If you live in Colorado Springs, you might have noticed there’s an election coming up. Or maybe you haven’t, judging by the already low voter turnout.
Read on to get a comprehensive look at the candidates and ballot issues under consideration on April 4.
CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES
To find out which district you’re in, go here.
Don Knight (incumbent): Knight has 26 years of experience in the Air Force, and 4 years of experience as a City Councilor. He also has over 20 years of government budget experience, and has worked on finding funding solutions for the city’s infrastructure needs without raising taxes or imposing fees. He’s been endorsed by Utilities Workers, the El Paso County Republican Party, the Colorado Springs Independent, and District Attorney Dan May, among others.
Greg Basham: Basham, who manages a window company, told The Gazette he thinks City Council could benefit from running more like a business, and asserts he’s the candidate to make that happen. He’s focused on growing the economy and creating jobs as a means for addressing the city’s infrastructure needs. Basham has received endorsements from the Housing and Building Association and Colorado Springs Forward.
Dave Geislinger (unopposed): Geislinger is a long-time attorney, turned Catholic hospital chaplain. He told The Gazette he wants Colorado Springs to start acting like a large city, rather than resigning itself as secondary to Denver. He wants to build more low-income housing, support parks, and would like to see Colorado Springs voters decide if the city should allow the sale of recreational marijuana.
Chuck Fowler: An entrepreneur and political newcomer, Fowler is most concerned with strengthening the city’s economy, and has pledged to focus on making sure regulations don’t get in the way of companies looking to expand in Colorado Springs. He has set himself apart from his locally well-known opponent Richard Skorman by branding himself as a fresh face with new ideas. In contrast with Skorman, he praised the Strawberry Fields land swap with the Boadmoor last year, and has said more public-private partnerships would benefit the city. He has been endorsed by the Housing and Building Association.
Richard Skorman: A veteran candidate, Skorman has served as a Councilmember and as Vice Mayor, and owns popular Downtown businesses including Poor Richard’s Bookstore. He has been a champion for water issues and the city’s open spaces, making him a favorite for the city’s outdoor recreation community. He’s received endorsements from the Apartment Association of Southern Colorado, Firefighters Association, the Sierra Club, Utilities Workers, and the left-leading advocacy group Together for Colorado Springs.
Yolanda Avila: A retired criminal defense investigator, Avila would focus her efforts on allocating funds for infrastructure. As a legally blind woman, she’s attuned to the city’s need for improvements to transportation, and aims to make that a priority in order to make the city more attractive to well-educated millennials who tend not to establish roots in the city. She has been endorsed by Utilities Workers, and the Colorado Springs Independent.
Helen Collins (incumbent): Collins is known for her attempts to thwart tax increases whenever possible. Although she’s considered the most conservative council member, she opposed the Strawberry Fields land swap, and voted to approve recreational marijuana sales. Her tenure as a councilwoman has been shrouded in controversy. In addition to being the target of a recall election, Collins committed an ethics violation while in office, and was censured by her fellow council members as a result. She told The Gazette that she does not “solicit endorsements by Establishment figures/groups because [she is] a reformer who opposes the status quo.”
Deborah Hendrix: Hendrix, who was defeated by Collins once in 2013 and again in 2015 amid the recall election, has served as president on the Harrison District 2 school board. Hendrix told The Gazette that funding the city’s longstanding need for stormwater infrastructure should be a top priority, but that making sure the city retains its college graduates is also high on the list. She has many high-powered supporters including District Attorney Dan May, the Housing and Builders Association, and developer Steve Schuck.
Lynette Crow-Iverson: Crow-Iverson, who runs a drug-testing firm, highlights her record as a businesswoman as an example of her capacity for community leadership. She favored the Strawberry Fields land swap, and opposes allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado Springs. Like many of her fellow candidates, she cites the city’s stormwater issue as top priority. Opponent Jill Gaebler filed a criminal complaint against Crow-Iverson’s campaign, which Gaebler maintains misrepresented her voting record. Crow-Iverson recently supported a controversial bill aiming to prevent “sanctuary cities” in Colorado. Her endorsers include County Commissioner Mark Waller and the Housing and Building Association, among others.
Jill Gaebler (incumbent): Gaebler has an extensive record as a community leader. A former Air Force officer, she has served on the Pikes Peak Library District Board of Trustees, the Parks Advisory Board, and co-founded the Colorado Springs Charter Academy. As a councilwoman, she’s been a vocal advocate for increased bike infrastructure and putting recreational marijuana sales to a vote, and opposed the Strawberry Fields land deal. She’s the youngest current council member at 50 years old, and has embraced the opportunity to inspire younger citizens to get involved in government. Some of her supporters include the Firefighters Association, Utilities Workers, and the Colorado Springs Independent.
Melanie Bernhardt: Bernhardt, a political newcomer, told KRCC she was motivated to run for office due to the current political climate and the election of Donald Trump. She has experience working in the non-profit sector and hosts exchange students from all over the world. The environment, infrastructure, and transportation are key issues for Bernhardt.
Robert Burns: Burns, another political newcomer, told KRCC he describes himself as politically unaffiliated, and decided to run for office to encourage collaboration. He said retaining millennials and fostering job growth are key issues the city should focus on.
Janak Joshi: Joshi is a first generation immigrant from India and a former GOP state Representative. While in office, he repeatedly pushed ultra-conservative abortion legislation. Joshi also has experience operating his own medical practice, although he had his medical license revoked in 2008 after he was sued for wrongful death and negligence. He has been endorsed by several GOP state legislators, including Senate President Kevin Grantham (R-Cañon City), and Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker) and House Minority Leader Tim Neville (R-Littleton).
Andres “Andy” Pico (incumbent): Pico was a political newcomer when he won his council seat in 2013, and now serves as chairman of the Utilities Board, as well as the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. Pico is traditionally conservative, favoring less regulation and lower taxes as a means for economic growth. His endorsements include the Colorado Springs Independent, El Paso County Commissioners Mark Waller and Peggy Littleton, and El Paso County GOP Vice Chair candidate Joshua Hosler.
Issue 1: Utilities
This measure prevents the city from selling off Utilities without more than 60% voter approval, rather than a simple majority, as is currently required. If passed, it would become significantly more difficult for utilities to be privatized. Supporters of the measure see ownership of utilities as a major asset for the city.
Issue 2: Stormwater
This allows the city to withhold $6 million in tax revenue deemed surplus by the Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) for both 2016 and 2017 to fund stormwater projects. The city is currently being sued by the Environmental Protection Agency and by Pueblo County for failing to maintain Fountain Creek, which causes problems for communities downstream due to excessive sedimentation and substandard water quality.
Issue 3: Broadband
This measure gives the city permission to facilitate, partner or coordinate with service providers offering internet, cable, or telecommunications services. City Council noted that many communities in Colorado have already passed similar measures.
For more information on how to vote, go here.