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At-large candidates square off on guns, homeless

Seat vacated by Mayor Joan Peck

City Council candidate Gary Hodges said he would not vote for any of the gun control measures recently enacted by the Boulder County Commissioners, saying such local laws are going to be struck down in court.

Laws that bar people 21 and under from buying guns and forcing 10-day waiting periods for ownership after a gun is purchased are “not going to fly,” Hodges said during a debate hosted Wednesday night by the Longmont Area Democrats. “The U.S. The Supreme Court has ruled over the years that individuals have a right to keep and bear arms.”

Hodges noted that local governments that have passed similar gun control ordinances are now being sued by gun rights groups. And … ”they are going to lose,” he said.

Hodges is a senior associate scientist with the University of Colorado-Boulder in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He is vying for the at-large City Council seat in November against former city council member Sean McCoy and environmental activist Mitzi Nicoletti.

The at-large seat was left vacant after Joan Peck ran successfully for mayor.

McCoy is a high school government teacher and a longtime fixture in Longmont government. Nicoletti is a past board member for Sustainable Resilient Longmont and advocate for action on climate change.

Nicoletti has been endorsed by Peck and Rep. Tracey Bernett, who represents portions of Longmont in the State Legislature.

Both McCoy and Nicoletti said they would vote for the gun control measures passed by the county commissioners. “As a high school teacher I am sick and tired of lock down drills,” McCoy said. The Second Amendment, McCoy said, “seems to be more important than any other amendment out there for many folks.”

Like the Affordable Care Act, portions of those gun ordinances may be jettisoned by judges. Still, a good portion of the laws will remain on the books.. 

Longmont, he added, is becoming more progressive in a county considered one of the most liberal in the state. “Boulder County is the Berkeley of Colorado,” McCoy said.

Both McCoy and Nicoletti said they would work as team builders to help solve many of Longmont’s problems including creating more reachable housing and sheltering the homeless.

“We need to bring the community into the conversation … because everybody wants a home,” Nicoletti said. “We need to bring in builders and contractors and different groups within the city and county to come up with a solution.”

Both said they would support a permanent overnight homeless facility. “There isn't just enough affordable housing (for the homeless) to transition to,” Nicoletti said.

Hodges said the number of services available to the homeless are adequate and many remain on the streets because there is no real incentive for them to find permanent housing. “We need to take a firm and compassionate approach,” Hodges said. “They can enter the services we offer … if not … we can kindly ask them to leave.”

Correction: Nicoletti's quote in the second to the last paragraph was corrected to state "There isn't just enough affordable housing..."