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Rick Gillit, a licensed mortgage broker and real-estate agent, ended his second term on the Englewood City Council Nov. 20. Gillit, who also is an honorably discharged veteran from the Air Force, was recently the mayor pro tem on city council and was first elected to council in 2009 and again in 2013. He ran in the Nov. 7 election seeking the last consecutive term he could serve, but lost to challenger Dave Cuesta. Here are reflections on his time on council.
What do you feel is your best accomplishment in your time on city council?
In 2009, the city was in fiscal turmoil, as many cities were. One of the things we decided as a council at the time was to work on business development. In my two terms, we saw the Kent Place development … and a new King Soopers store on South Federal Boulevard and West Belleview Avenue, with many new stores in the complex opening. The corner of Belleview Avenue and South Broadway was revitalized with the Sprouts location and other businesses opening … We also had all of our new car dealerships like John Elway Chevrolet … completely remodel. All of these brought in millions of dollars (in tax revenue).
What's a story about a citizen you met or interacted with that stuck with you?
There were many stories. They all had different issues but the same theme that they needed their councilmember to assist them in getting things resolved … One major issue was that there were some folks in a neighborhood that was somewhat terrorized by bad-acting neighbors. This was an issue that plagued them for many months, and they were ready for a change. I was able to work with city management and (police) to finally rid these bad actors from the neighborhood. I have had many people (there) thank me for the outcome … I was always committed to ensuring I was available.
What did you learn about your city during your tenure that you might not have known before?
An amazing discovery was that very few residents actually know what is happening with their city government. I learned that our residents want to enjoy their life in Englewood … enjoy our services without really knowing how these services are protected by council and paid for through sales tax. Many folks think property tax is where we get our funds. We only collect about $3-plus million a year (of) our $46 million general fund budget (from property taxes). Our city needs more residents living and shopping in our city to ensure that we collect enough … I have always said, “Buy in Englewood!”
What was your most challenging moment on council? What do you think is the biggest upcoming challenge for the next council?
The sale of the train depot still haunts me to this day. I wish we could have kept that property and used it as our own city museum. To know we sold it and all that land for only $30,000 was deplorable to me. I was on the losing end of that vote! Also, losing our Englewood Fire Department was very difficult for me. I had hoped that we would bring that issue to a vote of the people, but again, I was on the losing end of that 5-2 vote … The city will need to either grow and collect more taxes … or ask residents for a property and/or sales tax increase to ensure services continue.
What would you like to say to your constituents?
It was an honor and privilege to represent you and your needs to the city. As expected, some folks did not get the things they wanted or the way they wanted, but I always focused on the district as a whole and weighed out every decision on what was best for the majority, not just the few … My final words to you are, “Stay engaged!” Make sure you know what is going on, and let your voice be heard! It truly makes a difference! You can still discuss things with me by emailing me at Rick@EnglewoodCitizen.com or calling me at 303-246-4780. Blessings to you!
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