Candidate Name: Jim Mason District: 1 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://jimmasonforcitycouncil.com/ Phone: 719.321.5820 Education: MS (equivalent), National Security Policy and Military Strategy, US Army War College, MS, Military Arts and Sciences, US Army Command and General Staff College, MS, Personnel Management/Administration, Troy State University BA, Political Science, Knox College Occupation: Colonel, US Army, Retired and Defense Contractor, Retired
I am running for City Council because I think I am the best qualified to represent District 1. My experience and knowledge gained through volunteer service throughout this community provide an acute understanding of the challenges and opportunities confronting District 1 and Colorado Springs, holistically. I think my hands-on work as an elected official with the Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education and service as a Commissioner, Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority Board along with my military success over many years have me better prepared to be an immediate competent legislator. My professional experience matched with over 15 years of community service makes me uniquely qualified for service as a Legislator prepared to team with city leadership towards developing and deciding the best courses of action in addressing current and future work and requirements.
I am a seasoned executive with over 45 years of experience leading and managing people with a proven record of success in operations management, training, and leader development, which has been honed as a senior military leader and defense contractor. A strategic thinker and sound resource manager with experience in building and leading successful diverse multi-disciplined teams, while driving organizational changes necessary to improve planning, preparations, and program management. This coupled with my many years of volunteer work throughout Colorado Springs, in particular, service as an elected Public official with Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education and serving as a Commissioner with the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority Board provide me with unique skills that will allow me to be an immediate impact on behalf of citizens of District 1.
New or infill development initiatives and proposed projects are the biggest issue on the near horizon. District 1 is comprised of old and new residential neighborhoods with many in between, in terms of age. Thus, in the coming years we will be faced with continuing opportunities to decide infill and/or new developments, which will too often require re-zoning considerations. Currently, we are navigating such an infill proposal at 2424 Garden of the Gods. Such proposals and initiatives, by their nature will require a Council vote; and invoke controversy in surrounding neighborhoods and communities. Without question, this evolving circumstance will be our toughest path to navigate. I will address through continuous communications with constituents. We must respect the residents’ thinking and needs, while respecting and acknowledging growth management. Every decision will require an objective discussion grounded with an empathic ear and a visionary mind.
1. First, I will commit and dedicate my energy and experience in representing the People of District 1. I will do so in a competent and empathetic manner while ensuring Colorado Springs remains a safe and secure city with state-of-the-art infrastructure and Services. Moreover, in addition this basic function of representative and legislative service, I will work diligently in continuing current momentum and progress regarding existing infrastructure enhancements and new projects. We must continue 2C. 2. I will work with colleagues and City Leaders to begin renewed efforts for an enhance and equitable public transportation system in terms of availability and transit timeliness throughout the City. A sustainable and accessible Public transportation system is a crucial component of a state-of-the-art capital infrastructure design that includes roads, bridges, stormwater mitigation refinements, Public transportation expansion (light rail, car-pool support mechanisms, and buses). We will re-prioritized General Budget funding lines.
I think Council’s role is to work with and advise the Mayor based on feedback and observations from Citizens of respective Districts. Additionally, Council should form and empower the appropriate Oversight mechanism, based on agreed purpose and Intent of such. Clearly, there is a role for Council in ensuring Law Enforcement exhibits conduct in accordance with approved Standard Operating Procedures and are held to the approved Standards of Conduct. The relentless challenge is in ensuring that both, Citizens and Law Enforcement professionals know what is expected; and Council has emplaced a process for periodic-scheduled review. As for funding, obviously Council must ensure resources are provided commensurate with the mission and Standards.
I think we are moving as fast as our current declared commitment allows. I think we will inherently move faster as we attack our critical hardstand infrastructure needs and public transportation shortcomings. The answer to these two components of an infrastructure network will facilitate renewable energy innovations and transitioning because of technological advancements and the less availability of fossil fuels. As for public engagement…this will be mandatory. We will not be able to acquire the funding required to transition more quickly and completely to renewable energy without the Public’s buy-in and improved education regarding renewable energy innovations and environmental preservation attributes.
I think the city should undertake an active role in partnering with Developers and associated stakeholders to directly increase the availability of affordable housing. I think a broad outline of a viable plan consists of two basic components: 1) Developed tax Incentive programs designed with the purpose of encouraging private developers to increase the supply of affordable housing; and 2) In concert with 1), we will need to deliberately pursue the private sector in forming Public and Private partnerships dedicated to increasing affordable housing numbers. As for the homelessness paradigm. I think a basic plan is comprised of four (4) Stages--- Stage 1: establishing a housing campus complete with tailored services; Stage 2: Rehabilitation program, the process of correcting and extinguishing harmful habits and behaviors; Stage 3: Stabilization practices and regime through a routine ‘life rhythm’ of therapy, work, and personal improvement activities; and Stage 4: Reintegration with family.
I think Citizens' voices are heard and acknowledged by the City leadership and Council. This notwithstanding, I think we all could do better in communicating with our fellow citizens. I think insufficient feedback/communications, is where the perceptions and miscommunications originate from, and then promulgate. Moreover, my experience based on serving with the District 11 Board of Education and the Urban Renewal Authority Board, substantiate that decision-makers do not spend enough time explaining the situation being addressed along with the objectives and goals that require attention, to be successful. Hence, my basic response is that the Council and Mayor should dedicate more time ‘painting the picture’ of upcoming and current decisions under considerations. We must discuss the Who, What, Why, Where, and When, along with citizens’ roles in carrying out the decision. Periodic reviews throughout the process are mandatory.
My basic response without a ‘deep dive’ is this: Council can work with City leadership to determine the feasibility of A). Halting or deferring financial burdens placed on small businesses. Actions to assist with delaying payment of utilities, taxes, and licensing fees. These expenditures during periods of decreased revenue poses a significant threat to small businesses’ abilities to remain open. And B). Council could request additional support from City Staff in providing aid to businesses applying for SBA loans. Research suggests many small businesses could use help in applying for relief, because the magnitude of the work exceeds the capacity of most businesses’ administrative staff. To supplement businesses’ efforts, Council could request the redeployment of City staff/Subject Matter Experts to provide technical assistance to business owners as they apply for SBA loans.
I think essential. The Arts and Music sets the cultural tone for a city, regardless of size. The availability of the Arts exemplifies the overall quality of life its citizens enjoy, thus serves as a ‘calling card’ for increased patronage of businesses and assist in attracting new residents and businesses. I think we should promote and invest, as a City in cultural attractions and venues. I am on School District 11 Board of Education…I know firsthand the benefit and cultural underpinnings of Art, Music, and creativity programs in the enhancement and maintenance of our social and emotional quality of Life.
Candidate Name: Michael Seeger District: District 1 E-Mail: Mikeseegercitycouncil@gmail.com Website: Mikeseegercitycouncil.com Education: Associate’s Degree in Applied Science with a specialization in Paramedicine, Bachelor’s in Communications with a minor in Leadership, Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Occupation: Firefighter/Paramedic
I am running for City Council because this is the city which I have grown up in and have loved for my entire life. I have had the opportunity to serve many communities as a Firefighter/Paramedic but have never had the direct opportunity to serve my own, this is a great opportunity to do just that. I am very passionate about leadership and would love the opportunity to lead my own community and to be the voice of my community.
I have worked in the public sector and as a government employee for the majority of my career. I have sought out every opportunity to become an effective leader, including obtaining my Master’s Degree in Public Administration. I believe that being a younger candidate is a great advantage for myself and for the Community, as it will allow me to shed light on a different point of view and a different perspective of our City and what is right for this Progressive Community.
The biggest issues facing District One are affordable housing and infrastructure. District 1 is not known for having housing that is even remotely affordable for the majority of families, especially younger families. I plan on addressing this by working cooperatively with other council members to create affordable housing in portions of the City which have the most room to grow. Infrastructure is very limited, especially on the West side of District 1, therefore, it is imperative that we come up with creative ways to mitigate the problems with current infrastructure. It will require creative engineering to create new infrastructure that is effective with the minimal space available.
My two top priorities for Colorado Springs are the same two top priorities that I have mentioned for District One. We must invest in infrastructure and affordable housing so that our community can continue to grow in a sustainable fashion. Funding is difficult, especially in the current times due to Covid’s financial repercussions. I plan on funding these projects through alternative sources of income, in addition to budgeted taxpayer funding. As a government, we must find additional sources of income that do not continue to tax the Citizens beyond what they are currently being taxed.
I believe that the City Council is directly responsible for ensuring that transparency, accountability and funding are all properly assessed and dealt with in our city. There is no doubt that law enforcement has been under much scrutiny, including some cases in Colorado Springs. I believe that the development of the committee that oversees law enforcement has been a great asset to our community and I believe that it should continue. We must constantly analyze the effectiveness of these programs and look towards how we can better help our Police Officers, so that they do not enter into such situations or handle them in negative ways.
After meeting with the CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities, I believe that we are doing great in the realm of renewable energy. Colorado Springs Utilities has started the transition towards renewable sources of energy and is already decommissioning the Martin Drake Power Plant sooner than originally thought. We must continually analyze the effectiveness of our resources and be ready to purchase and implement newer technologies as they become affordable, reliable and feasible.
I believe that the city should start to create mutually beneficial partnerships with developers. There are great opportunities to create affordable housing complexes on the eastern side of the city, if we are able to create valuable partnerships that incentivize developers to build these types of housing and to keep rent pricing low. By creating a surplus of housing on the market, we would ideally be able to control the exceedingly high price of housing in the area. As a council member, I would also look into creating more homeless shelters and implement social programs at the shelters that enable homelessness to be resolved in these citizen and provide the needed resources to address the needs of these citizens.
As a Council member, I would push for creation and implementation of software that allows citizens to download an application or visit a website to provide input to Council Members and the Mayor. It is very important to me that our citizens are heard and that their wants and needs are properly addressed. By creating a program that allows them to provide input, we can assure them that they are being heard and that their concerns will be taken care of, if possible. This application will also provide updates as to the issues that are brought up and what is being done to address them.
I believe that this city has done a great job to try to create creative means of allowing small businesses to still operate during the Pandemic. As a Council Member, it would be very important to me to make sure that these small businesses are getting what they need and that the City is doing everything that we can to assist. I believe that we, as a Council, can provide awareness as to the businesses that are in need and what they have to offer to the community, so that their business may once again thrive.
Colorado Springs is a very diverse region that is well known for our arts and cultural sectors. They provide many great inputs into our society and allow for a unique culture that is exciting. Through the arts and these cultural sectors, we are able to create creative means of accomplishing the goals of our amazingly diverse city. It is important to promote arts as they are vital to our local economy in a number of ways. The arts attract tourism and encourage creative freedom in our citizens. This creative freedom leads to financial benefit through creation.
Candidate Name: Glenn Carlson District: District 1, NW Colorado Springs E-Mail: email@example.com Website: www.electglenncarlson.com Phone: 719-661-1583 Education: Bachelors Economics – Colorado College Occupation: Business Owner
I’m running for Colorado Springs City Council because THIS IS HOME. A native, community volunteer, and business owner, I take a great deal of pride in Colorado Springs and the opportunities it has afforded me. I want to ensure current and future generations have those same great opportunities I had by creating a stable economy, robust infrastructure, safe and thriving communities, abundant parks and open spaces, and more. We have much work to do managing the uncertainties of COVID. Having our own business closed down last year, I know exactly how difficult it can be to navigate various restrictions, understand the ever-changing government programs, and taking care of our family of employees. I know the people of Colorado Springs. We are resilient and with the right leadership we will come out of this stronger, but I need your help in getting to Colorado Springs City Council.
