Heimlicher, Gardner spar in District 3 council race

       Responding to a suggestion in the Feb. 26 Westside Pioneer, District 3 City Council candidate Dave Gardner challenged six-year incumbent Jerry Heimlicher to a one-on-one debate this week. However, Heimlicher refused.
       The exchange was the most recent development in a two-man contest which has become borderline unfriendly.
       District 3 covers the southwestern portion of Colorado Springs, including the southern portion of the Westside (basically up to Uintah Street).
       “I'm disappointed,” Gardner said in response. “I believe the community can only benefit from maximum amounts of candor and transparency. I feel that every citizen is being under-represented.”
       His offer had described the Pioneer's debate idea as “an excellent suggestion and I would welcome the opportunity for citizens to get more detail on the differences in our approaches to the affairs of our city.”
       In declining, Heimlicher used the reason that five election forums have already been scheduled over the next couple of weeks. “The District 3 race is one that will be highlighted at each of the planned forums since there is only one other district with two candidates,” he said. “Therefore, I do not believe a debate is necessary.”
       But in other comments, the incumbent has made it clear he is not happy with how Gardner is running his campaign. He has alleged that supporters of Gardner are distorting his record, particularly on the White Acres open space issue, and appealed to Gardner to do something about it. But Gardner's position, as he states in a letter in this week's Pioneer, is that he has no right to “police the views of individual citizens.”
       Heimlicher has also declined another Gardner invitation - to participate in a “community town hall” that Gardner himself arranged. Heimlicher claims on his website (jerryheimlicher.com) that the latter would likely “stack the audience with his supporters.”
       Gardner defended his town hall plan, saying on his website (dave4council.com) “my vision is for a free and open discussion.”
       Also declining to attend Gardner's town hall is Scott Hente, who is running unopposed for re-election in District 1 (which takes in Pleasant Valley and the northerly part of the Westside).
       The Pioneer's goal in suggesting a one-on-one debate was to let people contrast the views of Heimlicher, a supporter of a certain amount of city growth, with those of Gardner, who believes the city could prosper without growth.
       Also, none of the scheduled forums is on the Westside, so the chances are that Westside issues will not be addressed at them.
       Heimlicher has served for six years. The winner will get a four-year term.
       Ballots will be mailed to voters starting March 13. It's a mail-only election, and ballots must be returned by April 7.

Westside Pioneer article