Former Town Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem Bid Farewell
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
It was in with the new guard and out with the former regime in Cripple Creek last week.
Following a highly competitive Nov. 5 municipal election, last Wednesday the official swearing-in occurred for the town’s first new mayor in 10 years and a new Ward Five representative, and the further affirmation of another veteran council member.
The ceremony was mostly capped by a few departing words by incumbent Mayor Bruce Brown and Mayor Pro Tem Chris Hazlett, both of whom couldn’t seek re-election due to term limits. They both have been familiar faces on the council for the last decade.
Brown has actually served as a council member and mayor for 12 years, getting first elected during a tumultuous time in 2007, when the town was heavily divided over an ambitious bid for several multimillion dollar heritage tourism efforts. These projects included the construction of the Cripple Creek Heritage Center on Hwy. 67, which ignited quite a controversy at the time. “That was a tough election,” admitted Brown, who first won a contest against incumbent council member Dennis Peck.
Brown then was appointed as mayor, following the resignation of Dan Baader about two and a half years later, and won the seat during two subsequent elections.
Brown publicly thanked the previous and current town administrators, including Ray White, Ray DuBois and Mark Campbell, along with the current cadre of department leaders. “It made our job a lot easier,” said the departing mayor. “I think we have made a lot of progress.”
His stint as mayor was marked by little drama, compared to previous administrations, when council meetings turned into frequent political showdowns and soap opera-like shows.
He also thanked his family and the residents of Cripple Creek.
But in a familiar style, Brown’s comments were quite brief and non-controversial.
Hazlett, in his departing comments, relayed the same theme. He cited several substantial improvements made under their administration. These included the downtown streetscape project, which the former mayor pro tem described as quite progressive for Cripple Creek. Hazlett also mentioned improvements done in the housing arena.
“We have worked with some great people,” said Hazlett, who owned and operated Ralf’s Breakroom during much of his tenure on the council.
Hazlett also made a special plug for the community and the local residents. “My heart is here,” said the mayor pro tem, who noted that he has lived in the district for most of his life.
Like Brown, Hazlett was first appointed as a council member, and then he won the seat during two consecutive elections, facing little opposition. He actually played a key role in the selection of the last two permanent city administrators, Ray DuBois and Mark Campbell.
Melissa Trenary, a council member and long-time resident, lauded the service done by both elected leaders. Similar comments were echoed by Cripple Creek City Clerk Janell Sciacca.
New Mayor Takes The Oath
The town now has a new mayor. Milford Ashworth officially took the leadership reins of the city during a swearing-in ceremony.
Ashworth won a decisive victory over council member Meghan Rozell, who wanted to see more drastic changes than those proposed by the new mayor.
Ashworth publicly thanked the residents that supported him during the election. In his campaign, he touted the success he achieved during his previous stint on council for eight years, and cited the importance of addressing such issues as infrastructure, economic development and marketing and having a smooth transition.
His victory marked a triumph for the status quo administration, as Ashworth had been a big supporter of the current administrator. Ashworth also had served on a marketing advisory committee.
Tom Litherland, the town’s former mayor, took the oath again as the Ward Four representative. He won a competitive election against challenger Nancy McDonald in convincing style.
The other seat to replace the Ward Five position, held by Hazlett, was filled by Charles Solomone, who recently served on the Cripple Creek/Victor RE-1 School Board. In addition, he has been a key leader of the Teller County Marksmanship and Self-Defense group. Solomone was unopposed in the recent election.
The new leaders took a mostly low-key stance during their inaugural meeting. No comments were made regarding the recent election.
In reports, the city heard updates on transportation grants from Ted Schweitzer, the local transportation director. Among these included a possible bid for recreating an historic, street car, rail system, a vision once envisioned by city leaders in the late 1990s, but never pursued due to a lack of funds. But now more monies could be available from the state and federal governments for such a venture now. However, the timeline for such a project still could be years away from becoming a reality.
Also, accountant Melissa Beaty updated the council on official action to reduce utility rates for senior citizens.