Monday, January 19, 2015

UPDATE: Suthers vows to be a positive force for change

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 11:06 AM

Suthers took the podium on Saturday to announce he's in the mayor's race. - COURTESY SUTHERS CAMPAIGN
  • Courtesy Suthers campaign
  • Suthers took the podium on Saturday to announce he's in the mayor's race.
UPDATE: To correct the record, Longinos Gonzalez Jr. is a candidate for an at-large Council seat, not mayor.

——ORIGINAL POST MONDAY, JAN .19, 2015 11:06 AM—-

On Saturday, more than 300 people turned out at Ivywild School to see John Suthers officially announce his bid to become Colorado Springs' next mayor. Suthers has an impressive resume as a politician. He's a former district attorney, former head of the state Department of Corrections, former U.S. attorney and, most recently, former two-term Colorado attorney general.

His campaign platform is three-pronged: change City Hall's political environment, invest in infrastructure and promote job growth.

Here's his speech:
Friends - thank you all for being here this morning. I hope you all came because you agree on one thing...that it's time to get Colorado Springs moving again!

Well that will take leadership. And because I believe I can provide that leadership I've come here this morning to formally kick off my campaign for Mayor of Colorado Springs!

And we chose this site deliberately. Ivywild School symbolizes both the historic past and the dynamic future of Colorado Springs. This building dates back 100 years. Ivywild was among the city's earliest schools. Bob Isaac, who many say was really the city's first strong Mayor, went to school here. And today, thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of Mike Bristol and Joseph Coleman, it's a thriving community marketplace. So this place really does personify the task before us. We must build on the legacy and foresight of our city's founders and call upon the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of today's residents to continue the work of building a great city.

I'm pleased to be joined this morning by so many friends and supporters, many people I've known a long time and others I've recently met who are eager to get involved in our effort to make our city better. (Public officials, speakers Tom Neppl, Jeanne Smith and Wayne Williams, Mark and Alison, Kate in Djibouti, Africa, sister Sharon and husband Tim, Janet's sister Mary and her husband Dave, Katie Behnke, Kitt Smith and Katie Lally. And most of all I want to thank my wife Janet. Our marriage - our life together - has been a very interesting adventure. A big part of that adventure has been meaningful involvement in the civic life of our nation, our state and our community, Colorado Springs. I simply could not have pursued the public service opportunities that I have without her love and support and I'm so grateful to have her by my side as we embark on this adventure.
Suthers spoke to an enthusiastic crowd. - COURTESY SUTHERS CAMPAIGN
  • Courtesy Suthers campaign
  • Suthers spoke to an enthusiastic crowd.
I am very fortunate at this stage of my life to have a lot of different opportunities before me. So why am I running for Mayor? It's really quite simple. I love Colorado Springs. I've lived here all my life. I literally grew up with this city. Janet and I fell in love here, we married and raised our family here. We both found great jobs here. I want to help make those same opportunities available for future generations.

I've watched Colorado Springs grow from 40,000 to almost 460,000 people, the 41st largest city in America, larger than Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and New Orleans. We live in a large city, and cities our size either grow economically or they stagnate. It's up to us to determine the future of Colorado Springs. So let's consider our many assets and directly confront our challenges.

I say with a great deal of confidence that there is not another large city in America with a more beautiful physical setting than ours. There's only one Pikes Peak and there's only one Garden of the Gods. And we have many unique man made assets. There's only a few cities in America that have a service academy. There's only a handful of cities that have a top rated liberal arts college in the core of the city. There's only a few cities in America with a national leadership center. And there's only one city in America that can claim to be home to the US Olympic Committee.

And in terms of our city's potential for the future, its people are its greatest asset. There are lots of dynamic things going on in our community. The City for Champions projects, and in particular the US Olympic Museum, hold great potential to enhance our city. There are exciting plans in the works in terms of the future development of our downtown area. The growth and dynamism of UCCS has made it an incredible community asset. The Commercial Aeronautical Zone at the airport shows great potential. There's an emerging entrepreneurial environment in aerospace, cyber security, health and wellness, medical innovation, sports and so many other areas that we need to nurture and promote. It's the expansion of existing employers that produces the greatest job growth. We have dynamic non-profit organizations based in Colorado Springs that make a huge impact locally, nationally and internationally. We have a great tourism industry that has potential for significant growth. And of course we are proud to be home to so many members of our active military that contribute to our national security.

