Two months ago, CSBJ asked readers a simple question: has Mayor Steve Bach succeeded in creating a business-friendly environment in Colorado Springs? 51 percent of respondents voted no.
At the time, our readers –as well as many city residents- might have seen as a well-meaning guy who was just getting used to the complexities of his job. He’d made a few missteps, picking unnecessary fights with the media, City Council and Colorado Springs Utilities, but he’d also brought a certain jaunty optimism to the Mayor’s office.
And now? Remember September 10, 2001, when President Bush’s approval ratings were in the low 40’s, and Democrats were licking their chops over the prospect of a one-term president? One day later, everything changed.
A few weeks later, Bush’s ratings were in the 90’s. The nation rallied behind its leader, and Bush seemed to grow in stature, to find the dignity and gravitas appropriate to his office and to the terrible events of 9/11.
Bush’s time in office was defined by 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq and Katrina. Tragedy gave him the opportunity to shape history; fate, hubris, Brownie and Dick Cheney led him to failure.
The Great Fire will almost surely define Bach’s tenure in office. In the three weeks since the Tuesday firestorm that swept through Mountain Shadows, he’s been reassuring, compassionate and visibly non-partisan. He’s projected strength, competence and dogged optimism.
So what’s next? If the city recovers; If Mountain Shadows is rebuilt; if the city’s resilience and generosity becomes the new national narrative, then Bach will move to a different level. Will he become, like New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, America’s mayor? Or will he, like President Bush, fail in the great task that fate has set for him?
That remains to be seen. But the state’s Republican kingmakers, who have longed wistfully for a transformative leader to drag them out of the political wilderness, may already be casting covetous eyes upon hizzoner.
Here’s a guy that voters can relate to. He’s not a dispirited, compromised veteran politician like Scott McInnis, not a vicious partisan like Tom Tancredo, not a rich moneybags like Pete Coors, not a right-wing ideologue like so many base-pandering young pols.
He could be their homegrown Reagan – amiable, practical, appealing and sensible.
So Mayor: here’s your assignment.
Don’t pick any more fights with the media, unless you just want a little practice before engaging the national sharks. And be generous and avuncular with City Council – you’ve made them irrelevant for the time being, so don’t kick ‘em when they’re down.
And most importantly: don’t invade Iraq!