Penn Avenue proclaims candidacy for Ward III seat on Loveland Metropolis Council – Loveland Reporter-Herald

For Penn Street and other lovelanders with disabilities, the first barrier to getting involved in their community may be getting there in the first place.

Penn Street

Penn Street

Approximately 20% of the city’s 110 stops comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Candice Folkers, traffic director for City of Loveland. Another 50% fulfill part of the law and are considered “accessible”.

And although the stops are spread out across the city center, navigating from the interchange on Eighth Street to the heart of the business district on Fourth can be a non-starter for people with mobility and other disabilities, said Street, who is blind.

“If you are in a wheelchair it can prevent you from going downtown,” she said. “When we have services like these that are inaccessible, we don’t include everyone in our community. That is something I would really like to change. “

Starting this fall, Street hopes to stand on the Loveland City Council podium for disabled and minority voters who are running for Steve Olson’s seat on a platform promoting diversity, equality and inclusion.

“We live in a very diverse community, and if you ask the average person, they might not even know,” said Street. “I want to be the voice for people who have no voice. … I have a lot of tenants and a strong Latino population in my community and I feel that they have no voice and I want to be that voice and bring their concerns and needs to the city council. “

At the age of 9, Street was bitten by a rattlesnake. She developed severe complications from either the bite or the drugs used against the venom, which resulted in her losing most of her eyesight.

Today she works as the Development and Outreach Director for the Audio Information Network of Colorado, which provides audio versions of books, newspapers and other printed materials for the visually impaired.

Street said her experience with disability was one of the reasons she sympathized with Karen Garner, a 74-year-old dementia patient whose violent arrest by Loveland police last year attracted international criticism.

Street said Garner’s arrest led her to run for a seat on the council.

“I thought I lived in a community where that didn’t happen,” she says. “When people you should trust and protect you do so much harm to you, I can’t imagine how terrifying that was. She had no voice. “

In terms of improving accessibility, Street said she would encourage the city to expand its network of COLT stops, improve the connectivity of downtown stops, and invest more in ADA compliance.

Street said she would also assist in making phone and email comments on permanent options for members of the city council’s public meetings. The options were introduced in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, lifted last month and restored by a 5: 4 vote last week.

“Sitting and listening to four of our councilors voting to remove this equal access really struck me that something needs to be done,” she said of the July 6th vote.

Street also spoke about increasing the budget of the city’s Human Services Commission, which she previously chaired.

Street said she saw the recent Pride Month and Juneteenth events as “going in the right direction” to promote diversity in Loveland, but said the city should do more to facilitate that programming in the future.

On the subject of growth, she said she would prioritize improving existing development over expanding beyond the city’s current boundaries.

“We need to grow for our economy, but we should be more concerned with where that growth will take place. We only have that much land, ”she said. “Fort Collins is so crowded that the beauty is lost, and I’m afraid that will happen to Loveland. I don’t want us to lose that sense of home, which is why I moved to Loveland. “

Street came to Loveland from Estes Park in 2010 and lives in Ward III with her husband Moses and their guide dog Beethoven.

She is a member of the Loveland Downtown Lions and district governor of Lions Clubs International and serves on the Board of Directors of the Ensight Skills Center.

Incumbent Steve Olson first joined the local council in 2017 as a representative of the city’s southernmost ward. He has already announced that he will run for the seat of Municipality III again in 2021. A second challenger, Vi Wickam, announced his candidacy in May.

The city elections for 2021 will take place on November 2nd.

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