By the end of this week, the envelopes should arrive. Inside, you and 150,000 or so other residents of Colorado Springs will find the simplest of election ballots.
One race, two candidates, one choice.
Richard Skorman or Steve Bach will become the city's first strong mayor, depending on this outcome, and we'll quickly move into the uncharted wilderness. The new mayor will be running virtually everything, without nearly as much of a safety net as predecessors have had.
If all goes well, the next few months will convince us that our new elected leader has the wisdom — and, perhaps more importantly, the right people around him — to take charge of city government in a smooth, confident manner. Or perhaps we'll be watching and chronicling the stumbles, mishaps and wrong turns of an ill-prepared and uncertain chief executive.
Skorman, if he wins, looks capable of taking control from Day One: putting key people in top posts, while deliberately working to select a chief of staff; getting out in the community; coming up with instant new ideas for building progress and unity across Colorado Springs.
Bach, if he prevails, probably would have to bring in that chief of staff immediately to help him avoid the land mines that could damage his credibility from the start. He'd be much slower in coming up with a city budget, and while some might view that in a positive way, it could become a hindrance.
Of course, there are many who aren't really thinking in these terms at all.
Thousands of Springs residents are simply seeing this as a partisan race, even though it's not supposed to be. To them, this is a sensible Republican against a dangerous liberal Democrat.
That's wrong. Bach might be a Republican, but Skorman's an independent. Both qualify as fiscal conservatives. Nobody seems to comprehend that Skorman had to be, or he wouldn't have succeeded in his downtown businesses as he has.
There's another factor in play here. Bach has built his base among disenchanted local "Old Guard" Republicans, who have watched in growing frustration as the GOP power center has moved north and east from the long-established parts of town. Many of them have felt neglected, even ignored, in recent years.
Bach lives in and operates out of Briargate now, but he has Broadmoor, west side and downtown connections and backing. Those folks, many of whom identify far more with Ronald Reagan or Joel Hefley than, say, Sarah Palin or Doug Lamborn, have somebody to rally behind again. To them, Steve Bach is an Old Guard veteran, a social insider who might take Colorado Springs back to the glory days of the 1970s and '80s.
Nice thought, but based on what? Certainly not charisma or eloquence in public, as anyone who has watched Bach in public forums and debates can attest. And definitely not a list of well-articulated ideas and positions, such as what to do about Memorial Health System or developing and attracting specific kinds of companies. Skorman's the one with clearer plans for transit, parks, road priorities, community centers, all those attributes that must be revitalized for Colorado Springs to thrive in years and decades to come.
To anyone uncertain about how to vote, but especially those considering Bach, here's my suggestion: Don't vote yet. Put that ballot in a safe place, and don't make a hasty decision.
Watch the candidates over the next two weeks, as they deal with the maximum load of pressure. See how they handle the stress. Pay attention to what happens in their remaining public appearances, together and separate. Also, see what other revelations might come out regarding either one.
You don't have to submit that ballot until May 17. And as important as this runoff is, nothing would be worse than to have thousands of early votes turned in — followed by a late headline, a burst of brilliance or a colossal blunder, that would leave many people regretting their needless rush to judgment. Who cares if 75 percent of the ballots aren't returned until the final few days?
Something tells me that, if you wait, in the end you'll be relieved that you did.
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