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The other day our distinguished editor was bemoaning the fact that this year's presidential race promises to be the least interesting in living memory. Who will it be? Buchanan vs. Bush? Or Nader vs. Gore! Won't there be a Natural Law Party candidate in there somewhere?

Now doesn't that just make your heart race with excitement? No? I thought not.

Statewide, things are just as dismal. Neither Senate seat is up for grabs, and Governor Bill won't have to face the voters for another two years.

Locally, we can be thankful to the Dougster, not to mention former Mayor Bob Isaac, for keeping things interesting. But it's hard to get excited about sending the biennial herd of no-nothing Republicans to the legislature so us taxpayers can pay them for kowtowing to lobbyists.

No, if we want interesting politics, we should look a little farther into the future, all the way to next April, when five out of nine seats on the City Council will be up for grabs. Admittedly, it's early, but both incumbents and wanna-bes are already maneuvering for advantage.

All four city district seats will be in play, as will one at-large position -- that's the seat to which Judy Noyes was recently appointed, replacing Joanne Colt.

Vice Mayor Leon Young, who has served with grace and dignity for over a quarter of a century, is retiring. We'll miss him; and, no doubt, we'll have plenty of opportunities to honor him before he leaves for good. It'll be good to attend a Lou Mellini--orchestrated fete or two for Leon, but politics is an unsentimental game: Who's gonna succeed him?

Westsider Sallie Clark is the odds-on favorite, in the sense that Secretariat was the odds-on favorite at the Belmont. Promise Lee, Tom Binnings and Tom Gallagher have also emerged as potentials in what could turn into an interesting horserace.

The formidable Clark has been quietly building support in her district for at least two years, and, absent a spectacular stumble, should easily win the seat. Look for her to announce her candidacy fairly soon, both to cement her support and to deter any potential rivals.

Over in the southwest part of the city, incumbent Linda Barley is perceived as vulnerable, mostly by people who don't live there but would like to see someone else in the seat. So far, no potential foes have surfaced, probably because Barley would be tough to beat. She's been a reliable Council ally for the realtors and homebuilders, whose campaign contributions should continue to fuel her candidacy.

Absent an energetic and credible opponent, Barley should coast back in.

In the northeast, Bill Guman is term-limited out, and he's just going to have to look for something else to run for. Wonder if Bill's ever thought about running for Duncan Bremer's seat on the county commission? Someone is going to have to run for Bill's seat, but so far no one solid has stepped up to the pump.

Jim Null's district, which includes much of central and northwest Colorado Springs, will most likely send him back for another term. No one can please all of the North End activists, but the supple Null, who has dealt with faculty politics for decades as a professor at UCCS, has managed to win over most of them. He's smart, attentive, and reasonably effective; why take a chance on a newbie?

But the most interesting race by far may be that for Judy Noyes' seat. The winner will only serve the two years remaining on the term before he/she has to run again, but several folks are interested in running.

One potential hopeful is actor/talkshow host/sometime exotic dancer Alysabeth Clements. Beth, whose performances in Theaterworks' Shakespeare productions have illuminated our summers in the past, is probably best known for her stint on the Mark Brothers morning talkfest.

Beth's youth (she's 30), gender, and background will guarantee her lots of ink. In a four-way race against Judy Noyes, and a middle-aged lawyer or two, Beth could just sneak in with a plurality.

And in yet another intriguing possibility, some of our local activists are trying to persuade Richard Skorman to run for Chuck Brown's post on the county commission as an independent. Under this scenario, Richard would only run if conservative Republican Rich Brenner managed to get by both Chuck Brown and Bob Isaac in the Republican primary. If Skorman won, he'd have to resign his Council seat, and there'd be yet another at-large position to fill.

Richard, here's some unsolicited advice: Don't do it! The woods are full of unemployed ex-politicians who overestimated their own popularity.

And there's only room for one such columnist in the Indy.

And I need the job.

-- johnhazlehurst@aol.com

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