But ladies and gentlemen, Colorado Springs also has major challenges. Over the past 15 years job creation and employment rates in Colorado Springs have lagged behind the rest of Colorado. And we've allowed our public infrastructure - our roads, bridges and storm drainage systems to deteriorate. From an economic development perspective, we are not living up to our full potential.

So - what's holding us back? This is where it's time for some blunt talk. The fact is we have a local political environment that has not been conducive to community and economic development. While government does not create jobs and sustained economic growth, government can stand in the way. And companies that might expand here or move their operation here are acutely aware of the problematic political environment. They need a city hall that can help build consensus as to the direction of the city and which shows a willingness to perform the essential tasks that a city must perform, including providing the public infrastructure necessary for a city to prosper. It is our city's Mayor who must lead the way in building that consensus.

I'm running for Mayor because I believe I have the knowledge, the experience, the passion, the local, state and national relationships and, most importantly, the collaborative leadership style that it's going to take to create an atmosphere at City Hall that IS conducive to community and economic development. My leadership will not only be collaborative, it will be respectful - respectful of City Council, of city employees, of local businesses and non-profit organizations, of other local governments in the Pikes Peak region and respectful of each and every citizen of our great city.

Throughout my entire professional life, I have successfully worked through disagreements and in search of consensus. And I'll continue to do that as Mayor. No other candidate in this race has the executive leadership and executive management experience that I do. Folks - leadership is doing the right things. Management is doing things right. Over the course of my career, I've excelled at both.

So if I have the high honor of serving as Colorado Springs next Mayor, here's how I'll use my experience and my collaborative leadership and management skills to help move our city forward.

I'll work with Council, not against it, to make Colorado Springs as friendly as possible to existing businesses and to new businesses. That means finding a way to eliminate the business personal property tax and finding an alternative means to support the city functions it funds. And I pledge to work tirelessly in partnership with the Regional Business Alliance and a variety of other public and private organizations to promote economic development in Colorado Springs. I'll meet with existing employers and new business prospects to see how the city can assist them. I'll be the city's greatest champion on the local, state and national level. I'll lead the fight to maintain a strong military presence in Colorado Springs and I'll help the City enhance its reputation as one of America's best tourist destinations.

And part of laying the groundwork for greater economic development is working with City Council to tackle the city's significant infrastructure backlog. We should dedicate the vast majority of any increase in general fund revenues to infrastructure and carefully consider how to most effectively ask the citizens of Colorado Springs to invest in our drainage, road resurfacing and other infrastructure needs. The problems aren't going away. We must go back to the table and figure this out.

As Mayor I will ensure that Colorado Springs is a team player in the Pikes Peak region and seriously explore opportunities to consolidate and create efficiencies in public works, public safety, emergency management, park planning and information technology to name a few.
I have many years of experience working with police and fire departments and a wide range of public safety professionals. I know what a good police and fire department looks like. And while I'm pleased to report Colorado Springs has outstanding public safety professionals, we must ensure that they continue to be adequately resourced in order to ensure the highest levels of public safety for our citizens.

One of the greatest gifts our predecessors have given to us is our outstanding parks and trails systems. As our region continues to urbanize we need to continue to provide the open space and recreational opportunities that makes our city so special. That means finding the resources to properly maintain the parks and trails we have and carefully plan new ones.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a vision of a Colorado Springs where the infrastructure and amenities of our city are worthy of the incredible natural beauty that surrounds us. And I have a vision of a Colorado Springs with significantly expanded high quality private sector employment opportunities, so that in combination with the non-profit and public sectors, our children and our grandchildren, and people from all across our country, will find in Colorado Springs a fantastic place to live and work.

This vision leads me to the following three priorities for the next four years: 1) change the political environment at City Hall, 2) invest in the city's infrastructure and 3) aggressively promote new job growth.

Friends, I end where I began. Government does not build great cities, people do. But in order for our people to reach their full potential they need a City Hall that is a positive force for change. As your Mayor, I will devote every ounce of energy I have to create that positive force and get Colorado Springs moving forward again! Thank you for joining me in this effort.
Others running for mayor include Mary Lou Makepeace, Amy Lathen, Joel MIller and Longinos Gonzalez Jr. Incumbent Steve Bach isn't running.

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