You’re the mayor of Colorado Springs. You’re exasperated with City Council and the Board of County Commissioners. They’re not paying attention to your frequently expressed concerns about the proposed Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority.
You’ve emailed, you’ve written letters, you’ve met individually, you’ve sent lawyers, chiefs of staff, consultants, public works directors, every damned director in the city, and they haven’t budged.
What else can you do? Not much, so you issue a proclamation, and send Chief of Staff Steve Cox to stand before Council and read it.
Mayor, what were you thinking? This was the first proclamation you’ve issued since you took office in 2011. Steve Cox is a great guy, but he’s no proclamation reader. You needed Don Pardo (the voice of Saturday Night Live) or better still John Facenda (the NFL’s “Voice of God”). Alas, neither are still with us, but proclamations need to be properly proclaimed.
“Does the PPRDA remind you of some kind of nightmarish real estate deal that will never go away and never close?” Bach was asked on Wednesday.
“The voters will decide,” Bach replied. “One way or another, we’ll know in November.”
It’s easy to make fun of the proclamation, but many of Bach’s concerns have merit.
• Given that the PPRDA is modeled on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, it makes sense to sunset the intergovernmental agreement after 10 years, instead of giving it a 20-year term.
• Give the city the option to manage stormwater projects that are strictly within its boundaries.
• Limit both the authority’s and the county’s administrative and fee collection charge to a total of 1 percent.
Bach didn’t touch on requiring that all PPRDA board members be elected officials. That’s the way the PPRTA works, but it was created before the bifurcation of city government. By designating the mayor and five elected officials as city representatives, the IGA gives City Council effective control of the board. In changing the form of government in 2010, city residents clearly intended to increase the mayor’s power and accountability. PPRDA does the opposite.
Yet despite the proclamation’s reasonable tone, it reads like a campaign piece. Bach makes it clear: He thinks proposed fees are too high, and PPRDA will be an unresponsive bureaucracy draining resources from Colorado Springs.
The April city elections are less than eight months away. Serious candidates for municipal office, especially mayor, should be preparing to announce within the next few weeks.
“I haven’t decided whether to run,” Bach said. “I have more important things to work on. We have to figure out how to cut $6 million from next year’s budget. There’s a lot of work to do.”
Whether Bach runs may depend upon the advice he receives from core supporters, who will note Bach has positioned himself neatly on the anti-tax right. Not a bad place to be in a local election.
Term-limited Colorado Attorney General John Suthers likely will make a formal declaration of his candidacy on Labor Day, or the day after. For many political observers, it’s a puzzling decision.
“He could snap his fingers and get a low-stress, high six-figure job,” said one elected official. “Why does he want to be mayor?”
Puzzling or not, Suthers would be a formidable candidate. He could raise plenty of money, his name recognition is high and he has been a popular, competent attorney general. It’s possible that many members of the 80906 crowd would abandon Bach for Suthers, reducing the mayor’s access to campaign funds.
County Commissioner Amy Lathen also is pondering a run and might announce within weeks. She has an impressive record of accomplishment and would be an effective campaigner. She’d also symbolize generational and gender change, and might benefit from the city’s new demographics. Political power has shifted from the Broadmoor/North End/Westside axis to the northern suburbs. That’s Lathen’s territory. As a young (47) conservative Christian woman, she’d have a built-in constituency.
Those are the big three, but there may be some surprises. Rumored candidates include Councilors Jan Martin and Joel Miller, former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace, former Councilor Bill Guman and term-limited state Rep. Bob Gardner.
“I expect there will be eight or nine candidates,” said Bach.
“It’ll be interesting.”