As a business owner we need someone, now more than ever, that understands the difficulties of navigating this pandemic. Someone that understands the pain of having your business closed down, having to lay people off, and having to reopen under restrictions. Small business, which represents over 90% of businesses, needs a champion that understands the modern economy, the modern workforce, and modern technology. As a life-long volunteer in the community, I’ve worked tirelessly to promote responsible growth and protection of our parks, for example, by serving on the board of the Trails and Open Space Coalition. I care about Colorado Springs and this is not a post-retirement project for me. COS is my home and I owe it to the city’s future residents to leave it better than I found it.
District 1, which is NW Colorado Springs, does not have wide open development opportunities remaining. Nearly all new projects will be some type of infill project, which means they must be done with respect to affected neighborhoods. A neighborhood has a certain feel and culture to it and it is paramount that we practice responsible, respectful growth.
My top priorities will be working to safely reopen our economy AND adjust and implement our massive zoning update process known as ReToolCOS. Being a business owner and having our own business closed down last year, I know there is much work to be done to assist business in this recovery. This is an area I have valuable experience in and I can “speak the language”. ReToolCOS has the capacity to change how we live and work in major ways. It will dramatically affect current and future development in COS and will influence how our city looks in the future. Everything from residential to commercial will be affected so it will be key to have someone that understands those implications.
I believe we have taken a good first step in setting up the initial commission to better relations between citizens and the police department. I would like to see this play out a little further before we empower the commission further. Police are vital to the safety of the city and its citizens and although not without mistakes, they get it right far more than they get it wrong.
I was ecstatic that we moved up the Drake closure and applaud our utility for acting swiftly to get this into action. A switch to better energy sources is a must, but must also be weighed against the effects on household utility bills. I am confident the cost of renewables will continue to come down, which will allow us to make that decision a more logical one to expedite. In addition, our utility has offered up a “volunteer increase” in your monthly bill to provide energy from renewable resources. We signed up and with the additional $8 fee per month, 100% of our energy in our household is sourced from renewable sources. This is a GREAT way to get people to have an impact and I applaud CSU for this program.
Although I believe this is an area mostly driven by macroeconomic variables such as extremely low interest rates, I do believe there are things we can do to assist. I believe rezoning and ReToolCOS has the potential to impact this in a big way. Creating a more modern, flexible, and simple zoning code will “unlock” potential development in areas that were not possible before and drive down price points. An example is the potential change from R1-6000, which requires a 6000 sq ft plat per home for development, to the R1-2500, which allows for a much smaller footprint. This allows a piece of underutilized land to potentially have a cluster of smaller, less expensive homes to be built. We also need to continue to invest in our public/private partnerships to allow them to do what they do best in the homeless community.
I believe a willingness to provide inclusion and a user-friendly experience are paramount to citizen input. As an example, zoning issues are particularly tricky to navigate, complex, and can be intimidating to most people. That being said, I don’t expect most people to jump into a zoning issue, again as an example, and become an expert. This is why it is important to have representation on council in the form of someone that can come back to a community and have meaningful dialogue about a government issue. I also believe it is wildly important and educational to have citizen participation in the various boards and commissions the city offers.
As the only business owner in my particular race in D1, I have extensive experience in small business. We have multiple locations and many employees. Being closed last year and having to layoff every employee, rehire them, navigate PPP, operate in our new normal, and then push forward was very challenging. Business is a language I speak and I can be a champion for small business in our city. Being able to understand the various challenges and work with businesses to address them locally is something I look forward to. Our small businesses need a voice and flexibility on council as they recover from this pandemic.
I love unique pieces of art and I smile every time I see the humpty dumpty on the wall downtown. I would be an advocate for this, but also understand the budget limitations and tax (TABOR) restrictions on our city. During the pandemic when city budget planners must be cautious, it can be daunting to allocate dollars to anything non-essential. I do believe this can be alleviated by the use of things like metro districts where a locality can have programs outside traditional city-wide responsibilities. I do believe as our demographics change, things like public art will be more valued by the community and implemented.
Candidate Name: Dave Donelson District: 1 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: davedonelson.org Phone: 719-238-9823 Education: BA Political Science/Economics, University of New Mexico BS Physician Assistant Studies, University of Nebraska School of Medicine Occupation: Retired
I am running for City Council to serve the constituents of District 1. My wife, our two week old daughter and I arrived in Colorado Springs 30 years ago. We fell in love with Colorado Springs and started putting down roots. After serving our country for 21 years in the Army and retiring in 2010, I continued to serve our community as a Physician Assistant until 2019. I want to bring my leadership skills learned as an Army officer, problem solving skills learned in Special Forces, and small business experience gained as a Medical Center Director to Colorado Springs City Council.
I have served our country and community in numerous roles and will bring that extensive experience to City Council. I was a trail crew member and Wilderness Guard in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana for two seasons. This gives me first hand experience and insight into matters with Parks, Trails and Open Spaces. I served 21 years in the military as a Russian linguist, Special Forces Medical Sergeant and finally as an officer and Physician Assistant. From those years I bring leadership, and significant medical knowledge. I also have a bond with other veterans. After the Army I served our community as a Physician Assistant and was the Center Director for a Medical Center. I have first hand small business experience from these years. Current District 1 City Councilmember Don Knight has endorsed me due to my integrity, leadership and broad range of experience.
The biggest issue for District 1, as well as for the rest of the city, is the continuing restrictions due to COVID-19. This is adversely impacting our businesses, churches, schools and families. We need to continue to expedite the rollout of the vaccine and make the process for receiving your vaccination as clear as possible. We should also continue with programs to assist restaurants and small businesses as they try to survive these restrictions. Current programs such as sales tax refunds to businesses and refunding of certain fees should be continued. Schools need to be opened back up.
1.Public Safety - This is the most important service that city government provides. It is hard to enjoy our trails and open spaces if you come back to your car and the windows have been broken out and property stolen. Last week when I went to our local pet supply store one of the panes of glass in the door was replaced with plywood. I asked one of the employees what had happened and she informed me that it had been shot out during a fight and shooting in the parking lot. Public safety can’t be second. 2.Infrastructure - After public safety this is the next critical service of city government. Roads, bridges, and other elements of infrastructure are services which constituents rightly expect city government to provide and maintain. They are a fundamental responsibility of city government and are a high priority for families and businesses in our district.
City Council recently established the Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission (LETAC) to examine best practices from other departments and to give citizens a way to make recommendations to City Council on this topic. Funding should continue at a level to provide the citizens of Colorado Springs with the level of security and response they expect and deserve.
I recently met with Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Aram Benyamin and on a separate day toured the Martin Drake Power Plant. Colorado Springs Utilities has a plan laid out in its Electric Integrated Resource Plan to guide the transition from coal power to renewables, with natural gas as a “back up” to the renewables when necessary. As Mr Benyamin pointed out we will always have the ability to cover all our energy needs from fossil fuels when the renewable energy production is insufficient. As the recent events in Texas illustrate - this is a wise policy.
There are no easy solutions to the shortage of affordable and attainable housing. Increasing the supply of apartments, condominiums and homes is the eventual solution to a problem of increasing demand. I support the Mayor’s initiative to build or preserve on average 1,000 units of affordable housing per year. I will work with Steve Posey the HUD Program Manager in Planning and Community Development to find solutions to this problem. I also look forward to learning from and supporting advocates in the nonprofit space such as Kristy Milligan of West Side Cares and Erin McNab of Silver Key. I will work with and listen to nonprofits such as Springs Rescue Mission, and others such as Andy Phelps to help come up with and fund programs to assist the homeless.
I will be willing to listen to various groups ideas on this subject. I think the effort for transparency is present in city government, but perhaps the execution could be better.
The most important thing to be done is to open back up - but that decision is not in the city’s hands. To alleviate the impact on businesses I believe we should continue with programs such as the tax refund for businesses, and forgiveness of certain fees they are charged by the city.
A well-funded arts community can enhance the city in many ways. It can create an atmosphere where residents who have an interest in the arts can find affordable opportunities to share and participate in them. For instance, the Colorado Springs Symphony has a program to provide symphony tickets to young people who otherwise may not be able to afford them. The Springs Fine Arts Center offers opportunities for free visits. A community with vibrant arts should reflect the residents of that community and create an atmosphere where people, especially children, may be exposed to fine art, dance and music.
Candidate Name: Jay Inman District: City District 2 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: Jay Inman for Colorado Springs City Council – Giving Back to our City (jayinmanforcouncil.com) Education: BA in History, MA in History, Certified Microsoft Engineer Occupation: After serving 20 years in the Army, I am currently a Digital Architect at Microsoft
My politics are simple in our increasingly complex city and country: Protect the Innocent, Defend the Defenseless, and Rescue the poor from Wickedness. I am running for City Council in order to apply those in Colorado Springs to utilities stability, opening up our schools, businesses, and churches, and protecting property owners from rezoning or infill efforts that steal property values, and responsibly managing the development and expansion of our city. At the top of that last, diverse electrical generation will be one of our main issues for the next decade. We cannot shut down Drake or leap to unproven electrical generation methods without guaranteeing our city has resilient, reliable electricity as cheaply as possible. That directly protects the innocent and defends the defenseless.
20 years in the Army and building data centers along the axis of the Euphrates River, in Asia, and along the front range give me experiences in logistics, power generation, and electrical resilience. I continue those efforts as a Microsoft Digital Architect serving DOD customers. I mention all that to emphasize that I know I will have a lot more to learn because our city has one of the most complex water and power infrastructures in the nation. A core component of that complexity embraces the four critical military bases our city serves. Half the business of our 2 Billion dollar Utilities business is the Department of Defense and we CANNOT let them down by leaping to unproven electrical generation methods.
We are a Home Rule city in Colorado. We can resist the State government in Denver when their mandates are bad for the citizens of Colorado Springs. This includes opening up our city, businesses, and churches in a pandemic, with over a 99% recovery rate, that is rigged to never end, associating consequences to Marijuana possession, and resisting environmental dictates that actually hinder our desire for diverse power generation. The governor might take some or all of these to court, but let’s have these public discussions, perhaps city ballots on some issues, all the way to the Colorado Supreme court, if necessary. To protect our citizens’ freedom, our churches, citizens’ businesses from the current shutdowns mandated by the Governor, and our families, it is PAST time for our city to flex its muscles as a home rule city in Colorado.
1. The 2020s will be the decade about energy /stable utilities for Colorado Springs. The next decade will see us focus on grid security, grid stability, electricity distribution, and diversity of power generation. The key is to make sure citizens have electricity when they turn on their lights. Colorado Springs Utilities is a long-term business that depends on long term project development, growth, and sustainment. 2. Open up. Leave masks and social distancing to individual choices. Out of 650,000 local and small businesses in Colorado that employed 1.1 million pre-Covid, 30% have now closed their doors permanently. Another third are in serious financial difficulty. Covid has no more impact on the population of the United States than the Hong Kong flu of 1968 and there was no quarantine back then. What we are doing now, requiring masks and restricting schools, churches, restaurants and small businesses in Colorado Springs, is ludicrous.
