We recently sat down with Mayor Benjamin Huseman of Commerce City to discuss his recent censure and Commerce City’s host of serious problems.
Here’s Part 1
As previously reported , the Adams County Board of Commissioners have met on several occasions regarding COVID-19 shutdowns and vaccines without notifying the public, a clear violation of Open Meetings Law. While Adams County maintains that no actions were taken at said meetings, discussions about the future of the county are certainly subject to OML.
Mayor Huseman has remained transparent throughout his censure and in the months leading up to the drastic action, and he’s understandably frustrated by city staff’s reluctance to make Commerce City a great place to live. The lack of transparency in meetings that should be public is just one piece of the Commerce City puzzle.
Currently, the city increases by 2000 to 3000 residents per year, but Commerce City’s schools and commercial development are not growing on par with that rise in population. Huseman is frustrated by the fact that the Economic Development Department is not updating numbers on such growth on its website and encouraging commercial development in line with that growth.
He’s understandably frustrated by the fact that many of the city’s ways of doing business seems to be the same as when the city had 20,000 residents, instead of changing to serve the more than 60,000 residents that call Commerce City home.
He wishes that there were more restaurants on the North end, other than fast food chains. He also wants to see more restuarants that cater to residents in the historic part of the city, especially in the Derby Neighborhood that has failed to see revitalization despite years of effort.
Huseman fields many complaints from concerned citizens, as industrialization continues, about truck noise and speeding trucks. In fact, residents in Bonnyview at Aberdeen, near the railroad tracks, will soon experience another industrial park built in their neighbourhood. Residents in that area are concerned about industrial development so close to their homes.
Metro districts in Commerce City also have huge issues, with many residents paying into the taxes but not given representation in the district they pay into. Huseman does not feel that this taxation without representation is fair to Commerce City residents. He has advocated with state representatives and senators to push for Title 32 reform, stating there are over 19 billion dollars in Metro District debt levied on the backs of homeowners across the state of Colorado, and that is unconscionable.
Mayor Huseman wants his city to be great, stating that he loves Commerce City, and that the potential is immense. When he asked the question of city staff, “What have you been doing,” he may have ruffled some feathers in town, eventually leading to his censure.
When asked what he’s done to help Commerce City residents and businesses, Huseman states he’s focused on:
Improving Commerce City’s image by cleaning up the city. He recently made a motion that was supported unanimously by the City Council to focus on these efforts as a partnership between businesses, residents, and the city itself, citing that the city can’t enforce standards when the city itself isn’t in compliance.
The image must be improved to attract new residents and businesses.
Improve public safety. Huseman believes that police, whom he respects and admires greatly, could benefit from more funding, but that funding needs to come from the growth that is occurring, not from increased taxes. He has proposed that the city implement a public safety impact fee to be assessed on the new homes being constructed and placing a burden on the city’s budget.
Through the two points above, via community policing and residents taking ownership, Commerce City can be a safer community that attracts the type of businesses critical to the future of the city.
Marketing must focus on positive growth, commercial growth, and improved safety and cleanliness. When that happens, Commerce City can grow from a stumbling adolescent to a beautiful adult city.
Huseman feels like Commerce City could be one of the greatest cities in the Denver metro area, but its going to take a lot of hard work and digging into the problems to reveal the city’s potential and niche as a residential suburb.
The final part of this interview is coming soon.