Jeni Arndt

Jeni Arndt

State Rep. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, who won re-election to her fourth and final term in the House last November, is taking on a new role: mayor.

Arndt won a resounding victory on Tuesday in the race to become Fort Collins' next mayor, defeating two challengers by nearly 40 percentage points. Unofficial results show Arndt with 63% of the vote to 25% for Molly Skold and 12% for former mayor and city councilman Gerry Horak.

Arndt told Colorado Politics the most common question she was asked when she announced her mayoral candidacy was why she would do that when she had just won re-election to the House.

She explained that if she had decided not to run for state rep, that would have been a decision to be made before the pandemic hit. Then the pandemic came and it upended everything, she said. 

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She also had a good friend, Kristen Stephens, running for county commissioner in Larimer County last November. Had Stephens, who was then mayor pro tem of Fort Collins, lost that race she would have been a formidable candidate for mayor. 

When Stephens won the county commission seat, Arndt took a look at who was running for mayor and "decided to ask the voters if they preferred for me to stay [at the legislature] for another year or serve them as mayor."

The timing isn't the best, Arndt said, adding she would prefer a municipal election later in the year. But that's not her choice, she said. "The only thing in my power is to ask the voters and see what they say."

Arndt said she loves the General Assembly, and while many have said they will miss her, memories fade. "We come and we go, and the institution continues on as it should."

She hasn't decided when she will relinquish her House seat yet; there's a small matter of two recount elections for Fort Collins City Council seats that will delay when she actually becomes mayor, probably by a month, she said. 

Being elected mayor is also a financial decision, but not the way some might think. As a state lawmaker, she earns $40,242 per year, plus a non-taxable per diem of $219 per day during the 120-day session that could bring in as much as $26,280. State lawmakers also get benefits such as PERA and health insurance.

As mayor, Arndt will make $14,000 per year. And no health insurance (she'll go on her husband's plan, she said).

A Democratic vacancy committee for House District 53 will pick a replacement once Arndt resigns. 

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