This is a mixed bag question. On one hand, most incidents could be cleared up by requiring law enforcement to keep their body Cam sensors on when they are on duty. On the other hand, using civilians on an accountability commission who have mostly never been shot at, do not understand rules of engagement for deadly force, and are ignorant of what it’s like to have to change your under-ware after being shot at, is foolish. They make the jobs of our superb CSPD officers harder and are perhaps causing situations where CSPD officers delay or even halt interdiction, fearing for their careers and reputations. We need to put accountability procedures in place that are run by informed individuals, utilizing body Cam sensors, and that reward the 99% of excellent officers protecting our citizens.
This complex issue is highlighted by the decision to close the Drake power plant. We cannot close it today and still have a stable power grid. The question is, “Can we close it on the scheduled date in two years and have a stable power grid?” All possibilities for power generation are on the table as electrification increases to include even cars, but electricity must be generated somewhere. Council must use its utilities authority to ensure the integrity of our power grid, sustain it, and provide power as cheaply as possible to citizens. The lesson we might learn the hard way, in closing Drake too early, is that power our city generates is a lot cheaper than power we must purchase from other municipalities so our citizens can turn on their lights.
There is no such thing as 'Affordable Housing.' Do we have a housing shortage problem? yes. What I want to work toward is helping developers build more houses to drive down costs, that we open our doors to their thoughts and plans, and that we NOT create still more programs we would have to ask voters to fund with more taxes. Let the home builders step up and fill this tier with their imagination and innovation as opposed to blocking them from being part of the solution. Pay and Work must be considered together as citizens purchase homes. Most Affordable housing programs actually separate Pay from Work. This is like raising teenagers with no consequences.
A citizen in District 2 complained that rezoning and infill meetings happen at 8:00 Am downtown on workdays. He was irritated that he seldom gets a chance to voice his opinion. Neighbors should have first voice in rezoning or infill proposals. If neighbors (voters) are opposed, then infill projects should move elsewhere. Voters should pay attention to what city council members are doing to their neighborhoods in rezoning or infill and in this election, if they do not like what council has done, vote for someone else.
So some think. The number one thing we must do is OPEN UP NOW! The January / 2021 Primary Doctor Medical Journal study found that 18% fewer people died nation wide in COVID year 2020 than died in 2019. This is not a pandemic. Further, there were 650,000 small businesses in Colorado that employed 1.1 million Coloradans pre COVID. Today, that small business number is reduced to around 480,000 This is a catastrophic loss of nearly 30% of our small businesses and the jobs of Coloradans. In our city, to truly do something real to help our families, schools, churches and businesses, OPEN UP!
I have a family full or artists but reluctantly think we must hold on these projects. In general, I've voted against anything that raises taxes in Colorado Springs. There are times when taxes must be raised and those discussions must be had. As our city comes out of the flu season, portrayed as a pandemic, we will face serious issues with Springs voters having to start paying on loans and mortgages that were suspended for the COVID crises. People will probably lose homes. As much as I enjoy arts and culture, I absolutely do NOT want to increase tax burdens on families and businesses recovering from a year of tough times. We must turn to the innovation and imagination of commercial efforts to support the arts.
Candidate Name: David Noblitt District: 2 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: davidnoblittforcouncil.com Phone: 719.338.5610 Education: AA Fire Science Occupation: Firefighter
I believe in the core tenants of my campaign. Accountability: I believe you represent the people who send you to do just that, represent them, not yourself. This is not being accomplished now. Public Safety: Nobody running for this position understands this issue more than I do as we are NOT keeping pace with our growth. Responsible growth: That we are running ahead of ourselves in our business, housing, utilities and infrastructure that has been artificially inflated. That the core responsibilities of government are not keeping pace with and for the sake of our community.
I have been an ardent study of our city while living in the district that I represent for almost 30 years. I have worked along side almost every department within the city from Human Resources, to Finance and budget, to public safety, City Council and the executive branch. I have watched our city transform over 35 years, and not necessarily influenced well, and in ways that have taken away from what it was when I moved here in 1985. I understand the power structure in this city, and what it will take to ensure that our future is considered and planned for when making decisions. We need to stop reacting to short sighted and impulsive influences for the short term benefit of a few.
Growth: That the expansion of the district is NOT inline with either the community that lives here, or adheres to the plans developed by the city supposedly for the best interest of all. That rapid development does not consider the ability to provide the basics of reasonable infrastructure, public safety, or multi-model transportation. The answer is simple. Hold the development of the district accountable to the provided plans by the city. To stop the rapid expansion of the city before understanding the impact to the communities that are affected by it as well as the current residents of the city. To address the community development plans that have been ignored currently and to be able to maintain the support of the districts infrastructure and design. To make sure that we have the resources, both structurally and naturally, to support any future growth.
Growth and infrastructure. We have to get a rein on our incentive packages that steal away millions of dollars of revenue from our general fund. We are a destination now, we need to stop giving tax breaks and development designations in thriving places to benefit small segments of our community that the funds apply to. We need to support all of our businesses, and know that those that invest in the Springs typically will stay through thick and thin. Our infrastructure; from roads, traffic management, cleanliness of our beautiful city, public safety, resource management. It honestly does not seem like anyone from downtown actually gets out into the city to see what is going on.
They will need to focus on providing the resources necessary to support the police department so that we can expand, interact and understand the problems that our community faces as a whole. LETAC is a nice start, but will be limited in its ability to help the department move into the neighborhoods and actually have dialogue to find and provide answers unless the department has the appropriate resources.
CSU is doing fine in running in that direction ahead of planned or required CO reductions. I am more of the thought that the citizens might be interested as to why their utility bills will be going up so much and why we actually ended up moving faster than originally planned; and where that motivation actually came from.
The homeless issue should stay with the agencies that have worked tirelessly and effectively in the mediation of such. We do need to enforce both public and private land issues to deter the development of unhealthy and destructive behaviors that impact not only the direct areas of encampment, but the ecology and environment of our water ways and city as a whole. One area of affordable housing could be addressed by infill projects that focus on zoning changes from commercial to multi-family. We have areas of blighted retail that has great access to transportation, shopping and resources. We need to look at what the most advantageous plan would be for the city, not simply contributing to specific areas of town to benefit a few.
This is a tough issue as most of the people who are truly interested are those who typically are to be directly affected either positively or negatively by the issues. From the make up of the boards that I have seen, we have way too much influence from those people who stand to benefit from outcomes. Encouraging participation by citizens can be difficult, but it’s necessary to truly find a balance in the outcomes of the plans that we have an affect us all. In working at good communication, using social media platforms, and routinely informing your constituents may help in bringing more people to the table who would then have an understanding of what is going on and where they can plug-in.
We are a home rule city. Why would we apply state wide mandates upon our businesses when we should have followed what would be appropriate for our community. The County led in many ways the efforts to stabilize the business environment. In that, the city lagged behind in implementing those measures that continued to drag out the opportunity for our local businesses to open quicker. I would work to move quicker and more independently while directly engaging the small business leaders in understanding their needs and moving to support them better.
Spencer Penrose wanted Colorado Springs to be the best place in the west to live. Both Spencer and Julie Penrose supported the arts and brought and supported the development of culture that stands with us still today. The arts attract and contribute to our cities tourism, and the local art scene is growing from the downtown area outward. The struggle typically is to get the messaging to the citizens, to have participation that will lead to engagement, that leads to support that continues to grow what was envisioned in the early 1900’s. I believe it is critical to maintain that culture for our city, the difficulty is finding the funding from the city to support that given what we struggle with currently in the budget.
Candidate Name: Dave Geislinger District: 2 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: dave4cos.com Phone: (719)229-8569 Education: Bachelor of Science/Juris Doctorate/Catholic Deacon Formation Program Occupation: Hospital Chaplain and City Councilor District 2
Over the last three years, Colorado has experienced a period of unprecedented acknowledgment, respect within the national and even international communities, growth and prosperity. This is due, in large part, by the willingness of this city Council, of whom I am an intra-goal part, along with the mayor and city staff, to both tackle long neglected needs, and to pursue long ignored opportunities. Well we can all justifiably be proud of what we have accomplished over the last four years, as it contributes to the sustainability of our city in the years and for generations to come, we cannot say that the job is finished. There are needs that still need to be tackled, and opportunities that still need to be pursued. As I have done in the past four years, I will continue to do so in my second term.
My most obvious qualification is a proven track record. I accomplished what I said I would do four years ago. There is a stronger emphasis on ensuring that Council follows the appropriate process in governance and decision-making, and all citizens are treated fairly and equitably using the criteria that must govern our actions as a community. We have been more proactive than in the past, anticipating issues and addressing them rather than simply responding to problems as they arise. Finally, four years ago, while I was not necessarily a “lone wolf” raising affordable/attainable/workforce housing issues, I was among the loudest voices warning that we had to get ahead of the issue sooner rather than later. Now, four years later, my voice is one of many and this issue has become, if not the highest, one of the highest priorities for our citizens.
The biggest issue for District 2 involves the Briargate Special Improvement Maintenance District. This SIMD covers an area roughly from Chapel Hills Mall to the west, Briargate/Research to the north, Powers to the east and Woodmen to the south, and encompasses roughly 10,000 parcels. The district, which maintains all of the public areas in the district, was created in the late 1980s/early 1990s, but only 75% of the parcels were included as assessed members while 100% of the parcels receive the benefits. Not only is this unfair, inequitable and unjust, it has exposed the District to becoming chronically underfunded, which will adversely impact all 10,000 parcels. I have been working with the SIMD Board, and an appointed citizens committee, over the last 3+ years and expect that a ballot initiative to address this situation will be presented to the voters as early as next November.
While not an issue, per se, ensuring that the City continues to engage in an appropriate, forward-looking and predictable process is indispensable for all issues we are facing. I consider this a priority because how we make decisions helps to ensure that better decisions are made. That said the two priorities I would identify priority issues are affordable housing, which I will address below, and water sustainability. With regard to water, at my initial suggestion CSU has begun the process of engaging stakeholders throughout the region to address concerns regarding water sustainability. These workshops have started and both surrounding communities and the development community have evidenced strong desires in working with us to ensure long-term sustainability not only for the current city, but for the entire region because, if the communities surrounding Colorado Springs fail for lack of water, that will adversely impact the City.
The primary role of government is public safety. This is accomplished through police, fire, traffic and public works departments. Staffing levels must be funded to meet the standards needed for communities of our size. I do not support reducing funding of the police below appropriate staffing levels. That said, I strongly supported creation of the Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission, support its ongoing investigations, and eagerly await its recommendations. Our citizens are served by our Police Department, and LETAC’s recommendations will identify areas for potential improvement, I will work diligently with the Mayor, Chief of Police and others to address LETAC’s recommendations. It would be inappropriate for me to direct what I hope the outcome of LETAC’s investigation and its recommendations will be, instead of waiting to hear from these citizens we have commissioned as they tell us what they think it is most important for us to consider.
I am very proud that my request to change language in the CSU governance manual from that which focused decision-making on the best interests of “ratepayers“ to the bests interests of the “citizens” of Colorado Springs was adopted unanimously. As CSU is an enterprise owned by Colorado Springs citizens, its citizen/owners, including a great number but not all ratepayers and many who are not ratepayers (i.e., children), should have THE strongest voice in directing our energy future and their concerns for environmental sustainability. Clean energy is increasingly important to our citizens, and while there is not a magic wand allowing us to go from the energy generation we have relied upon for generations to that which we want now instantaneously, CSU has made major strides towards environmental sustainability and cleaner energy in the last few years, and is on a path to continue doing so in the future.
