EDGEWATER — The city of Edgewater encompasses less than one square mile of space bordered by Wheat Ridge, Lakewood and Denver. It is home to slightly more than 5,100 people. If you blink, you may miss it as you drive by Sloan’s Lake Park on Sheridan Boulevard.
However, for Larry Welshon, it’s a big part of his existence. So, despite the unlikely odds of victory, he’s thrown his hat into the city council race to make sure the place he’s called home for half his life remains the great city he’s always known.
To win his seat he’s campaigning on a simple platform: “Just Vote One.”
Welshon — who is the lone right-of-center candidate in a non-partisan race with four open seats — is asking voters with whom he shares a philosophy, including registered Libertarians and Republicans, as well as conservative-leaning unaffiliateds, to only vote for Welshon, despite having the ability to vote for four of the five candidates on the ballot.
The idea is that only voting for Welshon takes votes away from the other four, mostly progressive-leaning candidates, for who there appears to be an organized effort, with yard signs for all of the four, plus the incumbent mayor who is being challenged, grouped together around town.
According to Welshon, it gives him a better chance of winning one of the seats.
Welshon, 53, has been attached to Edgewater in some way for nearly four decades since meeting his late wife there in 1983. He raised two children in Edgewater, and he plans to “age in place” there.
“I’ve lived here 26 years,” he said. “I think that puts me in touch with the community. My mother-in-law still lives here. I have great relations with my neighbors, and I have the time to devote to doing the work of the city council.”
In fact, for the past six years, he’s been to nearly every regular meeting, nearly every work session, nearly every council retreat, all the mobility plan meetings, all the sustainability meetings and all the comprehensive plan refresh meetings, he said.
Seeing firsthand how the council has operated, he’s become frustrated with what he calls the “cult of council conformity.”
“In all those years there has been very little disagreement on issues between council members, which I find strange,” he said. “The conformity among the Edgewater City Council is not healthy and it is not normal. I want to get up there and encourage debate on substantive issues between members of the council.”
There are unintended consequences for those actions, he said.
“They are deaf when citizens go up there to speak,” he said. “One of the current council members actually said to me after I and a few others spoke one time: ‘It doesn’t really matter what you think, we are going to do what we want to do.’ The expectation for unanimity on votes on council is so great, the mayor simply doesn’t call for no votes. It’s embarrassing when on the rare occasion a council member does want to vote no, the poor council member has to be like, ‘excuse me, I want to vote no.’ It’s awkward. They have no sense of parliamentary procedure.”
Welshon said his priorities if elected include fighting against the idea of increasing population by using accessory dwelling units, which are small second dwellings on the same grounds as an existing single-family home such as an apartment over a garage, a tiny house in the back yard or a basement apartment.
“But you’re also going to increase the amount of road wear, the amount of police services, etc.,” he said. “While the economy is booming and rosy, we are bringing in lots of money, but if there is an economic downturn and retail goes down, and the same time we’ve increased the population, all of a sudden, we have a problem. We have no other way to pay for the real services provided by the city.”
Edgewater has no city property tax, and is thus mostly dependent on sales tax revenue.
Welshon also wants to investigate why the police have a hard time retaining officers.
But mostly, he wants to make the existing council have debate on issues. He said he may be running his campaign differently than most, including by not asking for donations, but he’s appealing to anyone who wants someone to represent them who has independent judgment and will question the issues.
“I’m not beholden to anyone,” he said. “Edgewater is a great place to live, to shop, to raise a family. If getting on the council doesn’t happen, there is always a next time. I’ll keep trying until I do.”
One thing is for sure, he said.
“At the end of the day, I’m still going to go to the meetings,” he said. “I’m still going to challenge the council. I don’t care. I will still be there. I just would like to be there as a councilman.”