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Noted: 2010 election shaping up 

It's Balink vs. Bensberg

The 2010 election season could be a humdinger, with Republicans butting heads in three primary races and incumbents driven from office by term limits scrambling to find another elected job.

As of today, the main event appears to be El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink and Commissioner Jim Bensberg, both term-limited, have filed for county treasurer, possibly setting up the first Republican primary for that office in recent memory. Both filed paperwork last week, so neither has submitted a campaign finance report.

Bensberg was surprised that Balink didn't inform him about running, saying he told Balink three months ago he planned to seek the treasurer job. "I have many skills I've accumulated over the years working at state, federal and local levels that can be applied to county government," Bensberg says. Balink could not be reached for comment.

The clerk's race will include current Treasurer Sandra Damron and Commissioner Wayne Williams, both term-limited Republicans, as well as Charles Corry. That winner will face Public Trustee Tom Mowle, a Democrat, in November. And there's a four-way Republican matchup for commissioner in District 5. — PZ

Weinstein fights death wish

Mikey Weinstein is known for fighting the big fight, railing against religious indoctrination at the Air Force Academy and the influence of evangelicals in the military. Now it's more personal, as he pursues a lawsuit against former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt and a sponsoring organization for standing behind prayers calling for the deaths of Weinstein and his family.

This fight could address whether "imprecatory," or curse, prayers are protected by the First Amendment.

"You don't have the right to shout 'fire' in a crowded theater," Weinstein says, arguing that Klingenchmitt's prayers, broadcast online earlier this year, call for supporters to harm Weinstein and his family.

Klingenschmitt, a Colorado Springs resident and founder of the Pray in Jesus Name Project, cited "Psalm 109 against the enemies of religious liberty" as he prayed by name about Weinstein and another advocate for separation of church and state. "Let their days be few, and replace them with Godly people," Klingenschmitt said. "Plunder their fields and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants, and remember their sins."

Klingenschmitt did not return a call from the Independent. Weinstein, a 1977 AFA graduate, is founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. — AL

Snyder wins in Manitou

Marc Snyder knew the suspense might last for a while Tuesday night in the Manitou Springs mayoral race, but he wasn't complaining after the final results gave him a close victory over Rick Barry.

Snyder, a second-term Manitou City Councilman, defeated Barry by a 756-691 margin, or about 50 percent to 45 percent. Snyder will replace Eric Drummond, who didn't seek a second term, on Jan. 5.

"I'm so honored to have this chance, and to be able to get some new ideas out there," Snyder says. "I'm looking forward to bringing the business community back into the fold. There's a lot of talent in this town, but I also know that it takes more than one person to get anything done. The mayor needs three votes or nothing happens. The best part is that we'll have a great Council working together."

Matt Carpenter won the only contested Council race, easily defeating Karen Cullen. Newcomers Ingrid Richter and Michael Gerbig ran unopposed for other seats. — RR

Mann, Long, Loma take D-11

In the Colorado Springs School District 11 board race, Sandra Mann, the only incumbent among five candidates seeking three spots, led with 34,202 votes, followed by retired D-11 employee LuAnn Long. But Chyrese Exline, the third candidate gathered with supporters at the Colorado Springs Education Association on election night, came in fourth behind Al Loma.

Asked to look ahead, Mann and Long note that budget cuts will challenge the board; Mann pledges to look "at every single program," while Long says she hopes cuts can be made less painful by partnerships.

Across town, Loma celebrated with supporters at Victory Outreach church, where he's senior pastor. A founder of Star Academy Charter School, Loma says he wants to improve student achievement, possibly by paying teachers based on performance. "One thing's for sure," he says, "the current methods have not worked." — AL

HBA: a little indecisive

The Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association seems to have mixed emotions about city government as of late. It came out strongly against anti-taxer Douglas Bruce's ballot measure 300, which will cut financial ties between the city and its enterprises. But the HBA also opposed 2C, a property tax increase that supporters say would have saved city services from drastic cuts.

Now add this to the mix: The HBA board recently voted to donate to the city's fundraising effort for the U.S. Olympic Committee economic development agreement. Noting that a Nov. 11 deadline is looming for the city to raise the initial $1.5 million from the community, the HBA is encouraging its members to get out their checkbooks. Go figure. — JAS

Women warriors

For nine years now, the Women's Community Leadership Initiative has been looking for the same people: brown/black/brown/red/tan/white women, middle-to-low income, who want to lead our community proudly into the future but don't know how. WCLI, offered through Leadership Pikes Peak, is a free six-month program that meets bi-weekly to teach participants about their community and how they can make a difference.

"This program is unique in the state and focuses on a population not traditionally thought of as leaders," says Susan Saksa, executive director of Leadership Pikes Peak. "By teaching women about the community and themselves, WCLI provides them the knowledge and tools to effect change and build community while developing their own personal leadership skills."

The program offers participants dinner, materials and vouchers to subsidize child care during sessions. Classes start Jan. 6., but those wanting to participate must apply by Nov. 13. For more, call 632-2618 or visit leadershippikespeak.org. — JAS

Health advocates pushing

Back in August, health care town hall meetings across the country kept devolving, and the effort to pass some kind of reform seemed destined to flare out dramatically.

So it is with some surprise that reform supporters calmly delivered posters Nov. 2 to the El Paso County offices of Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet on behalf of nearly 500 Colorado small business owners hoping to see a bill passed. The list included stalwarts such as Poor Richard's, Old Town Bike Shop and Resolution Resources, a mediation services company owned by Mike Maday.

"You get a real sense now that health care reform is going to pass," says Maday, who helped deliver the posters. They urge senators to support legislation containing a public option. — AL

CC gets aid money

Good news for college-bound kids: Colorado College just received its largest-ever life income gift, and all the money is going to students. The $2.3 million donation from the James W. Austin Charitable Remainder Unitrust will go toward a scholarship fund providing unrestricted financial aid. And the timing couldn't be better.

Jim Swanson, CC director of financial aid, notes that the school was already in the middle of a capital campaign for financial aid when the gift came in. He says that with the economic downturn, it's very important to be able to give assistance to lower- to middle-income families.

"It's a huge impact," he says, "and it's a very generous gift and it will definitely help needy students enroll." — JAS

Compiled by Anthony Lane, Ralph Routon, J. Adrian Stanley and Pam Zubeck.

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