There are several things we can do. (1) A full-time position in city planning department to assist developers in navigating the very complex maze of regulations that must be followed to receive public funding of affordable housing projects. (2) Through public/private partnership, create a more robust land bank allowing builders to obtain plots at nominal value through the city, subject to oversight to ensure rent/cost control and affordability. (3) In public/private partnership, establishing a self-perpetuating “seed fund” to that developers/non-profits interested in projects do not have to tie up their own funds in lawyer and administrative costs for the years needed to receive public funding; (4) Examination of impact fees charged by the City and utilities to explore what adjustments can be made to incentivize the type of housing that is desired. (5) Construction of permanent supportive and transitional housing for chronically and temporary homeless populations.
The city does a pretty good job of notifying neighborhoods and citizens of pending City actions and issues. Because of this early notification, there are many cases in which citizens and neighborhoods have become very engaged, very early in the process. It has been my experience that in those cases, because of this early engagement, compromises are made, proposed development plans rewritten and the worries and concerns of citizens and neighborhoods addressed. In other cases, however, the citizens and neighborhoods do not respond to this early outreach until the process has been moving forward for some time. Even then city staff and Council routinely work with the citizens and neighborhoods so that their concerns are heard, and will try to address, though the passage of time and expense may make this more difficult than had the issues been raised earlier in the process.
As a hospital chaplain, and front line medical worker, I can attest to the incalculable harm, suffering and death the pandemic has had on my patients and their families, and the hardship, strain and stress borne by medical providers. I start with this observation because the best way to support our business community is to do whatever we can to protect ourselves and others and control the rate of infection, restoring as much predictability as possible. This will allow our businesses to remain open, even with limitations, without fearing a spike in infection rates that lead to further restrictions. In the meantime, as we have done in approving sales tax rebates, and easing enforcement of outdoor dining and drinking, sidewalk retail and curbside shopping, we need to be open to creative ideas from the community, supporting them when it makes sense to do so.
As the City Council liaison to the Public Arts Commission, I am very aware that a vibrant and well-funded arts and cultural sector plays an important role in the local economy. Only in the last several weeks TripAdvisor ranked our City as the #7 emerging destination in the world, in part because we are a “crossroads for historians, sportsmen, architects, artists and gourmands.” We have recently completed the first ever Public Arts Master Plan and are excited to enhance the reputation that is being recognized elsewhere.
Candidate Name: Randy Helms District: District 2 E-Mail: Mhelms1979@comcast.net Website: www.randyhelmscitycouncil.com Phone: (703) 975-8782 Education: · B. S., in Aeronautical Engineering; United States Air Force Academy, CO. 1979 · M. S., in National Resource Strategy; Industrial College of the Armed Forces National Defense University, Washington DC. 1999 · M. S., in Defence Studies; Madras University, Madras India. 1993 · M. A., in Materials and Procurement Management; Webster University. 1988 Occupation: Colonel, USAF (Retired); Educator at Graduate and Undergraduate level and currently Substitute Teacher K-12 in Colorado Springs School Districts 20 and 38
My decision to run for Colorado Springs City Council was an extension of my choice of career. I want to continue to serve my community as I served my Nation. I am a proud graduate of the USAF Academy and I have over 40 years of leadership and management experience as a Commanding Officer, Educator and Charitable organization leader. My family were public servants and they taught me to give back. My Father was a police officer, small business owner and served our city as council member and mayor. He and my Mother inspired me to develop as a leader beginning with earning my Eagle Scout award followed by my appointment to the USAF Academy. The Academy is where I fell in love with Colorado Springs and my wife Donna. I am a principled driven conservative that District 2 needs. I am the right leader for District 2.
I have over 40 years of leadership and management experience as a Commanding Officer, Chief of Staff, Director of human capital, budgeting, strategic planning and flying operations as well as leadership positions in 501 (C) (3) non-profit organizations. My experiences have prepared me to lead large organizations. Twelve of the forty years’ included experience as a Strategic Planner in U.S. government policy and requirements generation, programming, planning and budgeting at the highest levels of Department of Defense. These varied experiences and training allowed me to apply strategic concepts to complex issues and formulate executable policy.
Like most of our City the chief issue will be to address the road and infrastructure shortfalls as it relates to our current needs and the growth that is going to continue. I will work to ensure available and affordable housing, public safety and protection of our environment and resources. I am a believer in creative solutions and will support zoning changes, more infill development, incentives and public-private partnerships to accomplish these challenges. I will work with the mayor, my peers on council, community leaders and the local and state governments to find solutions to these issues. As an additional concern, like the whole community, recovering from the pandemic and its impact on businesses and jobs is a priority.
1. Public Safety provides a stable environment and directly impacts safe neighborhoods and the community as a whole. While I oppose collective bargaining and what its impact would be on the general fund I do believe public safety is a government mandate and should be funded and that our first responders receive competitive wages. 2. Economy: I am keenly aware of the impacts of the pandemic on our small businesses and local economy. Even with the Pandemic the City’s 2020 tax revenues came in higher than expected. This was due to the increased housing and commercial construction along with online shopping. I support giving relief to our small businesses with incentives such as providing for a City Sales Tax Holiday again. I am open to other types of relief to ensure they stay open and healthy. Currently funding is coming from federal, state and local governments as well as philanthropy.
The first priority of my campaign is Public Safety and Community Building: As the son of a police officer, I wholeheartedly support our police. I do not believe that we can or should tolerate violence, racism or discrimination and after the events of this past summer and prior to my decision to run for City Council I applied to participate on the newly formed Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission. While I was not selected, my goal, my pledge if elected will be to work to ensure that commission becomes part of the solution. I also do not support collective bargaining of our first responders. We will hire and keep better police officers at better pay and benefits without collective bargaining.
CSU recommended and the City approved the shutdown and dismantling of the Drake Power Plant by 2023 followed by Nixon in 2030 or sooner. The City’s goal is to increase renewable energy sources without interrupting power supply to the community. I support these goals to provide future alternative energy sources but, would be cautious about ensuring no interruption in current needs and services and maintaining affordable utilities for our rate payers.
As stated above I will work with the Mayor, my Peers on Council, our amazing non-profit community and the development community to come up with innovative solutions to a very serious problem for our city. I would support incentives, less regulation and red tape and possible moratoriums on certain fees both with the City, the County and CSU. I would like to serve as an ambassador to neighborhoods to listen and make sure they are heard but, work towards solutions to hopefully overcome the “not in my backyard” sentiments we often see when affordable housing, transportation routes and zoning changes are introduced into their neighborhoods. Some of the challenges have been created by legislation in Denver making it impossible to build certain types of multi-family housing including condominiums. Finding a solution legislatively seems critical with the goal to put some limits on the constant litigation by trial lawyers.
My observation and experience tell me that there occurs generally a robust public process when change(s) are made on issues like zoning, transportation routes, etc. I think it is an important and necessary step and believe government should be transparent. There are laws around open records and what is available to any citizen in terms of government information. The Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission is an excellent example of our city leaders listening to the concerns of their citizens.
As stated above I am keenly aware of the impacts of the pandemic on our small businesses and our local economy and I recommend another City Sales Tax Holiday for the small-scale local businesses. Working to provide constructive assistance, solutions for those impacted will be a priority. The City can also offer low corporate tax rates, a Foreign Trade Zone, and training programs. The state and county can offer additional incentives that bring national and foreign investment. All parties play a role in the solution. The incentives must be fair and applied equally. We must safely open up the city and get people back to work. Job recovery and expansion are a prime concern for District 2 and the entire community.
PlanCOS includes the PublicArtCOS Public Art Master Plan. It is important to have public art in outdoor spaces for the enjoyment of all our citizens. I support incentives, city support and partnership in ensuring there is an environment and regulation that allows for a robust arts and cultural program. However, I can’t see where general fund dollars would come from to invest in art with so many needs in our community including public safety, transportation, finding affordable housing solutions and care for the ever increasing homeless population. The City has a great program in TOPS and I fully support their work at the same time believing any future funding should include operations and maintenance of our existing parks and open spaces. I could support TOPS funding going to outdoor art in neighborhoods and parks throughout the city.
Candidate Name: Richard Skorman District: City Council District 3 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com Website: richardskorman.com Phone: 719-684-6085 Education: Bachelor of Arts, Colorado College Occupation: City Council District 3 and President, Co-owner of Poor Richards/Little Richards and Ricos
Our current Council has worked well with Mayor Suthers to incentivize economic growth, deal with many long-term festering infrastructure and public safety problems, such as fixing our roads, stormwater, ADA upgrades, and public safety attrition, staffing, and equipment. We have greatly expanded our downtown and made City For Champions a reality. At Colorado Springs Utilities, we are well on our way to weaning ourselves from fossil fuels after successfully closing Drake Power Plant a decade early and planning for a distributed, alternative energy future. But there is much more to do with Affordable Housing, the Homeless, Police Transparency and Accountability, wildfire readiness, sustainable park funding, air quality mitigation (ozone), regional transportation planning, broadband rollout, and managing growth. I want another four years on Council before I end my political career to make sure a better foundation and more pro-active policies are in place to deal with the above.
We need the experience to recover from COVID, grow responsibly, create more affordable housing, and combat climate change. After serving on City Council for 11 years, President for four years, Vice Mayor for two, I have my master’s degree. I want to earn my Ph.D. after one more term. I bring 47 years of small business experience to public life -- meaning I look for pragmatic, non-political solutions to problems that effect citizens. Finally, I have extensive experience with local, state, and national environmental, political and social justice groups: Senator Salazar’s Regional Director, The Colorado Trust for Public Land (a Director); The U.S. Environmental Film Festivals (founder), Colorado Environmental Coalition (CEO), WeCycle (Chair), The National Center for Environmental Education, The Gill Foundation, Mountain Reclamation Foundation, Park Board, TOPS Working Committee, Leadership Pikes Peak (CEO) and of course, Citizen’s Project (Board Chair and a Founder).
We have the highest concentration of homeless and are going through rapid gentrification. Affordable and accessible housing is huge (I address below). Concerning the homeless, we have done a sound job-creating low-barrier shelter beds (now 700) and have been successful with many aspects of our 10-point Homeless Action Plan. But the crux is finding ways to create more Permanent Supportive Housing for the chronically homeless, put more resources into substance-use and mental health outreach and treatment and track the “hipster homeless” and hustlers who take advantage of the system without wanting to help themselves. Another issue for D3 is wildfire mitigation, evacuation planning, and rapid response – our biggest risk with Climate Change. Finally, as we redevelop downtown, the westside, and near the north and east sides of downtown, we need to be very mindful of public transportation, parking, and greenway infrastructure to allow people to move without using their cars.
Our first and foremost priority must be to combat COVID and help our local businesses and residents hit hardest by the pandemic. That means working collaboratively with local, county, state, and federal governments to secure funding and ensure a robust economic recovery. We should receive a good amount of Federal funding for eviction prevention services. We will need to work with the County to get ahead of the curve with several eviction prevention services like paying back rents and bridge funding to help with relocations. Another priority is protecting our land, waterways, and air for future generations to enjoy the great outdoors we have in Colorado Springs. Pre-COVID, we had over 23 million tourists visit the Pikes Peak Region. Our residents, tourists, and businesses cherish the quality of life we have here, and we must protect it at all costs.
Now that we have The Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission, we should listen with open ears to their recommendations. As the LETAC takes a deep dive into our department, reports on our “use of force policies," training, de-escalation procedures, how we are accountable, what we can do to increase diversity recruitment, transparency, and better public relations with our minority communities. It is essential to understand what we do well and what we can do better. I applaud the Police Department’s efforts to hire one of the country's best consulting firms to analyze our “use of force” policies and their recent effort to provide more public access to their records. I look forward to listening and learning the best practices moving forward, but it will be critical we implement them. I personally like the “Community Policing” models and the STARS program that Denver uses for mental health 911 calls.
