District 2 commissioner reps Greenwood Village, part of Centennial
By Peter Jones
First-term Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Sharpe is back for more.
“I really have enjoyed this job,” she said. “I feel like I’ve made a difference and I want to be able to continue to do that. I feel like I’m making a contribution.”
Sharpe announced her bid for re-election last week in redrawn District 2, which now includes Greenwood Village, a large part of Centennial, an unincorporated chunk of central Arapahoe County and a sliver of south Aurora.
At press time, the Republican incumbent had no Democratic challenger.
The district, reconfigured as a result of the 2010 U.S. Census, still largely favors Republicans, though Arapahoe County as a whole has gradually assumed a near-even split of Republicans and Democrats, with a combination of unaffiliated and minor-party voters leading the county’s registrations.
Sharpe, a former Greenwood Village mayor with local name recognition, is optimistic about her prospects in District 2’s evolving political climate.
“I have a lot of support and a lot of people are very happy that I’m going to be running again,” she said. “Obviously, I need to work really, really hard to engage the unaffiliated voters and get to know them. I did a lot of walking [neighborhoods] in my last campaign and I intend to do that this time. I believe I’ve represented the residents, regardless of party – or no party at all.”
During Sharpe’s first term, the commissioner served the board’s usual mix of legislative and administrative functions, leading board meetings as chair in 2012 and advocating for a range of county ordinances while directly overseeing the Open Spaces, Intergovernmental Relations and Human Services departments.
In the latter capacity, Sharpe has chaired Colorado Counties’ statewide Human Services Steering Committee, lobbying the General Assembly on such issues as child welfare and the now mandatory reporting of elder abuse.
On another front, Sharpe is proud of the county board’s unanimous approval of an agreement that allows oil companies to pay lower fees and fast-track their drilling applications in unincorporated Arapahoe County when they conform to the county’s rules, which often exceed state standards in such areas as noise, water and transportation.
“It ended up being a very collaborative bipartisan vote in the end. I think it’s a model for the rest of the state,” Sharpe said.
The memorandum of understanding was OK’d after commissioners – by a 3-2 party-line vote – nixed a more controversial slate of proposed county-level oil regulations that were staunchly opposed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
In a second term, Sharpe has a range of priorities – from overseeing a program to replenish parts of the Highline Canal with stormwater to ensuring the expansion of Arapahoe Road between Waco and Himalaya streets, in partnership with the City of Centennial.
“We’ve had some challenging issues at times between the county and the city,” the commissioner said. “Centennial is a large part of my constituency and I want to make sure we have really good working relationships.”
Sharpe, 63, also hopes to develop a strategic plan for the county’s aging population, much as Mayor Cathy Noon has tried to develop for Centennial.
“That will be a major issue,” Sharpe said. “I’m really concerned about the impact on our county. How do we work with our partners to help those seniors who want to be independent stay in their homes?”
Sharpe, a onetime professional in the insurance and management-consulting industries, was in her mid-40s when she first entered local government as a member of the Greenwood Village Planning and Zoning Commission. In 1997, she made a successful run for City Council and was elected the city’s mayor in 2003.
“The time was good for me to do something a little different,” she said.
In 2010, Sharpe won a fierce Republican primary battle for the open Arapahoe County District 2 position and later won an equally hard-fought and often embittered race against a Democratic challenger.
Four years later, Sharpe is excited by the progress being made on the long awaited, and now fully funded, redesign of the intersection of I-25 and Arapahoe Road – a project that has been steeped in as much politics and infighting as engineering and project design. Plans call for the work to be finished by the end of 2017, right in the middle of what would be Sharpe’s second term.
“That’s far sooner than I thought,” she said. “That is really good for our traveling public and for economic vitality. I am so glad that I will be able to remember the completion of this – that somebody won’t have to bring me from the nursing home to see it.”