(Published 1:15 p.m. April 5, 2013)
Every election has its messages, and the 2013 Colorado Springs municipal election gave us plenty.
We learned that having Congressman Doug Lamborn on your side, as incumbent Angela Dougan did in District 2, didn’t guarantee anything. Dougan insisted she was the most conservative member of City Council, and that D-2 was the “reddest, bright red” district. Yet she was thumped by Joel Miller, a FedEx pilot and Air Force Academy graduate with far less money to spend but similar, more genuine values.
We learned that military service matters to Colorado Springs voters. Five of the six newcomers to Council (all but Keith King in District 3) served in the military.
We learned that owning a high-profile local business (Ed Bircham, Tim Leigh) doesn’t always translate into automatic success.
We learned that the path to local political success still is treacherous for a young woman such as Brandy Williams, but many voters are still willing to give female candidates a chance (Jill Gaebler in District 5, Helen Collins in District 4).
We learned that running for Council while serving on a school board doesn’t work (Deborah Hendrix in District 4, Al Loma in District 5).
We learned that, after redistricting, all six districts were not created equally, even if each had between 68,000 and 70,000 residents. But in this election, District 1 (northwest) had more than 16,000 voters, while District 4 (southeast) had only about 5,800. Collins was able to win in D-4 with only 2,342 votes, which ranked 14th for the entire city.
We learned that there was no truth to suspicions of Mayor Steve Bach being able to ramrod his own preferred “slate” of Council candidates to victory, with four supposed contenders who openly aligned themselves with the mayor losing their races (Leigh, Dougan, Deborah Hendrix in District 4 and David Moore in District 6).
We learned that the southeast part of Colorado Springs is impossible to analyze. The same area that last November sent Tony Exum, an African American retired firefighter and Democrat, to the state House of Representatives, chose Collins (a white ultra-conservative with close ties to Douglas Bruce) over three African American opponents.
We learned that 80 percent of the local voters have no appetite for paying City Council members a higher salary. So don’t be expecting that on another ballot any time soon.
We learned at least one new councilor, Don Knight in District 1, has forward-thinking ideas that should appeal to the business community. First, drawing on his military experience and knowledge dealing with utilities and infrastructure, he wants to make sure nothing threatens the city’s ability to fulfill major industrial users’ power and water needs at the lowest possible rates. He also wants to talk with the Regional Business Alliance and other business leaders about someday developing a medical and research corridor on North Nevada Avenue, between Fillmore Street and Garden of the Gods Road/Austin Bluffs Parkway.
We learned that sometimes being the smartest and best-informed candidate in a race can become the winning difference, as was the case with semi-retired defense contractor Andres “Andy” Pico in District 6.
And finally, we learned once again that this city has a mind of its own. Just as City Council does — and will.