Developers: ‘Strong mayor’ measure will add accountability to city government

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By Chris and David Jenkins

Being fortunate to be in a position to provide much of the seed money and funding for the Initiative 300 campaign, we wanted to explain our motivation and why we regard this as so important for the long-term health of our beloved community.

Frankly, our decision to invest this seed funding was an easy one for us. We believe that Colorado Springs is stalled, and that Initiative 300 will enable the effective, accountable leadership we need at City Hall to return our city to the economic and cultural vitality the community deserves. Over 200 people from many viewpoints responded and helped develop the proposal with us. Without them, this proposal would not have the momentum it has now.

We are small business owners; our company has less than 50 employees. Over the past four decades, our family-owned company has provided services to homebuyers, builders, commercial tenants and many others. We have survived several economic slumps, just as many of you have. We have built some very successful communities that are now home to thousands of people and hundreds of businesses. And our only place of business has been Colorado Springs and El Paso County.

Colorado Springs has been very good to our family. In turn, we have invested deeply in the civic and non-profit sectors because it takes all of us committed to each other to make a great community and a great city.

We believe that charity is best done quietly so we are not going to run a long list of our gifts and contributions. But suffice to say that we have made a practice of putting our money where our mouth is and have provided significant funding to many worthy organizations across our community.

Three generations of our family work and live in Colorado Springs. It’s our home. We want bright futures for our kids and families. We want a great quality of life for our employees and their families. We want an environment that encourages entrepreneurship to thrive.

In our view, local government is like a non-profit organization in that it is responsible for the greater community good. But right now, City Hall isn’t doing that job, and we’re very concerned about the future of this city if we, the citizens, don’t make a change. Our current system might have functioned in decades long past, but is no longer serving us well. With a part-time council, figurehead mayor and transient behind-the-scenes city manager, no one has ultimate responsibility. And the results are obvious: city services have steadily declined over recent years, to the point where we can’t even keep the lights on and the trash picked up. Council cannot articulate a strategy or vision for our community.

We couldn’t run our company this way, and as citizens, we can’t stand by while our community is run this way. The time has come for Colorado Springs to put a chief executive in the Mayor’s office who can inspire our community to reach its full potential and lead our city to make the same type of sensible, proactive, bottom-line decisions that we as business owners make every day.

We were raised to believe philanthropy is part of being a citizen, and that we must all give what we can — time, talent, energy, funds or whatever skills we have to offer. Since this effort started, many in the community have done just that to create Initiative 300 and get it on the ballot. People from across the usual political divides and from all walks of life have come together to support the Mayor Project. It’s the first step in returning accountability and leadership to our community. An elected mayor, chosen after presenting a vision and plan and winning more than 50 percent of the vote, will be more accountable to the citizens of Colorado Springs, and in touch with the problems, opportunities and priorities of the citizens. This one change will be the catalyst for a rebirth in Colorado Springs and allow our community to capitalize on its major assets — physical, economic and human — for a brighter future.

Over many years, we have been proud to be able to support many community-building charities and endeavors. We are similarly proud to be a leading part of this transformative initiative. Whatever your ideology or political viewpoint, we urge you to join us in investing in our community and changing it for the better.

David Jenkins founded Nor’Wood Development Corp. His son Chris is the company’s vice president.