County Commission District 3

Responses were not edited for grammar, punctuation, or spelling and were truncated if they exceeded the specified word count.

Candidates are listed in the order they appear on the ballot.

Electra Johnson (D)

  • Contact Information

    E-Mail: electra@saltworkshop.com Website: www.electelectra.com Phone: 719-290-7387

  • What are your qualifications for this position?

    My experience and training as an Architect, Urban Designer and Construction Manager—where I have been in the roles of facilitator, designer & advocate for municipalities, communities & individuals—prepares me for the issues that Commissioners face every day. In managing large infrastructure projects, I have taken on a number of responsibilities: developing implementation strategies; building community consensus; facilitating urban visioning; writing codes & policies; creating smart, sustainable and comprehensive solutions within a budget; etc. This background gives me the tools to work to protect our natural and cultural resources, to convert to clean energy, and to make wise decisions that help bolster our local economy through start-up development & local innovation support. It also gives me the tools to help us think critically and creatively when it comes to developing smart growth strategies and sustainable, regenerative infrastructure systems that will carry us wisely into the future.

  • What are the two most pressing issues facing the county and how will you address them?

    To my mind, the two most pressing issues facing our county are growth management and the mental health crisis. We have not been managing our growth very wisely. We need a long-range, comprehensive plan based on water and related infrastructures. We also need to foster affordable housing options so that we can to begin to manage the homeless crisis. This will require developing transitional and affordable housing options and encouraging developers to undertake housing projects of all types. Developing a thoughtful long-range development plan and fostering public–private partnerships will help us approach this issue wisely. Another pressing issue is our current mental health crisis. Our veterans, our teenagers and our homeless populations are in need of mental health support. This crisis impacts our whole community and it will take some careful thinking to develop programs to support our suffering community members.

  • What should the county's budget priorities be and how will you fund those priorities?

    To guaranty our quality of life we must: invest in our infrastructure; protect our watersheds, trails and open spaces; maintain and improve our roads and highways; and work with the development community to solve the housing crisis through infill. To do these things, we will need to claim our fair share of federal funds for sustainable infrastructure solutions and explore development incentives through smart growth strategies. Capitalizing on our assets and fostering synergies in our land use patterns will enable a robust economy. By fostering local business development, dollars made in El Paso County will stay in El Paso County.

  • Recently the Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing the relocation of refugees to El Paso County. Do you support that resolution - why or why not?

    As a nation of immigrants we must approach human suffering with compassion and kindness, not ignorance and fear. Refugees often come from horrific situations and have gone through a lengthy and extensive vetting process. They often come with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They must be encouraged and enabled to become self-reliant by gaining access to learning English and opportunities to support themselves economically. They can quickly become contributing members of our communities if these options are open and efficient.

  • Nationally, there have been efforts on the part of state and local governments to allow for refusal of service to customers when such service conflicts with the business owner’s religious beliefs. Would you support a similar effort in El Paso County?

    I support religious freedoms, however I do not support efforts that violate the civil rights of our citizens and promote discrimination and hatred.

  • What would you do to bolster systems and increase access to essential county services for traditionally underrepresented and underserved communities, particularly those for whom traveling to the Citizens Service Center is a hardship?

    We need to improve our transit system and make it more accessible. It is difficult to get to/from the CSC without a car, which poses particular problems for low-income, disabled and the homeless citizens—those who are most in need of the CSC. Our transportation systems and our streets are inadequate when it comes to serving our whole community. There are many access barriers, such as discontinuous sidewalks and inadequate streetscapes. Furthermore, alternative transit options that would allow our less able-bodied citizens to function independently—commuting to work, getting to a doctor’s appointment or enjoying recreational options—do not exist.

  • The Pikes Peak Region has yet to fully leverage the strength of its arts, culture, and creative community as a means for tourism, branding, end economic development. How would you utilize your elected office to promote the area as a regional cultural destination?

    Through outreach, advocacy and program development we can bolster our culture and rekindle our creative legacy. By making the arts accessible to a wide range of people, especially our school children, we can educate and inspire. By advocating for our local artists and bringing nationally recognized artists to Colorado Springs we can enrich our culture and facilitate meaningful connections. And by developing and supporting innovative programming we can expose our community to exciting ideas (workshops, public art programs, lecture series). Colorado Springs was once recognized as a bastion of cultural creativity in the South West. It can be again.

  • As a County Commissioner, what would you do to ensure a balance between promoting job growth and sustainable development in El Paso County?

    By transitioning to a sustainable, regenerative economy with clean energy solutions and fostering a business climate that prioritizes local wealth creation, we can begin to solve both issues. Encouraging investment in local innovation will help transform El Paso county into a center of innovation and engineering. This will increase primary job opportunities for veterans and the graduates from our local institutions, allowing them to stay in our communities. Such initiatives—coupled with protecting our open spaces and our watersheds, developing smart fire-protection and storm-water solutions, and supporting local food systems—allow us to become a more independent and sovereign region.

  • If elected, what will you do to enhance and improve collaboration with other government agencies, particularly the City of Colorado Springs?

    I will work to facilitate a more collaborative conversation between our government agencies. By improving communication we can work together to reduce redundancies and create better services for the people of El Paso County (e.g. fleet management & maintenance, parks and open space, etc). This will save money and allow us to develop local and regional initiatives that overlap in productive, rather than redundant or counterproductive, ways. Transparent, open and clear communication between our various government agencies is crucial when it comes realizing our potential to collaborate synergistically.

