LONGMONT — In an unexpected rematch, former mayor Bryan Baum filed Monday to run for his former office against incumbent Dennis Coombs.
"I don't think any seat should go unopposed," Baum said. "That's the way our system works best, with competition. It brings the best out in everyone."
The move surprised many, not least because Baum learned on July 3 that his kidney cancer, which was originally diagnosed in 2010, has returned and spread to his lymph nodes. He has been undergoing treatment at the Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado at Denver.
Baum said he was responding well to treatments, an immunotherapy that uses infusions of interleukin-2. He returned home from his most recent five-day round of treatment on Friday, the same day he decided to run again.
"I think I could bring some really good leadership in a time we need it," Baum said. "I feel like I did that before and I'm determined to do it again."
He is a senior wealth manager for Baum Blockhus Wealth Management Services, a firm he owns. He and his wife, Stephanie, have two children, Chase and Brooklynn.
Baum first won election in 2009, defeating single-term mayor Roger Lange. During his two years, the City Council settled several open lawsuits — including a "border war" with the neighboring town of Firestone — and waded into a number of high-profile issues, including the banning of medical marijuana dispensaries and the elimination of an affordable housing requirement for residential developments.
The two years also continued a trend of periodic clashes between council factions, including a number between Baum and then-Councilman Sean McCoy. Both were defeated when they sought re-election in 2011, with the mayoral race lingering for three days before Coombs was declared the winner.
Baum said that once again, the city has several lawsuits that need settling, including one by the state over Longmont's oil and gas regulations.
"I don't know why we're still fighting that (regulations) lawsuit when we just voted fracking out of our city," said Baum, one of seven former mayors who opposed the city's ban of hydraulic fracturing.
Now that the ban is in the charter, he said, supporting it needs to be the council's priority.
"The citizens told us, and that's where our attention needs to be," he said.
He also said he was concerned about the use of tax-increment financing, rather than municipal bonds, to support the redevelopment of the Twin Peaks Mall and that other methods might have given the mall "more of an onus to perform." At the same time, Baum said, the city had to be careful not to stretch its bond capacity too far — though a bond issue to support the rollout of a citywide fiber-optic network would be justified.
"Something like that, which will make us money, is something we need to have," he said. "But some of these other things are hit-and-miss. We need to look at how we're leveraging our future."
Unemployed engineer Jeff Moore jumped into the Ward 2 race on Monday. Before then, only one candidate, Rick Accountius, had declared for the seat; incumbent Councilwoman Katie Witt decided in April not to run for re-election.
Moore has been the president of the Meadowview 7 9 Single Family Homeowners Association since 2007. He has never held a political office.
He first came to Longmont in 1995 from Ames, Iowa, to work for Advanced Forming Technology as a manufacturing engineer. He and his wife, Ingrid, have one grown son.
One of his principal issues, he said, was to get higher-wage jobs into Longmont.
"We don't need more Walmarts," Moore said. "For me, it's about full-time jobs for $15 or $20 an hour versus $7 an hour."
Moore emphasized that he would take the same approach to politics as he did to engineering.
"In the field I'm in, I depend on information to make decisions, rather than think about what I want to believe," he said. "I want to see facts and figures and data and make decisions based on that."
Monday also saw Pauline "Polly" Christensen become the fifth candidate for two at-large seats on the council. She is running against incumbents Gabe Santos and Alex Sammoury and challengers Ron Gallegos and Trisa Baxter.
"There's not enough of a voice for working people and small business on the City Council," said Christensen. "That voice needs to be there."
Christensen and her grown son have lived in "old town" Longmont for 23 years, originally moving back from San Francisco to care for her parents. She is the managing editor and art director for the University of Colorado at Boulder's student catalog and also runs a graphic design business, Christensen and Son Design.
She served on the city's youth services board for three years in the 1990s and has been a precinct leader for 18 years and an election judge for 20.
Christensen said she wanted to make sure Longmont took a good look at how it wanted to grow and what it needed to get there. That included protecting the city's "excellent infrastructure and city services," she said, as well as completing a new one, citywide fiber-optic service.
"That will be wonderful, I think," she said.
As Longmont grows, she said, it also needs to use more of the empty commercial sites it has for development, such as the old Hover Street Walmart or the former Kmart on Main Street.
"Why are we encouraging new land on Hover to be turned into new shopping centers, when we have abandoned property just across the street?" she asked.
Christensen also said she supports the tighter oil and gas regulations the city adopted in 2012, as well as the citizen-adopted ban on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Both city actions have drawn lawsuits.