We have much more work to build out a “distributed energy system,” with neighborhood battery storage, rooftop solar, methane gas conversion, and a smart, broadband-driven energy grid. And we are 2.5 degrees hotter than the rest of the state, in a state that is always in the top 10 for heat gain in the country. We currently have only a 19% tree canopy, and we will lose many more to the Emerald Ash Borer that is right on our Northern border. We need our canopy to be 30 percent plus to keep from the saturation of high energy-consuming air conditioners. At the same time, we must address the increased risk we face from wildfires. Finally, we can do much better with new construction and retrofitting existing homes, buildings, roads, parking lot pavement, and other construction with the best practices for climate reduction that other cities have employed.
The affordable housing shortage in Colorado Springs is a serious issue that we must proactively tackle with a shortage of close to 20,000 units before COVID. It is critical over the next four years that City Council, CSU, and the Mayor provide every incentive and opportunity possible for the private marketplace and to non-profits to increase our affordable housing inventory. Right now, we fast-track affordable projects, offer some incentives and stand up to neighbors who don't want "those people" to live near them. But we can do much more. We also need to create an affordable housing trust fund and be very pro-active with land-banking, particularly with City and Utility owned land and use every tool possible to allow current multi-housing builders to create a percentage of affordable and attainable units mixed in with market rate units throughout the City. Inclusionary zoning may be on our horizon.
We can certainly do better with police transparency. But I think Council does a good job of allowing the public equitable access. We’ve held scores of town halls and public hearings and welcomed dozens of demonstrations to the front steps of City Hall (the only government steps in town). We have over 50 citizen-led boards and commissions appointed to advise us on issues facing our community. Our Planning Commission and Council regularly hold land-use public hearings that can go on well into the night so everyone can express their opinion. Every formal Council meeting, we have Citizen’s Discussion, where constituents can talk about anything they want, that is not on that day’s agenda. That is not to mention the over 3000 constituent complaints Council and staff responded to in 2020 alone. And finally, most of Council gives out their personal number or meetings with constituents dozens of times a month.
The sooner we can get everyone vaccinated, the more we can help small businesses. As we get more federal funding for small businesses, we need to expedite getting those monies to those affected and reduce the bureaucracy. Maybe less known is the City will receive a good amount of “drug settlement” money soon, which is very needed as our substance-use problems that have had a major effect on our Downtown and Westside businesses. And the same is true for mental health and homeless funding. Finally, we should be even more aggressive with granting waivers, reducing renewal fees and offering rebates from Utilities and the City, and to be more flexible within the boundaries of public safety to ease our zoning regulations and building requirements to help small businesses better recover, as we have done with parking and outdoor dining requirements.
A vibrant and well-funded arts and cultural sector is crucial to our local economy. Colorado Springs should provide as many incentives as possible to empower, engage, and encourage our art and cultural sectors through zoning, federal and state funding, and partnerships. But most cities our size have dedicated funding for the Arts. I am not opposed to finding some dedicated money from our general fund and non-rate payer revenue from Utilities. But the best bet for this funding is if we can increase our LART tax up from 2 percent to 4 or 6. Tourists pay this, and ours is one of the lowest in the state and country. Increasing LART would take voter approval, and critical to its passage (as well badly needed funding for our parks) is the approval of the removal of our 30-word limit “Doug Bruce harness” on this April’s ballot.
Candidate Name: Art Glynn District: 3 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: artglynn.com Phone: 719-238-4656 Education: MBA Occupation: Consultant
The military brought my family and me here some fifteen years ago where we were enamored with the fact that families were actively engaged with their children to ensure they achieved the same level of success that had achieved (or better), where neighbors looked after neighbors and people were genuinely happy. After travelling the world over, we decided to make Colorado Springs our permanent home. Over the past several years, we have seen the magic that brought us here dissipate and I am determined to devote my energies to fight for the values and virtues that made Colorado Springs our home choice.
I have 30 plus years serving our nation in uniform and most recently as a member of the Citizens Outreach Group (COG) representing County Commissioner District 3 which overlaps City Council District 3. In this role, I met with diverse members of the community and learned firsthand their hopes, dreams and concerns. I have been able to articulate those hopes, dreams and concerns at the county Commissioner level and am ready to do the same within City Council to meet constituent needs and desires. For the past five years, I have served as a member of the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC Military Affairs Council working in partnership with our military neighbors to maintain the positive relationships our city enjoys.
Repeated comments from District 3 constituents state that their voice is not heard by their representative. There are a number of important issues covering affordable housing, homelessness, wildland fire mitigation, property rights and others that need to be openly discussed as a community where those who are most impacted need to be heard. I stand resolved to be that voice and represent District 3 constituents.
PROSPERITY – The American dream is alive and well! Our citizens came to Colorado Springs to raise their families, enjoy good paying jobs, celebrate our great outdoor lifestyle and most importantly, be happy. We need to attract those jobs that bring people who aspire to make a better life and make our community vibrant, retaining the magic we know as Colorado Springs. ATTAINABLE HOUSING - Attainable housing focuses on the dream that you can work, save and make a better life for yourself and family. It means having a community where you want to plant roots, invest in your future and make an impact as compared to simply having a house to live in. For both of the above, City Council needs to remove those obstacles that prevent development of critically needed housing, starting with the repeal of the Construction Defect Law which invites litigation and hurts those most in need.
Holding those upon whom we depend to protect us to a high standard is what makes us a civilized society. We have to balance that with the fact that those who serve in law enforcement are also human, not perfect and are often required to make split second life or death decisions. We must balance our desire for safe communities with individual rights, for if we fail, our society becomes fractured. We must also have good governance to ensure it doesn’t itself turn into a circus. The bar for continuation should be set to evaluate whether the commission helps builds trust or not and future funding should be based upon the outcome.
Colorado Springs is very fortunate to have the thoughtful and forward thinking leadership that Colorado Springs Utilities provides. As we have learned from the recent Texas power outages, we need to have a diversified and balanced approach to our energy future. I do not believe anyone really wants to risk the chance of extended power outages in pursuit of full renewable energy. We need to have a balance of resilient and economical energy that focuses on broader community needs. We also need to be cognoscente of our military bases which are reliant upon our energy infrastructure and serve not only our residents, but protect the nation as a whole. Our energy decisions have wide ranging impacts and should be taken into consideration when conducting future planning.
The housing crisis afflicting Colorado Springs is only getting worse. This issues are complex and reflects that Colorado Springs’ success in attracting new residents has a dark side. Today, there is an absolute dearth of available housing at all levels and is starting to cast shadow over our economy and our ability to provide adequate housing. On the housing insecurity front, the current moratorium on evictions and foreclosures has disrupted the market place and forced property owners to hunker down and attempt to weather this financial storm. Once the moratorium ends, there will be significant further disruption with people losing their housing due to circumstances outside their control. To offer simplistic housing solutions at this stage would fail to recognize the complex factors involved. The key however, requires a whole of community discussion bringing together local government and private industry to help solve this challenge.
Throughout District 3, residents have repeatedly commented that they felt their voices were not being heard. This is due in part to some residents feeling mocked when presenting in front of City Council. This has had a chilling effect on open discourse and created resentment amongst many residents who may be more reserved. Members of City Council have repeatedly stated the abundance of opportunities for people to attend City Council and make comment. Thus far, this has not achieved the desired objective. Perhaps it is time for elected officials to get out and away from City Hall and meet the people who elected them. This would go a long way to reassure residents that their elected official does in fact represent their needs and positions. The City of Colorado Springs has done a lot to help residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has taken steps to help local businesses.
As devastating as COVID-19 has been on our community and nation, much of the destruction has been caused by government actions. While the objective may have been honorable, the implications are many businesses have been permanently shuttered. The best City Council can do, is to remove regulatory constraints to allow businesses to open-up quickly, rehire their employees and generate sales. Though for some it may be too late, we need to resuscitate those businesses that have a fighting chance and return our communities to a level of normalcy.
Our community is characterized by the natural beauty our surroundings provide, the friendly nature of our residents and by our arts and culture. Looking around the country where communities thrive, each has embraced their arts and culture to support community identity and share the same with visitors. The redevelopment of Colorado Springs, downtown in particular has created an inviting environment enticing residents and visitors alike to enjoy the Colorado Springs we love.
Candidate Name: Olivia Lupia District: 3 E-Mail: VoteOliviaLupia@gmail.com Website: VoteOliviaLupia.com Phone: (719) 231-0943 Education: Bachelor’s Degree Occupation: Performing Artist & Freelance Proofreader
I have lived in Colorado Springs for 21 years, was raised here, and had all my formulative experiences here. Like many others in Colorado Springs, I have been watching our City Council unilaterally, without any serious constituent input, create a new identity and corresponding policies for the city. I am running to be a true, reflective voice for the wants and needs of my district, not what the rest of the city, county or state tells us we should want. I represent a new generation of leadership and desire to be a Councilmember that listens to the people of the city as we face our challenges.
I am as qualified as any other citizen who would be assuming the role for the first time. Being raised by small business owners, I had the opportunity to learn first-hand how the business world operates. My experiences in the performing arts industry have also prepared me, as the entertainment and civil service realms are surprisingly similar in many ways, and I have translated many of my business skills into that arena. Having also survived and overcome personal and familial tragedy and hardship has produced in me a strength of character, compassion, and maturity that I believe will greatly aid me as a councilmember.
Over and over again, the biggest issue I hear from District 3 constituents is that City Council does not listen. They may hear testimony or respond to an email, but they do not truly value or take into account citizen input, and our current Council president has admitted to this being the case, especially when they don’t agree with the constituents. While we may not agree on the final solution, or even that there is a problem to begin with, I firmly believe every voice should be heard and respected. City Council serves the people, not the reverse. It is Council’s job to be responsive to citizens and proactive in providing transparency and honest communication while taking into account the needs of not only their districts, but the city as a whole.
1) Businesses require the opportunity to fully open and lead our city’s recovery and revitalization. We achieve this by offering constituents freedom and authority over their businesses, personal property, and lives with less government regulation, especially when it becomes a burden for the people. I believe in personal responsibility and accountability. 2) Infrastructure and Energy- The people need a stronger voice concerning alternative transportation and cost-effective energy options, and City Council needs to be receptive by not implementing policies unilaterally. For example, I do not support the forced sacrifice of our existing thoroughfares for initiatives such as bike lane-dominant roadways. Additionally, current green energy initiatives (solar & wind) being implemented by City Council via CSU will come at heavy ratepayer expense and are being proven in other areas of the country to be expensive to implement, ineffective in meeting the energy needs of customers, and create increased rates for consumers.
I am not in favor of the underlying reasons for the founding of the city’s LETAC (Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission) and concur with the Council's limitations on the authority of LETAC. I am in favor of transparency and accountability from the police department, hence why I support continued strong oversight by City Council, the District Attorney and Police Internal Affairs. Our police department needs support (including full funding and staffing) not constant, prejudiced scrutiny.
As stated above regarding my priorities, the current green energy initiatives being pursued by City Council will come at heavy ratepayer expense. Additionally, the required infrastructure components have proven unreliable and once broken down, or at the end of its useful life, the materials are non-recyclable thus creating more landfill buildup and environmental damage. I believe the city of Colorado Springs currently has a reliable, responsible, and cost-effective power system that if properly maintained and updated can last well into the future.
