Monday, November 16, 2015

Official results in: Manitou elects Nicoletta mayor

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 1:59 PM

Nicole Nicoletta - CHRIS COTTER
  • Chris Cotter
  • Nicole Nicoletta
Nicole Nicoletta will be the next mayor of Manitou Springs, having won the election by 10 votes.

Nicoletta edged out opponent, Manitou Mayor Pro Tem Coreen Toll, 878 votes to 868. The vote is not close enough to trigger an automatic recount, and Toll has said she won't request one

Here is the scoop from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office:

2015 Coordinated Election Official Canvass Complete

No Automatic Recount Triggered in Manitou Springs

[Colorado Springs, Colo. – November 16, 2015] The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has completed the official canvass of the 2015 Coordinated Election and has posted final official results online. The canvass – completed four days ahead of the November 20 deadline – marks the official end of the 2015 Coordinated Election. In addition to the canvass, the Clerk’s Office also completed a post-election audit. El Paso County’s election equipment passed the audit with 100% accuracy.

With the final results tabulated, no ballot issue or candidate race met the threshold set in Colorado law to trigger an automatic recount.

“We are very proud to have completed another successful election here in El Paso County,” Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman said. “With our emphasis on better processes and efficiency, we tabulated and released results faster than ever before all while maintaining accuracy and security. The voters that participated in the 2015 Coordinated Election can be confident that their voice was heard in our democratic process. I’d like to thank all of our elections staff and judges who worked hard to make this year’s election a resounding success.”

Final official results include additional ballots from military and overseas voters, and ballots that were counted after ID, signature, or other issues were properly resolved. Final official results are approved by a bipartisan canvass board.

For results, please visit www.EPCVotes.com.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Ballot inspections a big-ticket project

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 6:35 PM

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition has published a blog post regarding the cost of inspecting ballots.

From the post:
[S]ome counties are making it prohibitively expensive for at least one election watchdog to obtain the records he says are needed to independently audit the accuracy of voting systems.

Election integrity activist Harvie Branscomb made Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests of eight counties for ballot records from the Nov. 3 election. As indicated by email threads posted on his blog, Douglas County wanted an upfront deposit of $4,000 to examine about 88,000 ballot scans for marks that could identify individual voters and then redact any such marks from the copies.

Mesa County quoted Branscomb $1,500 to similarly process about 29,000 ballot scans before releasing them, and Garfield County wanted $990 for about 11,000 scans. Jefferson County asked for advance payment of $12,475 to review and redact about 185,000 ballot scans.
That made us wonder if there's a similar story in El Paso County. Clerk and Recorder spokesman Ryan Parsell says the office hasn't received such requests for many years, but as a general rule, the Clerk and Recorder's Office doesn't charge for CORA requests. He also says the county's system differs from others in that there's no need to remove anything from the ballot. That's because there are no markings that enable a ballot to be traced back to the individual who voted it.

Parsell says several counties, including those named in the CFOIC blog post, are testing systems that might be certified for future elections. It's unlikely any of those systems will be required for the 2016 presidential election, because replacement costs are so high that most counties couldn't afford them. For example, El Paso County's price would be about $4 million, he says. Counties are hoping that when certain equipment is specified for use in future elections, the state will chip in to cover the cost.

Meantime, the vote canvas for the November 3 election will be completed Monday. Military ballots from overseas were due Thursday, and not many had been received. That could mean the outcome of the Manitou Springs mayoral race, which was decided by just a handful of votes, won't change, although Parsell won't comment on election results at this time.
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

UPDATE: Toll won't ask for a recount in Manitou mayoral race

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 5:27 PM

Coreen Toll says she will waive her right to request a recount (and pay for the service) if the election does not swing in her favor. Toll is currently losing the race for Manitou Springs mayor by 10 votes, though additional votes could alter the count.

“I will happily go with whatever the count is,” she says. 

At this point, a difference of five votes or less would trigger an automatic recount.


Coreen Toll watches the election results at The Keg in Manitou Springs last night. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Coreen Toll watches the election results at The Keg in Manitou Springs last night.
Manitou Springs residents may have to wait two more weeks, until Nov. 20, to find out who their next mayor will be.

