Was that a city-wide sigh of relief that we heard as the election results were posted Tuesday evening?
"That's a good group," said County Commissioner Sallie Clark, while watching the returns. "We can work with them."
"We have six reasonable people," said longtime trails and open space advocate Lee Milner.
"Yikes!" said the clearly delighted Councilman-elect Tim Leigh.
And mayoral candidate Richard Skorman, who will oppose Steve Bach in a May runoff election, was equally cheerful.
"What a relief," Skorman said. "It's a responsible group, and I'm excited about working with them."
The good news:
• Four women on Council, up from one.
• Jan Martin's overwhelming victory, and Brandy Williams and Lisa Czelatdko bringing youthful energy and vitality to City Hall.
• The ostensible end of Douglas Bruce's electoral ambitions.
• The impending matchup of two responsible candidates for mayor.
The sad news:
• Sean Paige's defeat. Council will miss Paige's intelligence, enthusiasm and ability to both define problems and propose innovative solutions. Mad dog, stay involved!
• Tom Gallagher's strange meltdown. Despite garnering less than 6 percent for mayor, Gallagher insisted to anyone who would listen that most votes hadn't been counted, and he could still win. Tommy, we hardly knew ye...
• The end of Michael Merrifield's long run as an elected official. He served the Pikes Peak region well as a Manitou Springs council member and state legislator. Mike, welcome to the former elected officials club!
The bad news:
• Another election? In five weeks?
• City Clerk Kathryn Young's inability to produce final results on Election Day. Citing worker fatigue, Young abruptly shut down the process before 10 p.m., with thousands of ballots uncounted. That's not the way it works, Kathryn! You should've had more workers, or more adrenaline and caffeine.
Bach and Skorman have the same problem: how to convince thousands who voted for someone else to choose them now. If most liberals and moderates move to Skorman and conservatives go for Bach, Bach wins easily.
Game over? Not quite. Both candidates will have to endure intense scrutiny from the media, not to mention that of a suddenly focused electorate. Skorman may seem excessively moderate to conservative voters, while issues regarding Bach's character may loom large.
What about money? Will Bach's wealthy campaign donors reopen their checkbooks? Will Skorman's legion of small contributors come through? Will outside groups inject money into the campaign? Will it be a gentlemanly, issue-driven affair, or an old-fashioned, scorched-earth donnybrook?
• Our new Council members are feisty, self-assured and ready to rumble.
"I'm not going to sit there like a bump on a log," said District 3 winner Lisa Czelatdko. "I'm going to work hard ... and really contribute."
• From watching the newly elected Councilors, it's clear that the new mayor won't be able to run roughshod over them. Holdover Councilors Scott Hente and Bernie Herpin may be inclined to let the mayor have his way, but Tuesday's seven elected samurai will seek (and get!) much more. If you think Merv Bennett, Val Snider and the rest will sit back meekly and let Hizzoner run everything, you're sadly mistaken. It'll be fun to watch.
• As Kenny Rogers once sang, "You've got to know when to hold 'em / Know when to fold 'em / Know when to walk away / Know when to run." Brian Bahr, Dave Munger and Buddy Gilmore spent more than $400,000 among them, and got less than 20,000 votes altogether. At $20 a vote, the money would have been better spent at the slots in Cripple Creek — where, just to rub it in, I once won $18,000 on a 75-cent bet.
I know, I know — there's a difference between running for office and gambling. The casinos give you free meals when you lose.
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