Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet Leads Groundbreaking Transportation Solutions and Business Growth For South Denver
Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet says the world would be better served with more engineers and fewer lawyers in government.
“Engineers are trained to solve problems,” says Jackie, a trained civil engineer who has served for 16 years in Lone Tree government, first on the planning commission, then on city council before taking the helm. “We don’t, as engineers, get paid for just talking about the problem. You get paid for solving the problem.”
Jackie says she’s been hard at work finding solutions to a rapidly growing Lone Tree. It’s mid-May and the mayor has just finished a busy week of media interviews, public receptions, and final-minute details for the newly opened RTD Southeast Rail Extension. The three new stops along Interstate 25 are the culmination of multi-agency cooperation, and Jackie was at the forefront of organizing support. Lone Tree and local stakeholders committed $25 million out of the $238 million total for the project, which helped secure federal grants to make the project happen.
Since 2005, when Jackie first started on the planning commission, Lone Tree has seen the expansion of Sky Ridge Medical Center, the Charles Schwab service center campus and continued development of the RidgeGate area along I-25 — which have added about 8,500 jobs. In addition, Kiewit Corp. is building a regional headquarters nearby that will add another 1,000. The light rail promise was key to bringing those jobs here, Jackie says.
Lone Tree has also built the Lone Tree Arts Center; annexed the University of Colorado-Denver’s South Campus (the old Wildlife Experience Museum) to bring higher education options to residents; built a new Douglas County Library in Lone Tree and a unique on-demand free shuttle service in partnership with Uber called Lone Tree Link; and expanded recreational facilities and trails. The list of developments and local projects under Jackie’s leadership goes on.
All this is just in time for Lone Tree’s 25th anniversary. “With the city of Lone Tree, it’s an exciting time. A lot of things we’re doing, we’re doing it for the first time. So on the council, we’re always talking about how do we provide the best value to our residents as we can,” says Jackie, who is the third mayor in Lone Tree’s 25 years. “The largest investment we can make in our lifetimes is in our homes. On the council, we ask ourselves ‘How do we make sure we provide value and make this a place people want to invest.’ ”
Jackie’s community service started when she and her family moved to Lone Tree, and she simply wanted to get to know her new community. “There was an opportunity to serve on the planning commission. I had been a civil engineer, and I wanted to get to know my community. So I went in to interview with the former mayor and council members. They asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’ I had no agenda other than I thought I had something to contribute and add value to. It was a good fit for me,” Jackie says.
Jackie is the chair-elect and board member of the Denver Regional Council of Governments, a metropolitan planning organization for the 56 cities, towns and counties in the Denver metro area. She is also the vice chairwoman of the Metro Mayor’s Caucus.
Jackie has been invited to talk to local governments all over the country about what Lone Tree has done through collaboration with industry, other municipalities and regional parks and arts districts to expand services to residents. Jackie says she’s especially proud of the new Lone Tree Youth Commission and a senior program that focuses on living and aging well.
“We’re becoming a strong regional voice,” she says.
Jackie will be up for re-election in 2020 and she says she still has much to offer Lone Tree. “Yes, I’ll run again,” she says. “My husband jokes Lone Tree is my third child. Since my other two are in college I need to keep myself engaged. If I feel I can continue to add value then I will want to continue.”
With all the activity in Lone Tree government, Jackie says she is inspired daily by the people she has worked with and the opportunities that lay before the growing town. Lone Tree was one square mile when it first organized 25 years ago, and now it’s 10.
“Lone Tree had phenomenal first two mayors. We have a really dedicated, innovative staff which is wonderful to partner with,” she says. “I couldn’t ask for better partners on the city council. We don’t always agree but we’re always rowing in the same direction. We don’t have political in-fighting. That’s really exciting.
“I think we are doing things right. We have this saying on the council: Let’s do this the best way, not just the expected way.”
Jackie says one of her strengths has been the ability to work with others. She comes from a large family that moved frequently when she was a child because of her father’s job as a project-manager engineer. She lived in nine different places before she started fourth grade. She’s now lived in Lone Tree for 18 years, the longest she’s lived anywhere, and it’s home.
“Growing up in a family of six siblings, you learn how to work together and I think that was very beneficial for me,” Jackie says. “One of my strengths is the ability to partner and collaborate with others. Those skills where honed at the dinner table and back yard. Now, on the council, I only have to work with four others.”