Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Richard Skorman elected president of Colorado Springs City Council

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 4:09 PM

click to enlarge Richard Skorman took his oath of office this morning and was elected Council president this afternoon, April 18. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Richard Skorman took his oath of office this morning and was elected Council president this afternoon, April 18.
A year ago, Richard Skorman was the bane of some members of City Council. He was leading opposition to Mayor John Suthers' land swap of city open space with The Broadmoor, which was approved by Council in late May.

As head of Save Cheyenne, Skorman led the opposition in a lawsuit against the city. The group lost in District Court but has appealed the ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Skorman resigned from Save Cheyenne to seek a Council seat in the southwest District 3 where he lives and where the open space, known as Strawberry Fields, is located.

Skorman fought his way through the election, and despite heavy spending in favor of his opponent, Chuck Fowler, he prevailed.

Now, Skorman is at the top of the heap on Council, having been elected on a split vote today, April 18, to be president.

Voting for him were Bill Murray, Jill Gaebler, Yolanda Avila, David Geislinger and Skorman himself. Voting for Merv Bennett, who's served as president the last two years, were Andy Pico, Don Knight, Tom Strand and Bennett himself.

Gaebler wound up holding on to her president pro tem seat by the same vote split.

So that's the way it shook out with the newbies having a say — Avila, Skorman and Geislinger. Will this mean future 5-4 votes down those same lines? Hard to say.

Meantime, we asked Skorman, who previously served on Council from 1999 to 2007, how he feels about his new position. Reached by phone, he says, "I'm excited. I'm honored and a little bit nervous."

He served two years as vice mayor, but all of his Council service predated the conversion to a mayor-Council form of government in 2011, so he admits, "There's a lot for me to learn," and adds, "Merv's been very gracious and is helping me already."

The president position isn't just ceremonial. The president has something to say about Council agendas, for instance, which can make or break a proposal.

"I'd like to make sure, number one, that Council has all the resources it needs to do its job well," Skorman says. "I'd like to weigh in on what's put in front of Council and make sure this Council can be constructive and proactive on issues we care about.

"The devil's in the details, but certainly, I want to make sure there's that balance, and the mayor isn't getting only his own issues on the agenda," Skorman says, adding that the April 4 election "sent a message."

Skorman will begin his new role presiding at the April 24 and 25 Council meetings.

Tomorrow, Council meets as the Utilities Board at 1 p.m. at Plaza of the Rockies where a new chairman and vice chair will be chosen. Strand tells the Indy he's interested in becoming chair (he's now vice chair). Pico is currently serving as chairman.

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