Nicole Nicoletta currently has a 10-vote lead over opponent Coreen Toll — 877 votes to 867 votes. That margin could shift in the next few weeks if more votes are counted. El Paso County Clerk and Recorder spokesperson Ryan Parsell explains that there are really two factors at play. First, 13 votes are in limbo because the ballots either lacked a signature, or the signature had a discrepancy with records. Those ballots could be counted if voters respond to a letter by Nov. 12. Parsell says his office does not know how the 13 ballots would affect the mayoral vote totals.

Second, the clerk's office sent 24 ballots overseas to eligible voters. Only one has been returned thus far, but the ballots can be counted if they are received by Nov. 12. Parsell says it's unlikely, based on past elections, that all 23 ballots will come rolling in. But some certainly could. 

Given the close margin, one might assume that an automatic recount would be performed. But at this point, that's not going to happen. There's some complicated math that determines when an automatic recount is needed (you can check it out in the press release below), but the way the vote stands right now, Toll and Nicoletta would need to be separated by five votes or fewer to trigger a recount.

Parsell says either candidate — or anyone — could request a recount if an automatic recount is not required. But the requester would have to pay for the recount. Parsell says his office has not calculated the price tag for a recount, but it would likely be thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars.

The clerk's office has until Nov. 20 to issue final results for the race, though Parsell says the office is often able to release the information a few days early.

Toll appeared to be winning the election by a slim margin throughout most of election night, but the tide turned in the late hours, with Nicoletta taking the lead. Turnout in Manitou Springs was a respectable 55 percent (1,947 ballots returned of 3,535 issued). About 47 percent of eligible Manitou voters cast a vote for mayor (1,686.)

Nicole Nicoletta has a 10 vote lead. - CHRIS COTTER
  • Chris Cotter
  • Nicole Nicoletta has a 10 vote lead.
Clerk’s Office Releases Final Unofficial Count, Outlines Recount Procedures

[Colorado Springs, Colo. – November 3, 2015] The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has counted all ballots returned by 7:00 p.m. today. The results now posted to www.EPCVotes.com represent the final unofficial results. Those results will stand until any ballots from military and overseas voters or voters with signature or ID issues—who have an additional eight days to return or cure their ballot—and the official canvass is complete.

Due to the closeness of the race for Manitou Springs Mayor, the Clerk’s Office would like to explain the process for any potential automatic recount.

First, the official determination for a recount cannot be made until the deadline for military and overseas voters or ballot curing has passed and the Clerk’s Office completes the official canvass. Under Colorado law, the deadline for military and overseas ballots to be returned to the Clerk’s Office is November 12 (eight days plus one day for the observance of Veteran’s Day). The deadline for the Clerk’s Office to complete the official canvass is November 20.

Under Colorado law, an automatic recount is only triggered when “the difference between the highest number of votes cast in that election contest and the next highest number of votes cast in that election contest is less than or equal to one-half of one percent of the highest vote cast in that election contest.”(C.R.S 1-10.5-101) This is not the same as candidates or a question being separated by a 0.5% difference of the percentages reported. The Clerk’s Office is aware that there will be some confusion over this difference and will readily help any members of the media understand under what circumstances a race could go to an automatic recount.

The following example may help. If candidate 1 receives 500 votes for 50.20% and candidate 2 receives 496 votes for 49.79%, the casual observer would infer that an automatic recount is imminent. However, the 0.5% threshold is calculated off of the 500 votes earned by candidate 1. In this example, 0.5% of the votes earned by candidate 1 is three votes, so candidate 2 would need to have three votes separating the two, not 4. In this example, the results would not trigger an automatic recount.

If an automatic recount is triggered, the jurisdiction affected is responsible for paying for the recount. A candidate may request a recount, but a candidate may not request a non-automatic recount before the official canvass. Also, under that circumstance the person requesting the recount is responsible to pay for the recount. 

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Procrastinators rejoice: There are now more places to vote.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 11:22 AM

click image Some bunny is more responsible than you. - COALY BUNNY
  • Coaly Bunny
  • Some bunny is more responsible than you.

At this point, you have until tomorrow at 7 p.m. to turn in your ballots. Congratulations, procrastinators, the last minute to vote is fast approaching. 

On the bright side, the El Paso County Clerk's Office is now offering more locations for voters. Read on for all the details and be sure to check out our endorsements here and here.

Clerk Opens Three Additional Voter Service and Polling Centers

Colorado Springs, Colo. – November 2, 2015
Voters who need to get a replacement ballot, update their registration, register to vote, or vote in person will have three more locations from which to choose starting today, November 2. The three additional Voter Service and Polling Centers (VSPCs) open today in Monument, Manitou Springs, and Fountain, giving voters outside of Colorado Springs a more convenient option.

