Get ready for ‘Everybody Welcome’ election in April

Mon, Dec 10, 2012


The sign on Fannie Mae Duncan’s legendary Colorado Avenue establishment was simple and to the point: “Everybody Welcome.”

Get ready for an “everybody welcome” election in April, when six seats on our powerful, ill-paid, and mildly fractious council will be up for grabs.

It’s easy to run. You don’t have to persuade the suspicious grandees and primary voters of either political party that you deserve to be nominated for office. All you have to do is collect the signatures of 100 registered voters in your council district, hand them to the city clerk for verification, and you’re on the ballot.

The candidates are already lining up. Some have announced while others are coyly telling only close friends and members of the local media that yep, they’re definitely probably maybe almost certainly running, while others are maintaining a discreet silence.

Here’s the lineup so far.

  • District 1 (Northwest) – Incumbent Tim Leigh has announced. A formal campaign kickoff is scheduled for early January.
  • District 2 (North-northeast) – Incumbent Angela Dougan has announced.
  • District 3 (Southwest) – No formal announcements yet, but both incumbent Brandy Williams and former County Commissioner Jim Bensberg will run. Incumbent Lisa Czelatdko, who currently represents the district, has told friends and colleagues that she won’t run for re-election. But, as one of her colleagues said, “Who knows? She can always change her mind.”
  • District 4 (Southeast) – No announced or rumored candidates.
  • District 5 (Central and east central) – Folks, we’ve got a horse race! Incumbent Bernie Herpin, non-profit exec Jill Gaebler and D-11 board member Al Loma have declared. Political outsiders expect that former CONO board chair Dave Munger might jump into the race, and add to the confusion.
  • District 6 (East northeast ) – David Moore, the pastor of the Gospel of Graceland Church, has announced. A political newcomer, Moore has lived in Colorado Springs since 2009. He’s an army veteran who recently retired from the Postal Service, where he worked as a senior manager.
  • District 5 is clearly the most interesting race at this point. Geographically, it’s the smallest district and, with a population of 70,654, it’s also the most populous. It includes the North End, Patty Jewett, and Shooks Run neighborhoods and stretches from I-25 to Powers. With at least three formidable candidates, it’ll be anybody’s race. The deep-pocketed donors who like to coalesce around a single candidate will have a dilemma on their hands.

Will they go with Gaebler, who has the kind of resume that local pols can only dream of? Former Air Force officer, mom, non-profit exec, charter school founder and 4:04 marathoner (two minutes slower than Paul Ryan’s actual time, for the record). And did I mention that she’s a woman in her early 40s? That’s precisely the demographic that Republicans need to cultivate.

Consider the amiable Bernie Herpin who has been an energetic, intelligent, and effective member of council. He’s admirably independent, and consistently available to constituents and the media. In normal times, Herpin would have no serious opposition – but these aren’t normal times.

Dave Munger has an exemplary record of service to this community. He’s put in thousands of hours of “butt time,” attending meeting and serving on committees for the benefit of his neighborhood and his community. He’s probably better informed on the issues facing council than are most present (and past) councilmembers.

Similarly, Al Loma knows local government, having been a member of the D-11 school board for three years.

All four are politically savvy – and they know that the clock is ticking. The big dogs (e.g., the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, the Housing and Building Association, the Regional Business Association) aren’t going to wait around.

“We’ll be interviewing candidates soon,” said HBA Chief Executive Officer Renee Zentz.

That means this week.

So if you’re thinking about running, stop thinking – run! Mayor Steve Bach isn’t going to call and offer his support – you’ll have to do something to deserve it.

And here’s a little advice from someone who has been there. Running for office is like your first parachute jump.

Once you commit, changing your mind is, shall we say, awkward.





3 Comments For This Post

  1. Frank Kennedy Says:

    Powerful Council? Are we watching the same body? Not so much anymore.
    District 1- Another 4 years of Tim Leigh’s shameless promotion of his business, flip flopping on principles and votes, and never shutting up. No thank you. Only in ColoradoSprings can someone run over pedestrians, constantly be called out for relaying wrong information, and serve in public office.
    District 2- Mrs. Dogen in all her Southern glory. Perhaps the next 4 years she’ll learn to take off the jeans and dress properly for a woman and an elected official. 4 years of getting up out of her seat, not attending meetings, relying on the Mayor for any thought, and probably still not reading or understanding a thing placed in front of her. God help District 2 y’all.
    District 3-Brandy Williams is flat. Only thing she’s relayed to public is that she’s an engineer and likes to tell off City staff, a lot. She does not speak good of the Mayor and has voted against many of his wishes so her time is probably over in April. Former Commissioner Bensberg has the name identification for sure but is tainted by being known as a harasser to the ladies and someone who wants a political seat, any seat. That ain’t a good enough reason to run. Jimmy talked about running for House Representative then for County Clerk and Recorder and now Council. Word in the political circles is he only wants to sit on Council until a position up at the Capitol opens up in 2 years. Mrs. czedatko has sure been interesting to watch and not bad on the eyes either. Her flash of a smile and snappy remarks makes City tv bearable and she seems to be one of the few who have a clue to what is going on. If she is thinking about not rerunning for Council she may just prove she’s the smartest of them all up there. You couldn’t pay most sensible people to sit on this town’s City Council.
    District 4- empty for now but with carpetbaggers like Williams and Bensberg, who knows where candidates will move into.
    District 5-Bernie Herpin is a solid Councilmember. I don’t know the other candidates but Bernie is a friend to veterans and that makes him golden. He knows procedure and Charter rules well.
    So Val Snyder, Merv Bennet and Jan Martin are left to lead 6 new Councilmembers threw the Mayor infested waters. Seeing how the last 2 years have looked in the new form of government, I foresee the next 4 years of not being much better.

  2. Rick Wehner Says:

    The upcoming city election might be a time for the community at large to develop an intense and piercing ‘candidate’ vetting process with 30 deep, detailed questions requiring detailed written answers on the top 30 issues facing the city and region. Questions requiring detailed numbers, projects and solutions to each and every one.

    The press and civic entities of the region generally do a respectable job of placing position questions before candidates – – that often result in responses along the line:”I want to give back to my community” without hard answers that will guide us in the voting booth as to who really has their eye on the ball. The fiscal challenges of the region have reached a point extreme talent in administration and a deep background in finance or municipal finance/or business background might be called for.

    If Mr. Bensberg chooses not to roll up his carpet and bag with a move to Dist 4 to have what might be an easier path to election – and winds up in a race against the yet unannounced candidacy of Mrs. Czelatdko – we have a bit of ‘drama’ for the local Republican Endorsement Machine as to who to support:

    Do we have a situation where Bensberg will get thrown under the bus so Sallie will have a better chance at the Statehouse by pandering to Lisa to have her support as a commissioner or does she remain loyal to an old party affiliate/supporter by throwing Lisa under the bus? Having candidates run who are not on ‘the bus route’ seems necessary at this point and time.

    The real question: are these the issues upon which we need to be faced in making a decision or do we need to focus on last minute ‘candidate development’ to bring forth candidates with a fresh perspective and no baggage? Has this coalition been an effective team in rebuilding the local economy – or do we need to bring forth those who are interested in producing results, not another election win?

    Lets give our new ‘economic development’ team(s) and the new RBA a fighting chance to bring high-dollar jobs to the region by rendering election decisions on the basis of who can do the best job in creating regional unity and cohesion in the competition with those cities who are creating jobs that need to be in Colorado Springs!

  3. Theodore Moony Says:

    He wasnt a good County Commissioner, what makes him think he’d make a good Councilmember?