Affordability and attainability of housing in the city should be driven by market-oriented factors rather than by city-imposed mandates of affordability. I believe housing options should match the needs of consumers in offering a variety of multi and single-family housing options in the appropriate communities. Current studies and reports show that the majority of homeless choose that lifestyle even when offered work and housing alternatives. A small percentage of homeless suffer from mental issues but caring for them requires a specialized plan of action. While some citizens do experience unfortunate housing crises and need short-term help (usually the ones who pursue already available work and assistance programs) this minority group of homeless are not the primary cause of the problem. The city can help those who want it by continuing to make all available resources publicly known, but personal responsibility and accountability play a large part in addressing this problem.
Simply offer citizens the true opportunity to participate in the process, and to be heard not just listened to- a citizen committee responsible for setting up chairs and taking photos is not citizen engagement. Accountability and transparency should be foundational in government service, yet government treats them as a nuisance. For instance, a survey comprised of only 1,700 participants all living in one area of the city and/or representing only one age demographic should not be touted as being representative of the entire city when creating a long-term plan.
Businesses, not the state or their designees, should be empowered to determine how to best protect themselves and their customers. Unfortunately, our present reality is that many businesses that were forced to close will not reopen. To stimulate our flattened economy and keep small businesses thriving, the City Council must advocate for our remaining businesses to fully reopen and determine their own best practices for moving forward in 2021 and beyond. As a home rule municipality, Colorado Springs, via City Council, should be doing more to support and protect the rights of our citizens and our economy.
At this time the idea of ensuring city funding is in place for public art and cultural programs should be way down on the list of priorities. I do support fostering a city-wide atmosphere that embraces the performing and fine arts, however it should not be a fully funded city initiative. The city should focus on fostering communities and supporting private initiatives that truly engage in and support a culture of artistic events and activities such as a robust performing arts center schedule, festivals and concerts (philharmonic, modern genres, etc.), and renowned museums. All of these things contribute to our being a highly desirable city to live in and visit.
Candidate Name: Regina English District: 4 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: www.reginaenglish.com Phone: 719-388-3695 Education: Current Doctoral Student in organizational leadership Occupation: Business owner
I have had the honor of being called upon by my district to be the voice in this season. I am passionate about community and I will make sure that we have the resources, opportunities and access to the things that are necessary for all to thrive. I have also committed myself to bring the voice of community to the table and not the voice of Regina. The main reason I am running is because it is time for change and when you want to see change you position yourself to be the change and I am the woman that will keep the momentum going in my district and bring a strong, consistent, collaborative, inclusive community voice to the decision-making process of City Council. It is time to put people over power and people over politics and I will not play the game of politics with people’s lives.
According to the qualifications and the requirements of the city, I met them all to become a candidate. I am currently an elected official serving as the Vice President of the Harrison School District Two board of education where my job is to create policy and make decisions for 11,000+ students in our district because it is important to me to make sure that I am setting all students up for success by ensuring that equity is present through policy so I have proven myself to be capable of making good decisions that set people up for success and I plan to continue to create policy, ordinances and make decisions that are fair and equitable for all people serving as your council woman.
A big issue is a lack of affordable housing. I plan to address this issue by working with city staffers, community and developers collaborating to make the best decisions that will benefit everyone. The city has a plan in PlanCos and working together bringing new ideas, new energy and new perspectives is what is needed for our district and our council. Also, a living wage is a big issue and I plan to address this issue by working with those that can provide resources, opportunities and access to jobs in our community through economic development and intentionally visiting employers to advocate for community members for better paying jobs to support and sustain their families.
Homelessness is one of my priorities and I would like to see more shelter beds and affordable housing to help alleviate this issue because I believe that the two are intertwined and also, I would like to see employers offer a living wage and when economic development is happening opportunities and resources are made available for members of the community. Incentives should be given for use of vacant buildings opposed to them sitting unoccupied to provide shelter for the homeless along with resources.
What we have now is a start and we will have to see what will come out of this particular committee. I would like to see an oversight committee where the community has a voice in how unethical police officers are held accountable for ill policing and transparency is non-negotiable. Also, more funding should be allocated for mental health therapy, diversity training and the training to become an officer should be more extensive with an in-depth mental evaluation.
To continue to support the efforts that are going on as we move towards renewable energy, allow cross training in the field so that those that worked in the coal industry are able to cross over and work with CSU to make sure that utility cost stay affordable to residents. Most importantly we must do our part and make better green decisions to keep our air clean and maintain the upkeep of our environmental infrastructure.
To support PlanCos and contribute to the conversation by bringing new ideas, new perspectives and help enhance the plan that is in motion by the city and collaborate with city staff, community and developers to ensure that we are making decisions that are geared towards forward thinking and long-term sustainability.
Be intentional on being transparent and involve citizens from the beginning of the process and utilize media outlets, television radio as well as local organizations to disseminate information through each community.
Yes, I believe that there should be access to more funding and resources to empower small businesses through grant money and tax breaks should also be available for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.
Art is an expression of creativity in the mind and reflects culture in many different facets. I believe that art enhances our communities, and it reflects past, present and future history. It enriches society. Art is also a tourist attraction that brings people from all over the world to see a masterpiece that resonates with them because tourism also helps boost the local economy.
Candidate Name: Yolanda L. Avila District: Colorado Springs District 4 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://yolandalavilaforcitycouncil.com/ Phone: 719-424-7142 Education: B.A. International Political Economy, Colorado College Occupation: Retired Criminal Defense Investigator; City Councilor
When I first ran for City Council in 2017, I saw a desperate need for real representation in Southeast Colorado Springs. After nearly four years, we’ve accomplished a great deal of change in many areas, including improved roads, bridges, and sidewalks and better public transit. I am running for reelection to make sure that the progress continues. The experience and knowledge I’ve gained will help me continue the fight to put Southeast Colorado Springs on a level playing field with the rest of the City.
After serving on City Council for nearly four years, I have gained the experience, knowledge, and connections needed to get things done. And I get results. In just four short years we have increased public transit (more bus routes, greater frequency) and improved our roads, bridges, and sidewalks. Soon, we will have the first ever urban renewal projects in the Southeast - bringing new retail space, community services, and affordable housing. There is a steep learning curve when you serve on Council and the Utilities Board - and I am the only candidate with the experience, knowledge, and connections to hit the ground running.
COVID 19 has really highlighted the already existing disparities for Southeast Colorado Springs - the impact on families and small businesses has been especially devastating in District 4. To help us recover, my focus will continue to be on the economic vitality of Southeast Colorado Springs - working with the community, regional partners, and private interests to get small businesses the resources they need to reopen and families the support they need to survive and thrive. I will continue to look for opportunities to bring resources to the Southeast - whether it be additional vaccines for our residents or bringing together partners to invest in urban renewal.
My top priority can be broken down into four components: improved infrastructure, economic development, improved transit, and affordable housing. These are my top priorities because they are the top priorities for the people in my district - we need jobs, we need to get to those jobs, and we need an affordable place to live. As for how to fund these priorities, it will take a combination of resources - and partnerships with community organizations, private businesses, and other local governments.
City Council’s role is to ensure that the recommendations by LETAC are implemented to the maximum extent possible - whether that be additional training for our first responders, expanded oversight authority for LETAC, or ensuring that needed funding is allocated. LETAC is beginning to move in a good direction - Council’s role is to ensure that the roadblocks and barriers to implementation are removedl.
We have taken some encouraging steps toward sustainability and ensuring a just, environmentally responsible energy future - the recent historic decision to close the Martin Drake Power Plant is a prime example. We need to incorporate sustainability concepts in all we do - like thinking about life cycle costs in our long-term investments, taking steps to reduce runoff, and reducing the heat island effect when we build roads or houses (creating a tree canopy).
The housing crisis is one of our toughest obstacles - and one that cannot be solved by the city alone. We need to take a whole system approach. For homelessness, housing first should be the priority, but we need to coordinate health services (including behavioral services) and other resources in a way that sets people up to succeed. For affordable housing, the city should dedicate some resources to focus on affordable and attainable housing. And City Council needs to use all of the tools available to it - flex zoning for new development, accessory dwelling units for existing development, and looking at ways to include affordable housing in proposed developments.
As the Council Member representing District 4, I regularly reach out to my constituents about the issues being discussed at Council - and will continue to do so. For Council as whole, I would like to explore round table discussions to meet our constituents where they are - varying the times and locations so that more people can attend. We need robust town halls on hot topics issues before they come to a vote. For access, I’ve pushed for closed captioning on our Channel 18 timely disclosure of documents, and reducing or eliminating fees for those documents.
The City could look at extending the temporary sales tax reduction to help small-scale businesses weather the next few months. For restaurants, expanding and extending the outdoor dining options, designating additional parking spaces for take-out, and implementing parking holidays for downtown to encourage people to spend more time in our small businesses. For small businesses outside the downtown area, it is especially important to explore creative options like extended business hours. I am optimistic as we move into yellow status that we’ll be able to increase the occupancy rates for retail space and help promote a return to normal.
Studies have shown us that art is an economic driver in our community - and for that reason, I support investing general fund dollars to foster arts and cultural expression in neighborhoods. We also should look for opportunities to partner with the private sector, nonprofits, and individuals to create spaces for art in all of its forms. We especially need public spaces throughout our community where art can happen. That’s why I am working on a cultural bazaar in Southeast Colorado Springs - a space for music and dance performances, the visual arts, and others - where we can highlight and celebrate the various cultures represented in the Southeast.
Candidate Name: Nancy Henjum District: 5 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: nancyforcos.com Phone: 719-651-1258 Education: BA, MSW Occupation: Small business owner, leadership consultant
I love Colorado Springs and care deeply about ensuring our city’s success. We are at a critical juncture. The decisions our next City Council makes about how we grow will determine the type of city we become. The major issues we face related to affordable housing, roads and infrastructure, our local economy, and our parks and open spaces require collaborative leaders with experience in problem solving and creating positive outcomes. My dad, Joe Henjum, an Air Force veteran who co-founded The Home Front Cares, always said, “When you see a need you can fill, that means it’s your turn to step up.” I have 30 years of collaborative leadership experience that I’ve cultivated through volunteer leadership and in my profession as a leadership consultant helping companies big and small navigate through times of challenge and change. I see a need I can fill, and I’m stepping up to fill it.
I am a 30-year resident of District 5 and a small business owner with extensive volunteer and professional experience in collaborative leadership. I started my professional life as a social worker, and later became the Chief Operations Officer for a public-private health care partnership serving 43 of 63 Colorado counties. At the Center for Creative Leadership, I used my practical experience to coach executives and their teams before starting my own business. I’ve also served as a volunteer-leader: board president of CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates); facilitator for the Illumination Project addressing community/police relations; and council moderator of my downtown church. As a leader, I ask questions, listen, and do my homework. At this point in our city’s history, we need leaders who value and practice cooperative problem-solving, where everyone has a voice.
As I’ve been out in my district knocking on doors, hosting town halls, and have phone conversations, it’s clear that growth is the top issue on voters’ minds. We’re fortunate to live in a city that’s widely recognized as a most desirable place to live, and this brings both opportunities and challenges. We still need to recover from the pandemic; to maintain infrastructure and enhance transportation; to manage our utilities for population growth. How do we do so while also maintaining and improving quality of life? Our elected leaders need to engage us in a city-wide conversation about the values and priorities that will lead us into the future. Many of the city’s plans (such as PlanCOS, RetoolCOS, HomeCOS, etc.), express important visions – but we need first to make sure they align with each other, have buy-in from citizens, and make sense given our resources.