“We felt it was important to give voters throughout the county greater accessibility to the VSPCs,” said Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman. “We also want to thank the people who offered these facilities for use in the election. They help us to ensure voters’ democratic right to vote is not encumbered.”

All VSPCs also have ballot drop-off boxes with 24/7 access. An interactive map where voters may search for the nearest VSPC or ballot drop-off location is available at www.EPCVotes.com under the tab Return My Ballot. The locations of drop boxes were strategically determined so they are located within a 15-minute drive time of 98% of all El Paso County voters.

The three additional VSPCs and operating hours are:

Monday, November 2, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m


The Clerk’s Office strongly encourages voters to return their ballot early at any of the ballot drop-off boxes. Voters are urged NOT to return their ballot by the U.S. Postal Service due to delays in delivery. All ballots must be received by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 3, in order to be counted. Postmarked ballots received after the deadline cannot be counted.

Voters can check the status of their ballot to know when the Clerk’s Office has received it by signing up for BallotTrax. This is a free service offered by the Clerk’s Office to El Paso County voters this year. It also gives voters an option to receive notifications by email, text or phone call. Voters can enroll in BallotTrax by going to www.EPCVotes.com.

Voter Service and Polling Centers currently open:

Saturday, October 31, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Monday, November 2, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Election Day, Tuesday November 3, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Don't mail your ballot

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 9:18 AM

  • Shutterstock
While we at the Independent fully encourage you to vote before the Nov. 3 election day, we would like to discourage you from mailing your ballot.

It's not just us. The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder and the Secretary of State also think it's a bad idea. Here's the thing: If you mail your ballot at this point, it may not actually arrive on time and be counted. Then you've carefully filled out all those little bubbles for nothing. We don't want that to happen to you. 

So go ahead, take that extra step, and drop off your ballot. You can find drop-off locations here, but we'll make it easier for you. If you're voting before Nov. 2, you'll need to go to one of the county clerk's offices. They are located at 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road, Suite 2202; 5650 Industrial Place; 8830 North Union Boulevard; and 200 South Cascade Ave. The clerk’s offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

I'm glad we had this talk. Don't forget to vote!

Secretary of State Wayne Williams recommends voters personally drop off their ballots

DENVER, Oct. 27, 2015 – Secretary of State Wayne Williams recommends voters who have not yet returned their ballots for the Nov. 3 election either drop off their ballots with their county clerks or use a designated county drop-off location.

Several county clerks have expressed concern that the U.S. Postal Service did not deliver their ballots in a timely manner. Those ballots that are filled out and mailed are, for the most part, sent to the USPS’s sorting center in Denver, and then returned to the county clerks. That’s why the secretary of state’s office is recommending ballots be hand-delivered rather than mailed to ensure they are received by Election Day. The Department of State wants to ensure that every voter’s voice heard in this election.

In 2014, a Colorado District Court judge ruled that county clerks may not count ballots that arrive after 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Information on locations for county clerks’ offices, voter service and polling centers and 24-hour drop-off locations can be found here.

Secretary Williams is committed to working with the postal service, Colorado county clerks and the members of the state legislature in order to improve future options for voting.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

UPDATE: Brewer drops out of county commission race following husband's arrest

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 10:32 AM

There are lots of reasons people drop out of political races, but according to multiple reports, Marsha Brewer had an unusual motivation for bowing out of the 2016 race for El Paso County Commissioner District 3.

Brewer's husband, Jimmie Brewer, has apparently been arrested by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office on suspicion of sexual assault on a child under 15 by one in a position of trust, sexual assault on a child under 18 by one in a position of trust, and incest. According to KRDO, he has since been released on $5,000 bond.

According to the Gazette, the apparent victim, a girl, told detectives that she had frequent sexual contact with Brewer starting in 2012 when she was 8 years old.

It's a shocking revelation considering the Brewers are longtime players in the local Republican party. And according to KRDO, Marsha Brewer is accused of knowing about the abuse and not reporting it.

"According to Jimmie Brewer's arrest warrant," KRDO reports, "the child said she told Marsha Brewer about the abuse but said Marsha Brewer didn't report it. Marsha Brewer sent a text message to the child in September apologizing for Jimmie Brewer's actions. "

——- ORIGINAL POST, TODAY, 10:32 A.M. ——-
Three current county commissioners will be term limited next year.
  • Three current county commissioners will be term limited next year.

