Money from groups supporting cannabis legalization, oil and gas (for and against), development and anti-development – to name a handful of – look to be an growing element of neighborhood campaigns, even even though they market problems or candidates independently,” he stated. “It does not seem this campaign cycle will be immune from it all.”

Paul stated he wishes a lot more limitations have been placed on cash in politics but that he and other candidates have no handle more than third-celebration input in the campaign.


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