Mary Lou Makepeace
is being discussed as a possible contender in Colorado Springs' 2015 mayoral race, which already has drawn
unofficial announcements from Attorney General John Suthers
and El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen.
"I am giving it serious consideration but am by no means ready to say yes or no," Makepeace said via e-mail on Tuesday.
Makepeace has previously served two terms as mayor, from 1997 to 2003. She clinched the office by landing a crucial endorsement from the late Mayor Bob Isaac
shortly before the ’97 election. She also had backing from city workers, the black business community and Realtors, and campaigned on a promise to outsmart problems, not just throw money at them.
As I reported in 1997 while working for the daily newspaper and covering the race, "Makepeace, who's worked more than 20 years in social services, ran on a platform of 'kids, cops and cars.'
She said she'll dedicate herself to finding ways to nurture and foster opportunities for children, bolster the city's crime-fighters and look for ways to ease growing traffic congestion."
But that was back when voters elected a mayor who had no more power, technically, than other members of City Council. At the time, an unelected city manager led many of the Springs' day-to-day operations.
Since 2011, when Mayor Steve Bach
was elected, the city has been run by a mayor-council form of government, which vests executive powers with the mayor and legislative powers in the Council. Bach hasn't made an announcement on whether he'll seek a second term, though he reportedly told a Republican club recently that he's almost sure he won't.
Makepeace has helped lead the Independent
's Give! campaign
since 2012. If she wants to switch gears and make a viable mayoral run, she might do well to get on board quickly.
Local developer Chuck Murphy
is a staunch Democrat
who speaks highly of Makepeace, who's viewed as a moderate with a liberal bent — she served as executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado
for years. He's already told the Indy
that he'll support Suthers, a Republican. (The mayor's race is supposed to be non-partisan, but you know how it is in El Paso County. All GOP all the time.)
"He’s a lawyer. He’s got tons of practice [experience]. He’s a native of Colorado Springs," Murphy said. "I don’t agree with all his philosophy, but I think he’s the right guy for this time."
(Murphy went on to sharply criticize the majority of Council who "vote no on everything," those being Keith King
, Andy Pico
, Helen Collins
, Don Knight
and Joel Miller.
Those members have expressed skepticism of the $250 million City for Champions tourism project
in which Murphy has a huge stake, being a landowner adjacent to the targeted downtown area. Suthers has told the Gazette
he supports City for Champions.)
When asked his thoughts on a Makepeace candidacy, Murphy said, "Mary Lou, God knows, is a brilliant woman committed to the community, and I think she’d be great. She did a helluva job before."
But does Makepeace really want to force some would-be supporters to retract earlier endorsements, official or otherwise? Longtime local attorney Greg Walta
, another staunch Dem, has already posted a comment on the daily newspaper's website in favor of Suthers as well.
We tried to reach Makepeace today to see if she's closer to a decision, but haven't heard back. We'll circle back when we do.