The 2016 race for three El Paso County Commissioner seats is already getting a little tighter.

Marsha Brewer, a candidate for County Commissioner in District 3 has announced she will pull out of the race due to a change in her personal circumstances.

Three Board of County Commissioner seats will be up for grabs next year because Amy Lathen (District 2), Sallie Clark (District 3) and Dennis Hisey (District 4) are term-limited.

Sherrie Gibson, Tim Geitner and Mark Waller have announced for District 2. Alex Johnson, Susan Payne, Rodney Gehrett and Tyler Stevens are running for District 3. Longinos Gonzalez, Joan Lucia-Treese, Elizabeth Rosenbaum and Scott Turner have announced for District 4. All are Republicans except Rosenbaum, a Democrat.

Waller, former Republican leader of the state House, unsuccessfully ran for attorney general in 2014. Stevens was mayor of Green Mountain Falls from 2002-2012 and still is mayor pro-tem. Gonzalez ran for City Council in April.

Marsha Brewer, Candidate
El Paso County Commissioner District 4
Exits the Race

Colorado Springs – Today Marsha Brewer, a Candidate for County Commissioner announced that she would not seek the Republican Party nomination for El Paso County Commissioner District 4.

“To be an effective Candidate requires a great deal of time and attention. Due to a change in my personal circumstances, I will not be able to devote the time and attention I believe is necessary to be an effective Candidate and Commissioner. I wish the other Candidates and the citizens of Commissioner District 4 the very best,” stated Brewer “there are some excellent Candidates in this race and I look forward to supporting the Party’s nominee in June.”

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Meet Manitou candidates tonight

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 1:00 PM

  • shutterstock

If you're not a local politics geek, it can be tough to decide how to vote in a small town. Those elections sneak up on you and the candidates aren't usually big headline grabbers. 

Still, your vote could have a big impact on issues that affect your everyday life. In Manitou Springs, that probably includes parking, tourism, roads, marijuana, government spending, and environmental issues, among others. The easiest way to figure out how to fill out your ballot is to head to the Briarhurst tonight and meet the contenders. 

The Indy's sister paper, The Pikes Peak Bulletin is hosting a forum with all the candidates. The event begins at 6 p.m., and the forum starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. 

Read on the rest of the details:

Manitou Springs voters, candidates invited to 2015 Election Forum
Pikes Peak Bulletin newspaper presents free Oct. 19 discussion

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colorado – Oct. 12, 2015 – The Pikes Peak Bulletin, Manitou Springs’ weekly newspaper, will host a candidates forum leading up to the city’s mayoral and City Council races.

All candidates will be present. They are: Nicole Nicoletta and Coreen Toll for mayor; Paotie Dawson, Becky Elder, Donna Ford, Randy Hodges, Daniel Prem, Jay Rohrer, Gary Smith and David Walker for City Council. Hodges is unopposed, running for the Ward 1 seat, and the remaining candidates are running for three at-large seats.

The free forum will be the evening of Monday, Oct. 19, at the Briarhurst Manor Estate, 404 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs. Social time, 6-6:30 p.m., includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The forum will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. and end approximately 8:30 p.m. Candidates and voters may remain until 10 p.m. for informal discussions.

The League of Women Voters and Citizens Project will assist with gathering and compiling voter questions, which will then be read to the candidates by moderator Ralph Routon. A sign-language interpreter will be available 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Information sheets with each candidate’s responses to the Bulletin’s questionnaire will be available, as will candidates’ literature.

The 2015 Manitou Springs Election Forum is co-sponsored by the Briarhurst Manor Estate, the city of Manitou Springs, the League of Women Voters, Citizens Project, the Pikes Peak Library District, the Colorado Springs Independent and the Colorado Springs Business Journal.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Collins disses road tax in radio ad; Suthers responds

Posted By on Mon, Oct 12, 2015 at 5:05 PM

Helen Collins
  • Helen Collins
Several local news outlets are reporting that City Councilor Helen Collins is running a self-funded radio ad that asks voters to reject a proposed tax increase for roads.

