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Next big (city) election looms just eight months away 

City Sage

Come Nov. 8, it'll all be over, and we can turn to other things. So far the campaign has been like falling off your bike, breaking both legs, going through months of rehab and wondering whether you'll ever walk again.

But cheer up! Whether or not your candidate wins, the world will not end. Hillary Clinton will not recruit godless communist lib'ruls to take away your guns and confiscate your cherished signed copy of The Art of the Deal, and Donald Trump will not return Alaska to Russia (throwing in Hawaii to sweeten the deal and make sure the Dems also lose a Senate seat).

Life will go on, and city elections loom next April — just eight months away. Voters in the six City Council districts will elect a supermajority of the nine-person body. In other words, major policy changes might be ahead.

In 2013, three sitting councilors lost: Tim Leigh, Angela Dougan and Brandy Williams. Leigh and Williams, with their at-large seats giving way to the change from four to six district seats, had to run in their districts instead.

Outspoken, controversial and flamboyant, Leigh took on Colorado Springs Utilities, maneuvered Council to support leasing Memorial Health Systems to the University of Colorado Health and made enemies in the process. In retrospect, he was 100 percent right, but that didn't help him in 2013's District 1 race. Don Knight walloped Leigh and three others, garnering 56 percent of the vote.

Prediction for 2017: Knight by a landslide. He's been meticulous, thoughtful and impeccably conservative, if often verbose.

In District 2, Dougan lost in 2013 to firebrand Joel Miller, who resigned in 2014 to run for mayor. Council appointed Larry Bagley to the vacancy, and voters confirmed Council's choice in 2015. Bagley has been a solid, unremarkable conservative. He has neither disgraced nor distinguished himself.

Prediction: Absent a compelling alternative, Bagley should prevail.

In District 3, Williams ran against former Councilor Tom Gallagher, former County Commissioner Jim Bensberg and former state legislator Keith King. Williams got 34 percent but lost to King's 39 percent. As Council president for two years, King presided over a quarrelsome, dysfunctional period in city history. After the 2015 election, Merv Bennett took over as Council president while Andy Pico became Utilities Board chair.

Prediction: Whether or not King seeks re-election (rumors say he won't), this seat is wide open. Plenty of smart, capable folks might take a shot, particularly if King steps aside. Will Sallie Clark return to the Council dais? Electra Johnson, if she doesn't win a county commissioner seat in November? Richard Skorman? We'll see.

In District 4, Helen Collins might have a hard time repeating, after she won in 2013 with 39 percent of the vote. Three African-American candidates split 61 percent. Turnout was abysmal, with 5,938 votes cast, compared to 11,000-16,000 in other districts.

Prediction: If the African-American community and city business leaders unite behind a single candidate and get out the vote, Collins is toast. If not, Doug Bruce's BFF might win a second term.

As for District 5, Jill Gaebler is thoughtful, independent, female and relatively young (late 40s). All eight of her colleagues are senior citizens, and seven are white men. Her voice is important, but her seat is hardly safe. Running against three conservative guys in 2013, Gaebler squeaked in with 36 percent. Her independence has apparently displeased power brokers such as the Housing and Building Association and Colorado Springs Forward, who might be happy to replace her with a more malleable candidate.

Prediction: Gaebler is smart, tough, and won't have any trouble raising money. Memo to CSF and the HBA: Don't waste your time.

In District 6, Andy Pico led a close 2013 vote with 34 percent. Pico has been an admirably consistent voice on Council, and has done nothing to displease either his constituents or the business community. He may be too conservative for your taste, but he's a sane, reasonable guy.

Prediction: If Pico wants another term, he'll get it.

The early outlook — expect at least two new faces on the Council dais. In the best case, Gaebler retains her seat, and dynamic younger folks prevail in Districts 3 and 4. In the worst, we get three stubbornly right-wing Doug Bruce clones — white, male and 60-something.

That would mean we're still Geezer City USA!

  • Expect at least two new faces on the Council dais.

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