Air Quality Monitoring Takes Center Stage as New Council Members Sworn In Tuesday Night

By Jennifer Dulles and Jean Lim

Tuesday’s City Council meeting started with a series of presentations of gratitude for the exiting council members and Mayor Ahrens, and the subsequent swearing in of new council members Stan Jezierski (Ward One), William Lindstedt (Ward Two), Jean Lim (Ward Three) , Laurie Anderson (Ward Four) and Heidi Henkel (Ward Five). Council then unanimously voted to elect Guyleen Castriotta as mayor pro tem.

After a brief discussion of other agenda items, the conversation turned to city staff addressing whether the legislative priorities would remain the same and how often the new council desired to meet and address legislative matters for the State legislative session that will begin in January.  City Manager Jennifer Hoffman made it very clear that this would be a critical legislative session, particularly with legislation both taking full advantage of SB19-181 and counter legislation looking to place guardrails on SB19-181 being likely. Council members agreed that regular and timely meetings would be critical to ensuring the new council had an opportunity to be briefed on legislation and to work effectively together to have a presence and voice at the statehouse.

Council Member Castriotta spoke to the need to revisit the city’s spending on lobbying, pointing out that Broomfield budget is often going to firms that represent both Weld County and Broomfield, despite the fact that the two counties are often working for opposite outcomes. It was noted that multiple municipalities, including Denver and Boulder, have pulled their affiliation with and funding for particular lobbying organizations.

As the item of air quality monitoring came to the fore, it was clear the new members of council have a vested interest in ensuring that the program is revisited. According to new Mayor Pat Quinn, “People are getting sick” and he added that we need to understand what chemicals are getting them sick. Council Member Anderson cited a lengthy list of chemicals that need to be revisited to see if they will be adequately measured in Ajax/CSU’s proposed revisions to the air quality monitoring system.  Anderson will be creating a list of the questions that need to be addressed in the coming study session next Tuesday evening by current contractors Ajax and CSU.  Plans are also in process to invite expert Dr. Detlev Helmig of INSTAAR at CU-Boulder and CDPHE Director Kristy Richardson who can bring a toxicology perspective.  Council Member Lim stated that the goal of air monitoring should be not just to inform later public policy but also to mitigate health impacts now, and Council Members Shaff and Anderson read from the original RFP for the air quality monitoring system which stated both goals.  

In a conversation regarding citizen input and ensuring residents who are having clear health effects would be heard, Council Members Lim, Shaff and Lindstedt voiced support for ensuring residents have an opportunity to share their experiences with the council in advance of finalizing changes to the air quality program. Since the Ajax/CSU air quality monitoring contract expires at the end of December, another ordinance with changes to the air quality monitoring system may already be brought forth for first reading on Dec. 3.