The 0.62 percent sales tax would raised $50 million annually for five years, and is specifically "for road repairs/improvements." Collins, however, is claiming that if passed, money from Issue 2C would go toward a downtown city arena rather than roads. Her friend, the anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce, also sent out a press release supporting Collins' claims. He noted that Mayor John Suthers has said that only half of the tax would be used for roads, though Suthers has since clarified, saying that part of the money would need to be used for curb and gutter work. 

Suthers responded with the following statement:

“The claims made in the ad are patently false. As I have said multiple times, the sales tax revenues will go into a separate fund and will be dedicated solely to roads. Approximately half the cost will be for asphalt and the remainder for concrete, curb, gutter and sidewalks. Our roads are in a state of disrepair and our fiscally conservative city council and the majority of our voters readily recognize that fact. If we don’t do something now, our roads will continue to deteriorate. If the measure passes, we will implement a comprehensive 5-year plan to change that trend and get our road maintenance on a much more positive trajectory. It’s time to move our city forward and this measure aims to do just that.”

According to the script of Collins' ad:

Issue 2C is a $250 MILLION tax hike. It is NOT for ROADS. It is for the DOWNTOWN ARENA, to be built WITHOUT VOTER APPROVAL.

How do I know? I am Councilwoman Helen Collins. I cast the ONLY vote against issue 2C. Their bait-and-switch would wreck our economy and cripple family budgets. Vote NO on 2C.

They now admit it is for ANY capital improvements. And WHERE has that $680 million in road taxes GONE since 2005?

They tried to recall me. Now they waste over $50,000 for a phony “ethics” witch hunt. Anything to shut me up! Don't be fooled. If I don't trust City Hall, why should you? Visit RaiseTaxesAgain.com....RaiseTaxesAgain.com

I bought this ad personally—to SAVE our city. Tell your friends. Vote NO on 2C.

Paid by Helen Collins
The downtown stadium is a part of the City for Champions project. There is no evidence to support Collins' claims that 2C money would be diverted to the proposed stadium. 
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Williams changes election rules

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 1:22 PM

Wayne Williams
  • Wayne Williams
Secretary of State Wayne Williams is setting new ground rules for Colorado elections.

“We are making careful preparations for the 2016 election cycle in order to ensure Colorado sets the standard for access and integrity,” Williams stated in a press release.

The changes include the establishment of a Bipartisan Election Advisory Committee that will work to ensure that elections are accessible and fair. The new rules also aim to up security for third-party personal delivery of ballots and clarify the appointment of election watchers.

Military members and civilians who are overseas have been allowed to turn in ballots electronically if the area they are in has unreliable mail service. Under the new rules, electronic voting will only be allowed if there is no other feasible way to get a ballot in on time, and the electronic voter will need to sign an affirmation stating that they understand that rule.

“We cannot possibly know all the situations faced by service members who are deployed overseas,” Williams stated. “Sometimes it is not possible for them to successfully return a ballot through the mail, so we will do the hard work necessary to guarantee that they have the ability to participate.”

Williams also announced that he has certified four voting systems that will be considered for the state’s uniform voting system. Williams wants a single company to provide all the state’s ballot marking devices (both touchscreen and paper), ballot tabulators and count machines. He is piloting systems in different counties across the state. The qualifying systems for November 2015 are Clear Ballot Group, Dominion Voting Systems, Election Systems & Software, and Hart InterCivic. 
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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Young Republicans rocked the vote

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2015 at 2:13 PM

Daniel Cole - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Daniel Cole
Young Republicans showed up in higher percentages to the mayoral runoff than their Democratic or unaffiliated counterparts, El Paso County Republican Party executive director Daniel Cole points out.

In a letter to local Republicans, Cole notes that 21.9 percent of young Republican registered voters (ages 30 to 44, roughly) cast a ballot in May, compared to 18.6 percent of young Democrats and just 13.5 percent of unaffiliated young voters. John Suthers, the more conservative candidate, defeated Mary Lou Makepeace, 68 percent to 32 percent.

The Independent and the Colorado Springs Business Journal challenged young voters to "rock the vote"  in the election. The hope was that at least 20 percent of voters ages 30 to 44 would cast a ballot. Cole notes that 17.3 percent actually did — an improvement from 14.4 percent in the April city election.

Here's Cole's letter:

Dear Republicans:

Headquarters analyzed turnout in the May 19 Colorado Springs mayoral runoff. For most demographics, turnout mirrored the April 7 municipal election, but, if you read to the bottom of this email, you will find one noteworthy shift.

