By Eric Heinz
With one vote, Michael Guzman will be the Regional Transportation District’s Board of Director’s District C representative.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced Aug. 1 that none of the candidates for the Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) Board of Directors District C seat had gathered enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
The candidates were Kathryn E. Vandegrift and Guzman, but because Guzman filed as a write-in candidate 110 days before the election, he qualified for that designation.
“While there was no sufficient candidate petition for RTD C, there is one write-in candidate for that race,” Annie Orloff, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office, told The Denver North Star in an email. “So, as long as they get at least one vote, they will be the winner and the next RTD Director for District C.”
For RTD races, candidates have to get 250 eligible voter signatures from their district to be nominated on to the ballot, but neither Guzman nor Vandegrift were able to do so. Guzman is the only candidate who filed as a write-in.
“I’ve always been into public service, but I was also asked to run by community members who knew that the seat was going to be vacant,” Guzman said. “In conversation with them, they thought that I would be a good person to run for that seat, and I said ‘yes.’”
This, if elected, would be Guzman’s first foray on a decision-making board. “I’m from Denver and I’ve ridden the bus with my grandmother since I was a child,” he said. “I take the trains to the airport to other cities, and I’m an avid rider. So that’s my experience with RTD. I’m willing to learn, and I think I bring the perspective of a customer to that board, which is really important.”
The seat will be vacated by Angie Rivera-Malpiede, who is not running for another term. Guzman said he is eager to see how the new RTD chief of police, Joel Fitzgerald, will address safety issues the transportation district has faced, but he also said he wants to address issues that are related to seniors and young people.
“We want to see an increase in ridership, but I also think we need to do some work in communication with the Spanish-speaking community,” Guzman said. “A lot of the workers that I talked to while I was trying to get signatures to get on the ballot were concerned about when routes start.”
Guzman works at the Starbucks at 51st Avenue and Federal Boulevard, and shifts there can start very early in the morning.
“There’s not always a route that runs here early enough to get somebody here on time, so walking is the option if they don’t drive,” he said.
Guzman said he enjoyed the month of no fares on RTD in August, but as cities across the nation mull free transportation services, he said he doesn’t have the answer as to how to make that sustainable.
“I took my cousins that came from out of town all over, and they were excited because they didn’t have to pay for private transportation,” he said.