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Council candidate decries vagrancy, transportation woes

Hodges served on transportation board
Gary Hodges vies for city council seat


Gary Hodges, who served on Longmont’s Transportation Advisory Board, is the third and presumably final person to declare his candidacy to fill the at-large vacancy on the City Council.

Hodges is running against former city council member Sean McCoy and activist Mitzi Nicoletti for the seat, which used to be held by current Mayor Joan Peck. The three candidates had until 5 p.m. Monday to file nomination petitions signed by 50 registered city voters filed with the Longmont City Clerk.

“The nomination petition process is closed so the only way for someone to get on the ballot now would be as a write-in candidate and that deadline is Sept. 6th  (technically Sept. 5th but since that’s a holiday the deadline rolls to the following day),” City Clerk Dawn Quintana said via email.

Hodges is a senior associate scientist with the University of Colorado-Boulder in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, and working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

Hodges said he decided to run for city council to tackle issues surrounding vagrancy in Longmont, which is affecting a growing number of businesses and residents.

“I thought it was a big problem, but I'm learning a lot more,” Hodges said via email. “It is a much bigger problem than I had believed. Many businesses, and sadly many residents, are suffering significant negative impacts resulting from the city's permissive stance and/or policies on street living.”

Hodges said he is impressed that Longmont’s “founding fathers” were able to secure ample water rights and to start the Longmont Power Company. The city’s NextLight internet service is another outstanding innovation, Hodges said.

“Following in these footsteps I would like to be an active participant in other innovative accomplishments,” Hodges said. 

His tenure on the transportation advisory board prompted him to consider unique and creative ways to manage traffic.

“I'd like Longmont to be viewed by other Front Range cities as an example to follow. While on TAB, and even while watching more recent Council meetings, we so often arrive at decisions based on what neighboring cities have done,” Hodges said. “This has always driven me a bit crazy. How can Longmont ever truly break-out if we're too often checking to see what others have done first? By doing so we'll merely be an average of other communities.”

He said he was disappointed that some years ago a new signalized intersection was installed for the main entrance at the Village at the Peaks shopping area.  “I thought for sure there would be a right-in, right-out only access there, and then take advantage of existing signalized intersections for exiting left turns,” Hodges said.

The city council, however, voted to put in a signal. “Signal lights cannot be effectively timed when they are spaced too closely, and this signal has exacerbated an already rush-hour clogged section of Hover,“ Hodges said. “This led, I strongly suspect, to follow-on traffic problems on 17th west of Hover and Airport Rd as Boulder commuters sought alternatives to south Hover.”

A 25-year resident of Longmont, Hodges said he’s bothered that there are ready solutions to problems if the city is only bold enough to try them.

“If I'm fortunate enough to be elected I'll look forward to having a voice in the continued growth and development of Longmont,” Hodges said.