The short story is that the Republican Party again showed itself to be the party of civic engagement.

Overall turnout by party affiliation remained about the same as in the April 7 municipal election: the percentage of ballots cast by active Republicans decreased from 53% to 51.8% and by active Democrats from 23% to 22.5%, while the percentage cast by active Unaffiliateds and others increased from 24% to 25.7%.

As 39% of Colorado Springs voters are Republican and 23% Democrat, the average Republican was 36% more likely to vote in the mayoral runoff than the average Democrat.

The median age in the runoff, as in the April 7 election, was 60.

One demographic received a lot of media attention before the runoff: those roughly 30 - 44 years old, or born between 1971 and 1985 inclusive. The Colorado Springs Business Journal and the Colorado Springs Independent, lamenting that only 14.4% of active and inactive voters in that age range voted, challenged them to increase their turnout to 20%.

Their turnout did increase, but only to 17.3%. The good news is that Republican turnout is relatively high even among young voters: 18.6% of registered Democrats 30 - 44 years old voted, and 13.5% of Unaffiliateds and others, but 21.9% of Republicans.

If every young voter demonstrated the same civic engagement as young Republicans, the Colorado Springs Business Journal and the Colorado Springs Independent would have met their admirable goal.


Daniel Cole
Executive Director
El Paso County Republican Party

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Colorado Springs' choice for mayor: Suthers, in a landslide

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 8:29 PM


John Suthers
will be the next mayor of Colorado Springs.

Yes, it's only the first round of results, and yes, there's a ways to go before everything's made final, but with 68 percent of the vote so far, the former state attorney general is clearly cruising to a victory over Mary Lou Makepeace in the 2015 mayoral runoff.

Here's the info, released by the City Clerk's Office at 7:15 p.m.:


It's an outcome that will surprise few, given that Suthers easily bested Makepeace, who served as the city's mayor (in a council-manager form of government) from 1997 to 2003, in the April 7 general election. Suthers took 46 percent, with Makepeace at 24 percent and four others well behind her.

However, because he didn't take 50 percent of the vote, city rules under the relatively new strong-mayor form of government allowed the second-place finisher a chance in a runoff.

Suthers, who was term-limited as state Attorney General a few months ago, will bring deep local roots to the office. He grew up in Colorado Springs and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1970; after completing his undergraduate studies at Notre Dame, he returned to Colorado for law school at CU.

His first public service came right after that, as a deputy district attorney in Colorado Springs, and he returned to the office when he was elected DA in 1988. He served for two terms there, and has spent much of the time since working at the state level — first as head of the Department of Corrections, and then as attorney general.

Suthers’ name recognition, solid reputation and conservative cred helped him land major endorsements and donations during the mayoral campaign. After speaking mostly in general terms about the need for civility, better infrastructure and economic development on the campaign trail, he’ll be pressed to articulate specific goals and plans upon taking office on June 2, and probably before.

In at least one arena, he's wasting no time: Indy senior reporter Pam Zubeck says that according to his acceptance speech, Suthers will announce his selection for chief of staff Wednesday afternoon.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Cast your ballot in mayor's race

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 2:06 PM

  • Makepeace
Suthers at a campaign event.
  • Suthers at a campaign event.
The last chance to vote for who will occupy the executive suite in the City Administration Building is tomorrow. 

The runoff election between Mary Lou Makepeace and John Suthers, the top two vote-getters in the April 7 city election, ends at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
For more information about how you can still vote, click here.

As of Friday, 82,404 people had cast ballots out of a possible 222,602, or 37 percent turnout. The 2011 mayoral runoff drew 99,306 votes out of a possible 154,884 registered voters, or 64 percent. (The number of possible voters has increased due to a change in which voters are considered active and receive ballots.)

Suthers, former Colorado attorney general, has been burning up the airwaves with television and radio ads to use the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions he's received. Makepeace, who served as mayor from 1997 to 2003, isn't going that route so much due to a lack of resources.

Mayor Steve Bach isn't seeking re-election to a job that pays about $103,000 a year.

The Independent has endorsed Makepeace, while the Gazette is backing Suthers.
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Another mayoral debate announced

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 11:58 AM

From 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, Colorado Springs mayoral runoff contenders Mary Lou Makepeace and John Suthers will square off at Penrose House Conference Center's Garden Pavilion, 1661 Mesa Ave.

The two candidates got the most votes in a six-way race in the April 7 city election. The mayoral runoff election, being conducted entirely by mail, is May 19.