These priorities are both connected to growth. First: strengthening our neighborhoods and meeting the demand for affordable housing. We’re in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. The causes of this are multiple and range from the cost of building homes to a local economy where wages are stagnant. Strong neighborhoods are those where people from 8 to 80 years old feel safe, have good transportation, and can access beautiful parks; but they must also be affordable. Second: supporting our small businesses. They add tremendous value and culture to our communities. The City works hard to attract national companies, and this is good for our economy. However, I am concerned that we’re not dedicating the same energy to supporting our small businesses. We need to be just as committed to the success of our local businesses as we are to recruiting out of state companies.
This past summer City Council chartered the Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission (LETAC) to provide Council with recommendations regarding public safety and law enforcement. Some felt this didn’t go far enough and wanted direct civilian oversight. The political leadership in this city opposed this option. For the moment, let’s let LETAC do its work. It’s the tool we have. It may be sufficient—maybe not. At a minimum, I’d like to see our City’s approach to crisis response (as opposed to armed response) much expanded, along the lines, for instance, of the well-received STARS program in Denver. We need better communication between citizens and CSPD, and CSPD has paid a consultant to examine it is use of force policies and practice, the results of which should be out by the end of 2021. I think some good can come out of LETAC’s recommendations, but let’s see.
Growth is a major concern in our city, which impacts our environment and energy future. As many will know, Colorado Springs Utilities is a publicly-owned company, and City Council serve as CSU’s board of directors. CSU is de-commissioning the Drake Power Plant ahead of an earlier proposed schedule. CSU also has a credible plan to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2050. We need to continue in this direction and, where possible, become more aggressive in our transition to energy independence through increasing renewable energy sources. We can do this while delivering reliable, affordable utilities to our citizens. As we grow, we also need to pay careful attention to our water supply and to fire danger. I believe Colorado Springs is poised to be a leader in how a mid-sized city can grow responsibly while also being a good steward of our environment and energy resources.
I plan to support and will seek to advance the city’s comprehensive affordable and attainable housing plan known as HomeCOS. The plan combines current analysis of the local housing and job market with insights gathered from local residents and key stakeholders in the non-profit and for-profit development communities. And as I address earlier, we need to push for greater integration of HomeCOS, RetoolCOS, ConnectCOS and PlanCOS. Zoning, economic development, transportation, and infrastructure must all be coordinated and working from a common vision and common set of values, because the cost and attainability of housing is related to a number of factors. In this – as well as many other challenges facing us – City Council needs to show the willingness and ability to engage in systems-wide conversations that promote broad-based solutions.
Citizens must feel connected to the plans we ask them to support. The two-year process to develop PlanCOS offered extensive public input. While I attended a session and found it constructive, the process could have had greater reach by utilizing one of many robust digital platforms for gathering feedback from people unable to attend in person. I also believe elected leaders can do more to pro-actively engage constituents. We need to recognize that not every resident has the time or ability to attend a townhall or public meeting. We live in a modern world, but in many ways the public engagement tools governments use haven’t caught up. After I’m elected I plan to continue knocking doors in the neighborhoods, making phone calls, and building in digital communication platforms to continue the conversation with District 5 residents and to create more accessibility to our local government.
Along with our great outdoors and our neighborhoods, our small businesses make Colorado Springs truly unique. These businesses are tremendous drivers of economic vitality. We need to value them just as we value the national companies we recruit here. By nature, small business owners are flexible, creative, and self-reliant. In normal times we take for granted the hard work and determination it takes for them to succeed. But these are not normal times. Fortunately, our city has done a lot more than many people realize. However, I believe we can do more to promote to our small businesses the various opportunities of support (whether federal, state, or local) they can apply to receive. Our small business owners have a lot on their plate. Let’s make sure they have access to all the tools they need to thrive.
Colorado Springs has reaped the benefits of arts and cultural programming through both public partnerships and private ventures. The research-based benefits are palpable. Not only does our arts and cultural sector improve overall quality of life, but they are economic drivers in various ways – including raising visibility such that our arts and cultural offerings promote and drive tourism. Consider just one aspect of this – public art (i.e., works of art in public spaces). This is primarily experienced downtown. Our entire city deserves the proven benefits of public art, and residents deserve a greater say when it comes to public art. However, our donation-based acquisition policy leaves little opportunity for community involvement. Let’s take PublicArtCOS and grow that vision throughout the city. The City should streamline public art leadership by means of a dedicated, interdepartmental Public Art Expert position to work with departments and create greater efficiency.
Candidate Name: Matt Zelenok District: 5 E-Mail: Matt@MattZelenok.com Website: www.MattZelenok.com Phone: 719 576 5020 Education: Bachelors in Biochemistry, University of Colorado Occupation: Managing Broker, Springs Preferred Realty
Growing up in Colorado Springs, this city has been my home since I was 9 months old. I have seen our city grow and change over the last 34 years into the wonderful place that it is today. However, as our government is faced with an increasingly expanding list of critical decisions to make, I am wary that we are on the right path for long-term success. I am equally concerned that our city council continues to makes decisions that impact the lives of our residents while lacking the proper input from the community. I have been inspired to run for city council in order to reestablish the voice and will of our citizens in our government. Likewise, I want to ensure Colorado Springs has a comprehensive and long-term plan that is achievable and beneficial for the entire community.
As City Council makes decisions on highly technical issues around the city, including serving as the board to CSU, I believe District 5 needs an individual who can fully understand these issues and make the most educated decisions possible on behalf of the community. As the only candidate in District 5 with a technical education or background, I believe this helps qualify me in a unique way. Through my education at the University of Colorado and the experience gained working for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratory - I have learned to collaborate with a multitude of individuals from varying backgrounds in order to achieve a common goal. I believe this is what sets me apart; I possess the ability to process technical information and translate it to members of my community so they may fully understand how decisions being made in our city government will impact them.
I believe there are two equally important issues my district is facing; transportation infrastructure and proposed zoning changes. Firstly, district 5 has one of the densest populations per area, which results in higher than average vehicular traffic and congestion as residents travel around and through the district. I would initially address this issue by implementing the use of modern “SMART” traffic technology to improve signal timing and traffic flow. I believe we can take these steps today to improve our traffic issues while the city resolves the financial details to comprehensively update and improve our transportation infrastructure. In regards to the proposed zoning changes, I will work tirelessly to protect the rights of current homeowners who invested in their homes while at the same time cautiously exploring innovative ideas to improve the supply of affordable housing in my district and in Colorado Springs.
My top two priorities are promoting economic development and improving our transportation infrastructure. The pandemic has changed our world forever and we must adapt to these changes to find future economic success. We must also diversify our local economy in order to reduce our reliance on the military as the single largest economic contributor in Colorado Springs. Likewise, we must ensure the city has the proper data communication infrastructure in place to retain our current military presence while at the same time attracting new innovative companies to Colorado Springs. Efforts from the 2C tax program have made progress towards improving our roads, but due to threatening lawsuits the city was forced to redirect almost half of these funds to update the city’s curbs and sidewalks to current standards. I will ensure tax dollars being collected on behalf of a road program are spent on roads where they are desperately needed.
City Council has recently established the Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission and we must allow this group the opportunity to decide what tools they need to operate sufficiently. As with any new organization, time is needed in order to become efficient and identify improvement areas. When the time arises that the LETAC requires changes in structure or authority, the City Council must be willing to listen and respond in a timely manner to these needs. I believe the LETAC will be a great asset to act as a liaison between the community, law enforcement and our city government.
Colorado Springs Utilities has a robust and achievable plan to migrate away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. However, even with a robust plan we must proceed with caution during the transition process to ensure reliability and affordability of our utilities. Our citizens are concerned that our city’s energy security is in jeopardy as a result of the Drake power plant closure - and electric rates will substantially increase in the near future. City Council as the board to CSU has the duty to ensure the promises being made to utilities subscribers will be upheld and CSU will proceed through this transition in a manner that does not threaten reliability or current rates. Due to federal and state mandates, the transition away from fossil fuels is a required action and by doing so ahead of the deadlines, CSU projects a significant long-term cost savings, which will benefit us all.
Colorado Springs maintains a very lean budget, and as such I do not believe our government should directly engage in providing our citizens with affordable housing. I do believe in a free market economy where the successful model is a public-private partnership. I believe our city can cooperate with and help guide developers in a thoughtful manner to assist in the city’s growth and contribute to easing the affordable housing issue by increasing the supply of housing. I also believe the city can assist developers who share the common goal of providing affordable housing by reducing road blocks in the planning phase. Likewise, I believe we must be open to zoning changes that promote increasing the supply of affordable housing, but does not infringe on the rights of existing property owners.
Public access to government information is something I feel very strongly about, especially in regards to the city’s finance history. In order to improve government accountability and transparency I believe our citizens should be able to track every cent of their tax dollars in a concise and simple manner. The city has made an effort through their website to improve communication between the citizens regarding new projects and initiatives, but there is always room for improvement. I would propose something as simple as a monthly district and citywide digital newsletter to inform citizens and increase awareness of current and future discussions on city council’s schedule. It is nearly impossible as a “reasonable” citizen to stay continuously informed with issues that may affect them without checking the newspaper and city website on a daily basis.
I believe in supporting our local businesses, large and small, in any way we can. At a minimum, I would support an extension of the sales tax rebates provided to bars and restaurants if they are effective in assisting eligible businesses. Likewise, I would encourage business owners to come forward to communicate with City Council of their needs and suggestions in ways the city can help. There are a number of local programs to assist the recovery of small business such as “Survive and Thrive” and it is crucial we communicate these programs to our local business so they are aware of the resources available to them. Likewise, the federal government still has Paycheck Protection Programs in affect from the pandemic relief package, which I believe are being underutilized. I would advocate for the Small Business Development Center in playing a stronger role in connecting businesses with relief funding.
As Colorado Springs grows, art plays a crucial role in the beautification of our city. I will help promote cooperation between the city and our educational institutes, whether college or K-12 schooling to increase artistic and cultural expression in Colorado Springs. I believe the city council and respective committees should play a strong role in collaborating with non-profit organizations such as; The El Pomar Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation to help artists locate funding for projects around the city. Likewise, as the pandemic is coming to a close it will be crucial we promote events at the Pikes Peak Center in order to revitalize the performing arts in our City.
District: 5 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.karlie5.com Phone: 719-660-0718 Education: Master of Business Administration (MBA) Occupation: Small business owner / general manager
I am a Colorado native and have lived in Colorado Springs since age 18. I started off earning minimum wage, renting and working full time while pursuing my education. For the last 12 years, my husband and I have raised our son and built small, successful businesses in the city. I consider my story representative of many people who live here, who have struggled, taken risks and worked tirelessly to build something in order to provide our children with more than what we started with. I am now in a position to give back to my community that has helped my family be a part of the city’s success. The city deserves leadership that cares about its present condition and the quality of life for its residents while also keeping an eye on the future. I bring this perspective to the City Council.
I have sat on various work groups where I participated in strategy development and implementation. Through my education and business background, I have acquired skills that allow me to be effective at collaborating with different industries, groups and people, analyzing financial and operational data, and identifying problems or shortfalls from legal, regulatory, financial, personal and operational perspectives with an eye towards improving processes and continued improvement and efficiencies.
