John Buechner says that contrary to recent reports, he never refused to be interviewed for the Lafayette City Council seat to which he was recently appointed.
He just said he would have to consider it.
Other Lafayette residents in the running for the seat formerly held by Kerry Bensman have expressed irritation that Buechner reportedly declined to be interviewed by council members prior to his appointment last week.
But Buechner told Boulder Weekly that he never actually declined to be interviewed, he just told someone that he’d have to think about it before agreeing to be interviewed. “I’ve said that to a couple of presidencies, too,” says the former University of Colorado president, who has also served as Boulder mayor and state legislator.
He adds that he does not have his eye on any higher office. The council is expected to name a successor to outgoing Mayor Chris Cameron in the next few weeks, but Buechner maintains that he is not angling for that job.
“The ground is not rumbling under my feet for that,” he says. “There hasn’t been anyone who has talked to me about that.”
Still, he says that if the rest of the council wanted him to serve as mayor, he wouldn’t rule it out.
He would just have to consider it. “I’d have to think about that one,” he says. “But I don’t think you’re going to run into that. I think there are probably some people who have served a long time, longer than I have — a week — who would prefer to be mayor.”
Buechner adds that he is not aware of anyone who was upset about him not being interviewed.
“Nobody that’s been mad has talked to me,” he explains.
Asked about his interests in serving on the council, Buechner says he wasn’t solicited by anyone, he just began inquiring about the opportunity on his own because he felt his experience might be valuable. The retired political science professor has spent a significant amount of time in recent years performing consulting work for city councils and other groups around the country.
He recently wrote a book, Who’s Running This Town, Anyway? as a guide for city council members.
“Maybe at this stage I have something to give,” he says of his desire to serve on the Lafayette council.
Buechner, who turns 76 this week, adds that he will probably have to cut back on his other work to make room for the various meetings and committee work involved with council service.
He says he has no particular area or priority that he wants to pursue as a council member, and that he is not being brought in to “fix” anything.
Buechner does say, however, that one of the biggest issues facing Lafayette is redevelopment — the need to boost tax revenue to pay for basic public services. He says he has a lot to learn, despite his wealth of experience in public service.
Buechner served as a member of the Colorado House of Representatives from 1972 to 1974, mayor of the city of Boulder from 1970 to 1971 and member of the Boulder City Council from 1967 to 1976.
Buechner held several faculty and administrator positions at CU, including chancellor of the CU-Denver campus, before being named CU president in 1996. He resigned three years later, saying he no longer felt he had the support of the entire Board of Regents after a Colorado Daily investigation alleged that he was having a romantic relationship with a consultant he had hired, Fran Raudenbush.
Asked whether he still gets asked about the circumstances surrounding his departure from CU, Buechner says, “You’re the first to bring it up.”
One of Buechner’s former critics on the Board of Regents, Jim Martin, told Boulder Weekly that Buechner will be good for the Lafayette council.
“John’s insight into group dynamics and his commitment to organizational development could only help at this time,” he says. “They’re trying, in the private sector, to create jobs, and in the public sector to get the needed revenue to keep their city services and staff, to meet the growing needs of the community. He certainly has the stature. … He is seasoned.”