  • Personal Information

    Education: University of Colorado College of Architecture and Planning / Masters in Architecture /Masters in Urban Design. Colorado State University, College of Applied Human Sciences, Cum Laude Bachelor of Science Interior Design / Construction Management. University Of Colorado- Boulder, Studio Arts Major Occupation: Partner in Architectural and Urban Design Firm, Architectural and urban designer

Stan VanderWerf (R)

  • Contact Information

    E-Mail: stan@stanforcommissioner.com Website: www.stanforcommissioner.com Phone: 719-452-4802

  • What are your qualifications for this position?

    With 28 years in public service and 5 years creating successful businesses, I bring both public and private experience to the County Commissioner position. Leadership qualifications include running large organizations, designing and operating public budgets, designing disaster plans, conducting disaster recovery operations, policy development and implementation, and a host of other leadership skills. I have experience in contracting, program management, industrial engineering (designing efficient processes), human resources, and economic development. I also have a background in business development, public safety, and public services. These are all key Commissioner skills. I am a community volunteer with 3 university degrees well suited to operations improvement and trained in public administration. I also love the outdoors and take every opportunity to hike. I am also a father and husband and am passionate about a healthy community for families and a wide variety of pursuits from sports to arts to manufacturing.

  • What are the two most pressing issues facing the county and how will you address them?

    We have pressing issues in public safety and economic development. Public safety includes vagrancy and homelessness, fire and flood mitigation, and better preparation for natural and man-made disasters. It also includes effective and fair law enforcement to include my interest in establishing a federal courthouse here. We are the largest community in the US without one. Economic development includes infrastructure, improved County service access, road repair/replacement, transportation, quality of life, and good education choices. I have been developing several initiatives in these areas and will introduce them for public discussion as an elected official. They include increased efforts to provide long-lasting reductions in homelessness, re-vitalization downtown to include lower income housing, and a local federal courthouse. Other initiatives include a trade school for beer brewing, better park and trail connections, incentives to grow businesses and jobs, and more. I will work with other public agencies, citizens, non-profits, and other businesses.

  • What should the county's budget priorities be and how will you fund those priorities?

    Budget priorities will focus on the issues above. Our County is solvent and this should be maintained with a balanced budget. We have good credit ratings and reduced tax pressures. Sharing services with other public agencies will save money. Internal process improvements will also help. We should pursue greater return of our tax dollars from State and Federal levels. Tax incentives will grow the economy as they have done at the Springs airport. Economic growth and job training delivers opportunity and reduced dependency on social services. Most solutions require a mix of public and private action, so teaming is important.

  • Recently the Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing the relocation of refugees to El Paso County. Do you support that resolution - why or why not?

    The BOCC did NOT pass a resolution opposing relocation. The resolution only opposes UNVETTED refugees. If properly vetted consistent with current US law, the County Commissioners accept all refugees. This is an appropriate balanced approach between our long tradition of accepting refugees and ensuring our security.

  • Nationally, there have been efforts on the part of state and local governments to allow for refusal of service to customers when such service conflicts with the business owner’s religious beliefs. Would you support a similar effort in El Paso County?

    It is my view County Commissioners do not have the statutory authority to set such a policy. I believe in the Constitution which protects both religious freedom and the right to free association. I ask both sides of this discussion to be sensitive to other's beliefs.

  • What would you do to bolster systems and increase access to essential county services for traditionally underrepresented and underserved communities, particularly those for whom traveling to the Citizens Service Center is a hardship?

    This is an important issue! The County should increase service access to ALL citizens. It IS difficult for some of our citizens to travel to the Citizen's Service Center and bus travel is a multi-hour endeavor each direction. I will pursue several approaches including: a) greater remote access, b) placement of County employees (case workers and others) in key locations on specific days, c) community efforts to transport. Some of these are already taking place. For example, Westside Cares offers county services on specific days in Old Colorado City. I will work to find solutions that fill the remaining voids.

  • The Pikes Peak Region has yet to fully leverage the strength of its arts, culture, and creative community as a means for tourism, branding, end economic development. How would you utilize your elected office to promote the area as a regional cultural destination?

    I agree we have not fully leveraged the strength of our creative community! I am a huge fan of arts, culture, and creativity. In my own way I participate by attending events and helping artists and inventors with my 3D printing company. Creativity is essential for personal enjoyment AND business growth. I have many creative people in my family ranging from theater to music including ancestors who were famous Dutch renaissance painters. I want our arts and culture community to flourish and will work with anyone, regardless of political views, to ensure we have a flourishing and growing creative culture.

  • As a County Commissioner, what would you do to ensure a balance between promoting job growth and sustainable development in El Paso County?

    I am interested in business and job growth but this cannot be unplanned or unstructured. We need to re-vitalize our downtown and include venues for younger people with local services, affordable housing, transportation, and entertainment. These are an important goal for me. Mixed use town centers with appropriate modern zoning will be an important part of making this happen. I also intend on making it easier for businesses and developers to infill. I will also support appropriate state legislation to help. Finally, we must also pay attention to water access and similar concerns to ensure any development can be sustained.

  • If elected, what will you do to enhance and improve collaboration with other government agencies, particularly the City of Colorado Springs?

    I have already initiated this process while a candidate. I have established relationships with officials in several other public officials including City Council, Mayors, County Commissioners, and more. Our community can benefit from a tighter relationship and improved cooperation between the County, Colorado Springs, and other municipalities. I support the cooperation in the PPRTA and other venues where public agencies work together to solve problems. I will participate in those venues.

  • Personal Information

    Education: Bachelors - Industrial Engineering, Masters - International Relations, Masters - National Resourcing and Budgeting Occupation: Small Business Owner, Entrepreneur, Air Force Veteran

This year, all candidates were invited to submit a short video answering the questions:

"What should voters know about you and your aspirations for office?"