Based on feedback from residents in my district, the overwhelming concern is the overhaul of our zoning codes. When addressing this issue, the city needs to consider each neighborhood's individuality and make sure that long-time residents who have invested in their neighborhoods are not being alienated. The city must also consider the direct impact to utilities and rate increases to the current and proposed residents as well as the impact to public and private transportation. Updating our zoning code is necessary and inevitable . Additionally, increasing diversity in density and housing styles is essential to keeping up with the city's growth. However, it must be approached in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner that embraces the concerns of all our citizens.
My top priorities include affordable housing, government transparency, park and trail maintenance/improvements and public transportation. Colorado Springs is a beautiful place and our population is growing rapidly. It is my goal to collaborate with residents, associations, other council members and government agencies to create thoughtful and comprehensive policy regarding these issues that will positively impact our very diverse population and encourage sustainable growth.
I support full transparency and accountability in all aspects of government, including law enforcement. The City must do its part to provide any form of accountability and transparency to help forge trust between the public and law enforcement. This can include supporting the role of the Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Committee, working with mental health professionals when responding to calls, and ensuring our police officers have the most up to date training on best practices and policy
I support the transition from nonrenewable energy sources to renewable energy provided the change is gradual, sustainable and well planned. I believe the transition is inevitable and it is best for our city to stay ahead of these trends and not lag behind. Data shows that renewable energy is already cheaper to produce compared to coal energy while also reducing our carbon footprint. Advancing technology will only continue to drive down the costs of renewable energy. Sustainable growth depends on our ability to produce enough energy for all of us at lower rates.
The city must take an active role to ensure we have housing that meets the needs of all income levels. Rising house prices push fixed and low income earners out of the market. City Council should work with builders to identify and reduce/eliminate cost prohibitive policy and red tape. While regulations are important to ensure quality and safety, excessive and redundant regulation hinder the ability to build affordable housing quickly and efficiently. Homelessness is a result of systemic issues including inadequate mental health programs/treatment, addiction and home insecurity. We cannot just pass ordinances to push our homeless population out of site. The underlying issues must be addressed. Furthermore, a percentage of the population, for various reasons, will suffer from chronic homelessness. The city must be pragmatic and work with our organizations who specialize in chronic homelessness to create safe places for our homeless population to exist.
Fair and equitable access to government information is the only way to ensure inclusiveness when making decisions regarding city issues. The city must first create awareness. Many citizens are not even aware certain issues are up for discussion until a vote has been cast. The city must use multiple forms of advertising including social media, radio, opt-in text/email lists, television, print and internet to ensure our citizens are aware of the issues and have opportunity to comment before the issues go to vote. The city must also be proactive when gathering input. The use of web, text or mail based surveys can be effective in gathering input. This will also allow for the city to gather data from citizens who may be unable to attend public hearings for various issues, including work, school or family obligations or lack of access to city hall due to disability or transportation limitations.
The city should fully open our businesses immediately without threat of future shutdowns. Financial relief programs for our small business and citizens seeking financial assistance need to be expanded to include more eligible businesses and people. The application process should be streamlined for easy application and expedient approval to allow for the quick distribution of funds.
A robust arts and culture sector provides a multitude of direct economic benefits to our community. A healthy creative industry creates jobs for our local artists and performers. The creative industry can also attract investments, generate tax revenues through sales of tangible products as well as tickets to live music and performances, and can also stimulate the city economy by attracting tourists. Art and culture also improves the quality of life for our citizens and fosters a creative and innovative environment for our young people.
Candidate Name: Justin Hermes District: 5 E-Mail: Hermes@Thehermesteam.net Website:Justinhermescos.com Phone: 719-232-1063 Education: Bachelors in business marketing Occupation: Real estate agent and property manager
Being a native of Colorado springs I absolutely love this community and strongly believe we need a voice for the younger generation. I also believe there needs to be true representation of the community and everyone’s voices heard. I do feel like district 5 has an ample amount of commercial space that could be easily converted to affordable housing.
I have been immersed in this community for several years and have been involved with organizations such as Springs or rescue Mission, big Brothers big sisters, Junior Achievement, TWOCOR and Colorado Springs rising professionals. Being a realtor and property manager I also have an ample amount of experience with affordable housing.
I believe the biggest issue we are facing is affordable housing. We have to make sure we have an affordable sales market for those individuals wishing to own a home. We also have to provide an avenue for affordable rental properties. I believe it would be more cost-effective to convert existing commercial space into affordable rental property space. If done correctly we could offer a two bedroom for as little as $800 a month. This is 400 dollars below our two bedroom average right now. As for the sales side I do believe if we become more flexible with zoning it will offer a more affordable housing market. We also have to remove the red tape and offer less regulations for builders.
My top priority is revitalizing the Citadel Mall. Currently 93,000 ft.² of space is for sale for 3.5 million. This also includes 4 to 5 acres of build able space outside the mall. Many other cities have had great success converting these big box malls into fresh new space that has revitalized the area around it. Even other areas like the rustic Hills shopping Center could be used for affordable housing. I believe we have to look at the vacant space we currently have before looking at building new apartments and developments. l. I also believe we need better infrastructure and have to focus on planning 10 to 15 years ahead when it comes to new developments and maintenance on our current roads. We need to make sure the developers are held responsible for proper infrastructure in new communities.
Initiating the Law enforcement transparency and accountability commission was a proper step taken by the city. However we have an incredible sheriff and police department, and we need to empower those leaders to properly run their organizations. I would trust the leaders in the department and the DA to take further steps regarding discipline for officers who have acted out of line or used excessive force. I do not believe in having the commission reviewing special cases but rather relying on the judicial system.
I think a lot of great initiatives and planning have been put in place to ensure we are being environmentally sensitive. However I do think we have to be careful becoming too reliant on renewable energy. I also think having affordable utilities needs to be just as much of a priority as the environment. I also see some concerns with how solar panels and wind turbines will be properly disposed of once their life span is complete.
If we allow investors to come in and convert the vacant commercial space we currently have into affordable housing this will greatly help with the issue. The city has made great progress decreasing the homeless population and offering special divisions of the police and fire department to help with homeless outreach. I do not believe the city should be involved in affordable housing but if more freedoms are given to investors to convert the spaces we already have then I believe we can achieve a very affordable rental market.
When elected I would put in place a team of 50 individuals throughout the community of district 5 to help make sure every voice is heard. These individuals would help with input on certain community issues that are directly affecting the constituents in their neighborhood. This would allow for clear communication and a transparent voice for the people.
At this point I believe the city needs to make sure all local businesses are able to open up at 100% occupancy. We must give this freedom to our business owners and allow the citizens to make proper choices in regards to the environments they would be exposed to. I would be a strong proponent of supporting small business and letting owners operate their businesses as they see fit.
I believe arts and culture are a key component of a vibrant Colorado Springs. We need to make sure a proper venue is being given to the arts and culture community. We need to encourage opportunities for all entrepreneurs to succeed in the art and culture community.
Candidate Name: Mary Elizabeth Fabian District: 5 E-Mail: email@example.com Website: www.fabianforcolorado.com Phone: 719-422-9369 Education: Business from Pikes Peak Community College Occupation: Business Owner
I am in this race because I love this city. In the past several years, I have watched our tax dollars being spent in less efficient ways as well as on some “pet projects” resulting in rates and fees being increased. This has affected my outcomes in my personal work with charities and my own private business so I understand how it is affecting my neighbors personally and their own livelihoods. My experience in founding a school, a non profit and a personal business as well as raising a family in D5 will allow me to be a well rounded voice on City Council.
My focus since moving to COS has been adding value to our city by founding a non-profit, a charter school and my work with civic organizations. I am also a small business owner, with a strong understanding of how to best get more done on time and under budget. If the people want a representative who will advocate for all of D5, I am that person.
The biggest issue facing my district is the disparity in growth and the attention given to “pet projects”. While we are avoiding changing the face of some communities, some of my district’s residents face a “Light Industrial Rezoning” project that is not inline with the vision of their neighborhood. I will listen to all involved when approving specific zoning changes and encourage development that supports both progress and yet preserves the culture of the community and their investments. Another example of this disparity is Otis Park which has fallen into disrepair, while other parks in the community have received multiple updates. By engaging with, listening to, and activating community voices, I will advocate on Council to stay within budget while serving the needs of our neighborhoods as a whole.
My top priority is responsibly managing the budget and avoiding unnecessary fee increases in Colorado Springs. A penny saved is a penny earned and our community deserves to have their tax money handled efficiently so that we do not have to increase additional fees for the repercussions of mismanagement. My second priority is to ensure that all of our District 5 neighbors are represented and have access to information and access to their representative.
Our Community deserves for every person to feel safe and protected and served by our Police Force. In order to do this, we need to do a better job of retaining our Force and recruiting additional officers. This is done by showing support from our community and understanding the layers and the personal impacts of those responsibilities. An open discussion about the best solutions, areas of improved collaboration on all sides, and how to create the most effective Force is necessary and I am willing to be the person to help facilitate it.
With energy uncertainty facing many communities, Colorado Springs is working towards increased sustainability. I believe that when working with new technologies we should be cautiously willing to explore and understand multiple options. Ultimately, if we reduce our quality of life we have not properly succeeded in this objective. In my own family, we cloth diaper, recycle, and compost for our own small garden. Freedom in the marketplace has always proven to return the best results possible.
I remember being a single mother and spending half of my monthly earnings on a small place for my daughter and I. We need to reimagine housing solutions and work with those qualified to create them. We also need to ensure that those who want to work can - reopening our stores and restaurants so that they can responsibly manage COVID concerns and bring people back to work will help with housing insecurity. Homelessness is best addressed by Private/Public partnerships and working on identifying the “why” behind the lack of housing.
Communication is key. When a former City Councilwoman can not easily find what Board positions are open at the City - how easy is it for the average citizen? We should encourage our online information to be clear and easily accessible - considering click rates clear access buttons. As the Councilwoman for District 5, I’m committed to sharing information on my public social media pages, via quarterly newsletters, and at Town Halls. Citizens of our district should not be caught off guard with changes that are happening in their community. While some have said it is the Citizen’s responsibility to be informed, I believe that as a representative it is my responsibility to inform and listen to our community’s feedback so that I can take their voice to City Hall.
Colorado Springs has not done enough. As a small business owner who spent over $2000 in sales tax in 2020, I received one $50 check as the only COVID relief. If additional relief was available, I was unaware, and am not alone. This is a good example of support possibly being available but not being very well communicated. However, the City took a large portion of their CARES dollars and put it towards Public Safety which allowed them to not to spend as much as anticipated from their 2020 budget and move it to the 2021 budget. In doing this cost saving measure, they reduced their costs associated with COVID, but not our citizen’s. Government should always be looking first for opportunities to provide budgetary relief when providing for small businesses in our community. I am a small business owner in this community who understands these challenges.
I am a strong supporter of the arts and believe that having a vibrant arts community supports the overall health of our community. Dali said ‘A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.’ and I agree. At its base - art in our community inspires conversations, emotions and excitement. A great example of an area being revitalized and inspiring is the Knob Hill Urban Arts District - the Cotton Club piece has caused many to ask me questions which I am then able to share as a part of our community’s history. It inspires conversation and increases pride within our community. We should always try to accomplish this through public-private partnerships.
Thank you to our co-sponsor:
Citizens Project is a fearless, bold advocate and an engaging voice that empowers and challenges our entire community to embrace equity, inclusion, and justice.
Citizens Project is the watchdog that ensures a robust and transparent public process in local government for our community. - Gary Fornander, Community Advocate