On Nov. 2nd 2021, Westminster citizens voted in three new city councillors, and a familiar face as mayor. New members talk about goals, past experience, and how they hope to change Westminster. …
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On Nov. 2nd 2021, Westminster citizens voted in three new city councillors, and a familiar face as mayor. New members talk about goals, past experience, and how they hope to change Westminster.
The rule Nancy McNally and her husband ‘Mr. Mac’ established in their household for her three children was to nibble on a little of everything until they found their interest.
“Our rule in our house was that you were going to try it for a year, if you don’t like it you don’t have to continue, but you’re going to try it for a year. Just trying to expose (her children) to a little bit of everything,” she said.
Following that rule herself led her to getting involved in her children’s schools. The school offered free music lessons, but the music teacher warned the parents that the program was facing budget cuts.
McNally showed up for her first school board meeting at Lakewood High School, with those cuts on the agenda.
She was the 144th person to speak during that meeting and the clock struck midnight, adjourning the session before a decision on the cuts had been reached. So, she went to the next meeting. And the next. And the next.
In fact, she attended school board meetings for the next six years, only missing six. After that, a board member ending their term recommended she run. She ran for a seat on the board in 2001 and won.
Then in 2004, she ran for mayor of Westminster, won, and won again for the next two terms. Last week was the fourth time she was elected as mayor.
McNally comes to the middle chair with extensive leadership experience, but not only in local government.
For 20 years, McNally worked with the Lutheran Church teaching women leadership skills. She held free classes to help propel women into roles they dreamed of, with many advancing into legislative roles.
She worked with women from Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming and noted that her husband, who worked for CenturyLink for 41 years, was paid $500 to take similar classes she was teaching. When he came home, they compared notes and it was the exact same material. The difference: Nancy was teaching it for free.
“At the time, women weren’t all in the workforce. But whether you’re a soccer mom or a PTA president, there are certain skills you need to lead a group. So we went around and did that. I loved it.”
Now, McNally will lead the City Council with three priorities for the term; Solving the water crisis and hiring a new city manager are her first two. The third is to bring unity among the new council.
“We can learn to not agree and can all still work together because that’s part of life. If we all saw the world in the same way, it would be pretty dull,” she said. “Together we get to the best, not what anyone of us says, it’s together and moving forward with that.”
From Washington State to Boston to St. Louis, Sarah Nurmela, 42, has lived in cities all across the country. After landing in Colorado, she said Westminster ranks the highest among all other places she has set up camp.
“I really love Westminster, obviously, I’ve been here the longest of any other place I’ve lived,” Nurmela said.
Nurmela has lived in Westminster for ten years with her husband of 18 years, and their three daughters aged seven, nine and 13.
Before moving to Westminster, Nurmela earned a bachelor’s in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis, and then graduated with a master’s in urban planning from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
As a city planner, she has worked as a consultant for many different cities in California. After gaining much experience on the West Coast, she headed to Westminster and helped build the first phase of the city’s downtown. As well, she aided with the long-term planning of the city.
Her main goals for the next term focus on the economy and communication between the city and its citizens.
“The first (priority) is to create a more expansive communication pathway between the council, the city and the community. So enhancing our outreach and our community dialogue. The next piece is working towards economic resilience both for our residents, as well as the city. So making sure that we are bolstering our job opportunities, continuing to attract employers and making decisions that set us up for long-term fiscal gain,” she said.
For her ambitious goals and inspiration comes from her family of activists.
“My mother has always instilled the philosophy of challenging yourself, challenging others, and questioning and asking for what is the right thing to do?” she said. “My grandparents out in the bay area were activists and were willing to put their neck out for change and for what they thought was right.”
As to her legacy on the council, she hopes to improve communication, bring in more voices, expand opportunities, and create long-term resilience economically, environmentally and socially for the community.
In 1992, Bruce Baker, 73, and his wife, Charlene, bought a lot in Westminster. Three years later, construction on their home completed and they moved in.
Baker graduated just across the way from Lakewood High School and then from the University of Colorado-Boulder’s pharmacy school.
While at Boulder, he joined the ROTC program and after graduation served in the military for nine years. Three years of active duty as an infantry officer and then five years in the reserves earned him the final rank of Captain.
After his service, he spent most of his adult life as a retail pharmacis, raising his three children, and now six grandsons.
A familiar face on the City Council, Baker was elected in 2013 and 2017 with a primary focus on development. Pivoting focus, now he is looking at water rates within the city. His stance is that rates should be no more than six dollars per a thousand gallons. He believes the past council misled the city of Westminster on the true costs and true challenges of the water system.
“Governments should never lie to their people. Never. You don’t have to look into all the details to know something is wrong. With so many cities around us and on the front range provide water at less than four bucks per a thousand,” he said.
For this next term, Baker’s main priorities are lowering water rates, to stop subsidizing apartment buildings, and to thrift; meaning to spend very little government money.
“If you look at the new downtown, every project there has been given taxpayer money. Over the last five years, we’ve had the hottest real estate market, one of the hottest real estate markets in the nation, and we subsidize people that understand if you have a hot property you get to sell it at an extra price,” he said.
With over 10,000 doors knocked, earning the highest number of small-dollar donations in Westminster’s history, and being the first Nigerian ever elected to Westminster’s council, Obi Ezeadi, 37, won the most votes in the city’s election last week.
Ezeadi was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and raised in New Jersey. He has lived in Westminster for the past six years with his wife and his seven-year-old daughter, Gracie.
He comes to local government with the idea that change comes from community involvement.
“To bring transformative change that creates prosperity for everyone to survive, live and prosper takes jumping into the deep end and getting involved,” he said.
Ezeadi noted that this lesson came from growing up in an impoverished city in New Jersey. Schools in the area were defunded, and he believes the institutions were designed to limit certain communities of people. That fuels his desire for equity.
“It takes money (to run for) city council and being at the table,” he said. “Having a seat at the table to ensure that everyone can get a seat at the table, that’s why I did it.”
Pulling himself up by his bootstraps sparked his passion for speaking for the little guy.
“I didn’t grow up with a safety net,” he said. “My drive is a product from being brought up from nothing. As a result, I bear the weight of responsibility to care for and listen to our most vulnerable.”
For his priorities this term, Ezeadi wants to focus on regaining the trust from the people of Westminster, transforming the way the city performs outreach, and making water more affordable, specifically by establishing a public bank.
Ezeadi points to a public bank to keep money within Westminster’s economic cycle, instead of giving money away to Wall Street Banks. He noted that this can stimulate the local economy, and is socially and environmentally responsible.
With these ideas in mind, leaving a legacy of delivery is his main goal.
“Making sure that we eliminate partisan politics. That we collaborate together as one unit and lead. Each of us needs to lead the charge,” he said.
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