The event is free and open to the public. It's sponsored by El Pomar Foundation’s Forum for Civic Advancement and KOAA5, and will be moderated by KOAA5 anchor Rob Quirk.

It also will be broadcast live on KOAA5 from 6:15 to 7 p.m. The station is inviting the public to pose questions by emailing them to electionwatch@koaa.com. 

RSVP to Samantha Barlow at sbarlow@elpomar.org or by phone at 719-577-7033.

Two other previously announced forums:

At 6:29 p.m. Monday, April 27, KKTV and the Gazette will host a half-hour live debate streamed on the websites of both.

At 7:30 p.m. that same day, Monday, April 27, at Colorado College's Cornerstone Arts Center (825 N. Cascade Ave.), the candidates will appear at a forum hosted by the Trails and Open Space Coalition, KRCC and the Independent. The public is welcome, and no tickets are necessary.

Both events will accommodate questions submitted via social media.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Suthers, Makepeace advance to runoff; Bennett, Strand, Murray on Council

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 9:53 PM

The latest batch of ballots counted, released at 9:38 p.m., puts us just shy of 75,000 total. With only one issue still in doubt, we're turning in for the night. To recap:

For mayor, it will be John Suthers and Mary Lou Makepeace advancing to a May 19 runoff election.

Council at-large: Merv Bennett, Tom Strand and Bill Murray.

Council District 2: Larry Bagley.

Council District 4: Helen Collins will keep her seat.

Issue 1: The mayor will be relieved of sign-off authority on Colorado Springs Utilities contracts and agreements.

Issue 2: It's still a mystery whether Council will get to hire its own administrator and assume a few other responsibilities related to staffing. Check out these numbers:

Come back to the IndyBlog tomorrow for more on tonight's events.

——- PREVIOUS POST, 8:59 P.M. ——-

The City Clerk's Office just released info reflecting more than 2,000 additional counted ballots, but the only noteworthy change comes in the ballot question regarding Council being able to hire its own staff. Now only 82 votes separate the "no" votes from the "yes" votes.


——- PREVIOUS POST, 8:37 P.M. ——-


According to both Suthers and city communications professional Julie Smith, there were 11,000 votes not yet counted in the city clerk's first round of results.

 At this point, though, both Suthers and Makepeace are talking about a runoff election.

Pam Zubeck, who's at Suthers' party at the Mining Exchange Hotel, reports that Suthers spoke to about 150 wildly enthusiastic supporters, saying, “We celebrate tonight, but tomorrow morning we go to work. We need to make sure everyone who voted for us tonight votes for us on May 19.”

J. Adrian Stanley, at Makepeace's gathering at Nosh, says the mood was more subdued, but that Makepeace said the runoff would be "all about getting out the vote." Makepeace noted that in the last mayoral election, 8,000 more ballots were cast in the runoff than in the general municipal election.

——- ORIGINAL POST, 8:08 P.M. ——-

Former Attorney General John Suthers is well out in front in Colorado Springs' 2015 mayoral race, but the numbers suggest he won't be able to escape a runoff against former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.

The first round of unofficial numbers from the City Clerk's Office, time-stamped 7:38 p.m., show Suthers having received 33,214 votes, or 47.41 percent. Makepeace stands in second place, with 16,112 votes, or 23 percent.

Under the strong-mayor initiative of a few years ago, a mayor can't be elected without at least 50 percent of the vote. A runoff election pitting Suthers against Makepeace would be scheduled for May 19.

Meanwhile, former City Councilor Joel Miller has gotten 15.51 percent of the vote, and El Paso County Commission Chair Amy Lathen 11.21 percent. Two long-shot candidates, Tony Carpenter and Lawrence Martinez, have together taken less than 3 percent.

These numbers reflect 70,673 votes counted. Votes filed earlier Tuesday are still being tallied, but what's counted so far represents the vast majority of the take from about three weeks of mail-ballot and drop-off voting.

In the race for City Council at-large, two of the most well-funded candidates seem to be cruising toward victory. With three seats up for grabs, the early results find Merv Bennett and Tom Strand out in front, with Bill Murray edging Jariah Walker for third: 

Makepeace with supporters at Nosh. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Makepeace with supporters at Nosh.

