Believe it or not, it’s that time again. Elections are just around the corner.
In less than a month, ballots will be mailed for the April 6 city elections. There’s only one issue: whether to allow ballot titles for tax or bonded debt increases to exceed 30 words, for clarity’s sake. But the real story is the six of nine City Council seats (districts 1 through 6) up for grabs.
Needless to say, lots has happened since the 2019 city election. The most impactful, obviously, is how the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into what was otherwise a booming local economy. And while the city could have been hit so much harder in 2020, small businesses that weathered the storm will still need forward-thinking elected officials to help lead us out of this crisis and ensure a swift recovery. That means councilors who are both pro-business and who have trust in science and our public health institutions. At this point, with half a million dead and vaccinations continuing their bumpy but improving rollout, moving the COVID dial in any direction but toward Green is unacceptable.
But the coronavirus response is only a small piece of the to-do list awaiting the newly elected and incumbents come April.
Affordable housing still remains a serious issue, and one that could actually cost Colorado Springs Space Command, despite an investigator general’s deeper look into the command’s pending move to Alabama. And there’s still a significant population in the city without homes at all.
And while not a new issue, the infrastructure surrounding existing homes — much of it in older neighborhoods — is falling apart all while the city expands east, building new homes and creating new strains on diminishing resources.
Sales taxes are already high in Colorado Springs — and there’s still a ton of work to be done. What’s the solution?
In addition, City Councilors will interact with the newly appointed Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission, which was formed in 2020 to offer advice on police operations and to improve relations between the public and Colorado Springs Police Department. The advisory committee will bring policy
recommendations to City Council, the mayor and CSPD. And while on the topic of law and enforcement, City Councilors could decide to have a say in recreational cannabis legalization within city limits, even if that means just letting voters decide.
As if that weren’t already enough for a salary of $6,250 a year, City Councilors moonlight as the board of Colorado Springs Utilities, a four-service public utility worth more than $1 billion. They don’t need engineering degrees, as recent events in Texas illustrate, but they certainly need a sound understanding of what a public utility does and the impact one has on the health and safety of the public it serves.
There was a lot going on when the city held its last election in 2019. The mayor’s office was up for grabs along with three City Council seats. But 2019 was eons ago. The landscape has changed and entirely new and surprising challenges exist. Still inchoate City Councilors and veterans will have their work cut out for them. But so do the voters. Familiarize yourself with these issues and where the candidates stand. You can start by watching our interviews with candidates at csindy.com/news/elections, then check out the Indy’s endorsements March 10. Because, like the councilors serving our city, the role of informed citizen is also a full-time job.