Hente, Brody express different views on how well the city is doing
District 1 City Council Incumbent Scott Hente and challenger Al Brody offered some different ideas - but avoided direct
sparring - during the candidates' forum sponsored by the Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) March 1 at the City
Administration Building downtown.
The format actually prevented both candidates from answering the same questions, except in a couple of instances. Additionally, the one-minute response time per question thwarted detailed position statements.
In general, Hente emphasized that while work is still needed and budgets are tight, the city is finding ways to move forward effectively; while Brody opined that affairs are not so favorable, alleging in his closing comment that “all the infrastructure (in the city) is crumbling and there's no way to pay for it.”
The election will be April 5. The winner will serve a four-year term. Hente was elected in 2003. Both men formerly served with the Air Force. Brody describes himself now as a “full-time volunteer”; Hente co-owns development and construction companies.
District 1 covers the northwest part of the city, including Pleasant Valley and the newer Westside.
The question of bringing jobs to Colorado Springs was one in which both got to respond. Brody said education is a big key to attracting good employers, calling on the city to be more focused on what's happening in its school systems. Hente focused on what he believes is a city success to date, saying that the city has been working effectively to bring in quality employers.
Hente took a position on a Westside-specific issue - the Camp Creek drainage in Pleasant Valley between the two lanes of 31st Street (which is in his district). He said this was part of the “huge issue” of storm drainage, city-wide “That's a very ugly drainage structure,” he said of 31st Street. “If I do one thing in the next four years, I'd like to do something about that drainage structure.”
Asked whether he favors combining the city and county parks departments, Brody said yes, “especially the ones from the county that exist in the city, like the Bear Creek Nature Center.”
A question about implementing alternate energy prompted Hente to note that he had voted against Amendment 37 (which passed in the last election). But he said he is trying to work with the law; he noted a legal interpretation that currently prevents the city from counting certain hydroelectric power as alternate energy.
On how he would bring about affordable housing, Brody said there is a distinction between that and an “affordable lifestyle.” As an example, he pointed to the lower-cost homes that were built in recent times on Mill Street. But without nearby bus service, the residents have a harder time accessing jobs and shopping, so their situation is less affordable, he said.
On the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), which has been criticized of late for preventing speedy recovery from economic downturns, Brody said that TABOR is a “great theory, but has put a stranglehold on our ability to make the city and state function well.”
Both District 1 candidates agreed that asphalt rubber (which is used extensively on Arizona highways) should be looked at carefully as a remedy for highway noise. The idea has been brought up by residents near I-25, who have complained that the sound walls are not that effective.
Hente said action is already occurring on the issue. “We have failed to get (state transportation officials) on board with this (asphalt rubber), so we are doing a couple of test programs in Colorado Springs,” he said.
Brody, an avid bicyclist, said he has been impressed with asphalt rubber on trails he's been on. He also suggested that noise on I-25 would be less if traffic did not go so fast.
District 3 City Council member Jerry Heimlicher, running unopposed, also took part in the meeting. He made his strongest statement in opposition to the initiative ballot question regarding the convention center. Heimlicher said the question is “ridiculous,” in part because of contradictory wording that stipulates council members can't plan a convention center but must have detailed information about it.
He also provided the night's shortest answer and possibly its biggest laugh. In response to whether he thought merging city and county parks was a good idea and what that would be like, Heimlicher responded (before expounding further in the minute allotted), “Yes. Better.”
Westside Pioneer article