Meanwhile, in District 2, sitting Councilor Larry Bagley is easily defeating Kanda Calef with 70.61 percent of the vote. And in District 4, Councilor Helen Collins appears safe from a fairly bizarre recall effort, with 55.38 percent of southeast-side voters wanting her to say on Council.

As for the two issues on the ballot, 52.64 percent of voters are willing to amend the city charter in order to grant City Council final sign-off authority on contracts and agreements made by Colorado Springs Utilities. (Council serves as the Utilities Board.) But it's a toss-up as to whether voters will allow Council to hire its own administrator and to be able to direct and supervise that administrator, the city auditor, and their employees and assistants. Right now, 50.16 percent of voters are saying no. That's a difference of 208 votes, out of nearly 67,000 cast on that issue.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

UPDATE: Suthers takes a bigger cash lead

Posted By on Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 12:50 PM

John Suthers is way ahead of his opponents in the money department. - COURTESY SUTHERS CAMPAIGN
  • Courtesy Suthers campaign
  • John Suthers is way ahead of his opponents in the money department.
Amy Lathen filed her latest campaign finance report yesterday, reporting she received only $3,225 in new contributions, putting her total raised so far at $65,409. She's spent $16,201.

———-ORIGINAL POST FEB. 2, 2015, 12:50 PM——————-
Former Attorney General John Suthers took an even bigger lead over his opponents in the race for Colorado Springs mayor with his Feb. 1 campaign finance filing.

Suthers has raised $190,096 and spent $21,318. His money is coming from real estate and development interests. the construction trades, lawyers, car dealers, politicians including U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, doctors and retired folks.

Second is El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen, who had raised $62,184 as of the mid-January but hasn't filed a Feb. 1 report yet. We'll update when she files.

Former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace has raised $30,825 and spent $12,936.

Former Councilman Joel Miller has brought in $9,102 and spent $1,174.

Mayor Steve Bach isn't seeking a second term.

Meantime, Merv Bennett has announced he'lli seek a second term as an at-large City Councilor, and issued this statement:
The Building Community with Bennett Campaign Committee Chaired by Jim Johnson of GE Johnson Construction, announced today that at Large Member and President Pro Tem of the Colorado Springs City Council, Merv Bennett turned in his petitions and announced he will seek another term representing all the citizens of Colorado Springs this coming April.

“In recognizing the challenges facing this community it is imperative that we keep Merv Bennett working for all of us noted Bennett supporter and community leader, Katherine Loo “our fragile economy and badly neglected infrastructure system are critical issues facing our city and Merv will continue to work hard finding the correct solutions.”

Merv Bennett who retired in 2011 after 40 years of service to the YMCA immediately began a second career giving back to the community he loves when he was elected to the Colorado Springs City Council in April, 2011 with the second highest vote count in that election.

One of the only Members of Council to receive a report card with an “A” from the Gazette and dubbed by colleagues and community as the “voice of reason”, Merv Bennett has represented the citizens of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region, on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Board (PPRTA) recently elected as Chair of that Board, on the Emergency Services Agency (ESA) Board, the El Paso County Board of Health, and the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Agency Board.

A champion for business and economic development Bennett Chaired the Nominating Committee for the Regional Tourism Authority (RTA) Advisory Board for the City for Champions, he serves as the Council liaison to the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance’s Board of Directors, that organizations Economic Development Council, and as a member of the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Board of Directors.

The approval by the voters of the Memorial Hospital lease with the University of Colorado Hospital System (UCH) is only one of Councilman Bennett’s great achievements. His efforts were tireless in establishing the Colorado Springs first Health Foundation. A fiscal conservative, Bennett established the City Audit Committee as well as recommending and facilitating the creation of working committees for the governance of the City and Colorado Springs Utilities including Budget, Strategic Planning, Finance, and Personnel Committees.

“Collaborating with others to achieve the best on behalf of the Citizens of Colorado Springs and our neighbors in the surrounding communities is my first and last goal” Councilman Bennett said, “I have tried to put the interests of the community ahead of personal ambition and believe that this has been one of my accomplishments while maintaining my integrity and dignity in the process.”
Others running for three at-large seats who have filed campaign finance reports include Isaiah Hess, Tom Strand, Longinos Gonzalez and Vicki Tonkins. Incumbent Val Snider has decided not to run, and Jan Martin is barred from second a third term by term limits.

District 2 hopefuls include Larry Bagley and Kanda Calef. This position is open due to the resignation of Miller, who's running for mayor.

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