Forum for mayor, at-large council candidates at Westside Community Center Feb. 24Mayor and City Council hopefuls will be up close - with a chance to be personal - for those attending a candidate forum sponsored by the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) Tuesday, Feb. 24.
The event, free and open to the public, will be in the gym at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.
The forum time range will be from 6 to 8 p.m., but an extra “meet-and greet” half-hour will be set aside before and after that to give citizens and candidates a chance to “get to know each other,” according to OWN President Welling Clark.
Less than a week before the forum, all but one of the six mayor candidates and all but 2 of the 13 at-large council candidates have confirmed they will participate, he reported.
A long-time advocacy group for the older Westside, OWN views the gathering as a chance for locals to learn more about who's running in the April 7
“By seeing those questions, they will get an idea of some of the issues on the Westside,” Clark said.
Included are such subjects as the public no-camping ordinance, redevelopment along West Colorado Avenue and neighborhood involvement in decision-making.
The forum schedule will start with the council contenders. This session will be conducted in two rotations “due to the large number of candidates,” states OWN's event program. Each aspirant will get to respond to a minimum of two questions (one of them taken from the advance list) as well as to present an opening/closing statement. The total expected time for both council groups will be 40 minutes.
For mayor, each candidate will field at least three questions (one from the advance list), plus give an opening/closing statement. The mayors' session is also expected to last 40 minutes.
The maximum time for any candidate's question response is 1˝ minutes, the OWN program states. The opening/closing statements are limited to one minute each.
Both the mayor's and at-large council races will be decided by voters city-wide. The electees will be given four-year terms.
Current Mayor Steve Bach has decided not to run for re-election. He was elected in 2011.
For at-large council, the top three vote-getters will be elected. Merv Bennett is the only incumbent in the race. Current at-large Councilmember Jan Martin - the highest vote-getter four years ago - is term-limited after two four-year terms. The other at-large rep, Val Snider, chose not to run again.
Here is a list of all the mayor and at-large candidates, with bold type on the names of those who have confirmed that they will participate in the OWN forum:
Mary Lou Makepeace
Yolanda L. Avila
Jesse Brown Jr.
Longinos Gonzalez Jr.
Jariah R. Walker
Council has nine members in all, three of them at-large and six representing geographically defined districts.
The next official council-district elections will be in 2017; however, two districts will be affected by special elections this time. One is to determine who will complete the remaining two years on the District 2 seat (vacated by Joel Miller last fall); the other whether District 4 Councilmember Helen Collins should be recalled. Those choices are specific to those districts only (in northeast and southeast Colorado Springs, respectively) and will not appear on the ballots for Westsiders.
OWN has previously organized candidate forums for city elections in 2011 (at the Community Center) and 2013 (at Centennial Hall downtown).
Note: The Feb. 24 date represents a date change from OWN's originally announced Feb. 25 date, which was provided for the Westside Pioneer print edition of January-March 2015. The date was changed because of a conflict with another city event, according to OWN.
Westside Pioneer article