What issues are important to you?

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In December 2005, three local leadership programs – the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute, The Forum for Civic Advancement and Leadership Pikes Peak – collaborated on a community issues survey.

Zoomerang, a Web-based survey tool, was used to gather and analyze data. Community leaders were asked their opinions about the most important issues facing the Pikes Peak region.

The findings, while not representational in a statistically valid sense, are interesting. In this first issue of Leadership Quarterly, we invite you, the readers of the Colorado Springs Business Journal, to take the survey. Visit http://www.zoomerangColoradoSprings.com. The survey should only take a few minutes to complete. In the next issue of Leadership Quarterly, results will be published to see if your answers agree with the findings below.

Key findings

The top community issue, chosen by 52 percent of the respondents, was effective community leadership. Community leadership received the highest number of votes by men and women, and from those living here from one year to a lifetime. Selected comments from respondents:

  • We need better leadership in so many areas of the community—City Council, the Board of County Commission, nonprofit boards.
  • There needs to be more of a focus on solving community problems rather than advancing ideology.
  • We can retain our quality of life as we change if the leadership identifies and addresses issues of agreement and concern.

The second priority, selected by 32 percent of respondents, was adequate physical infrastructure. Reasons why include:

  • There is a backlog of infrastructure projects that are in great need of being fixed. If left undone, we will not attract new business as we will see streets and drainage ways fail. We also need to improve our streets and freeways if we want to avoid grid lock.
  • We have to have the physical infrastructure to sustain inevitable growth and to help economic development. The physical infrastructure also is a concern to the military growth and support of the military in our area.

The third community priority, identified by 29 percent of respondents, was acceptance of diversity. More women (62 percent) than men (38 percent) selected acceptance of diversity as an important issue.

  • Diversity is important for a variety of reasons. The national perception that we lack diversity hurts us from an economic development standpoint.
  • We are known country-wide for our intolerance. This is a key factor when companies determine where to locate their facilities, and in retaining talent.

The fourth community priority, selected by 25 percent of respondents, was quality of kindergarten through 12th-grade education. More men (66 percent) than women (34 percent) identified quality of K-12 education as a significant issue.

  • Quality education impacts all aspects of the community, from politics, to business, to community development. We must always secure pathways for our young people to achieve self-improvement through education because this will inevitably lead to the improvement of the community.
  • Without great K-12 education, we will have no leaders for the future. A strong public education system will benefit those that live here, encourage them to stay, and bring new people to our area.