Meet the City Council candidates:

       The Westside Pioneer asked the District 3 candidates for basic personal information and to respond to a question. The personal information pertained to age, family, career and time in District 3 (which covers the southwest part of the city).
       The question was: With all five of the District 3 candidates from the Cheyenne, Broadmoor or Ivywild areas, their individual levels of understanding about the Westside may not be well known. So the question is something of a test. Four current concerns for the Westside's part of your district involve stormwater, traffic, panhandling and parks/open space maintenance. In 200 words or less, please provide as detailed a response as possible to how you will address them.

Jim Bensberg

Age: 58.
Family: Single.
How long in District 3: Entire life.
Career: Consultant, board member of Pikes Peak Region Boys & Girls Club and Colorado Springs Charter Academy, former county commissioner.
Response: Having grown up in District 3 as a third-generation Colorado native, and after attending many recent Westside meetings, I believe I understand the issues affecting the Westside better than most. From solving the jurisdictional issue of county vs. city law enforcement to working collaboratively on stormwater solutions, my governmental experience in El Paso County will benefit our citizens. I am proud to count Sheriff Terry Maketa as my friend and supporter.
       I am a long-time proponent of parks and open space and helped set up the original Cheyenne Commons open space preservation group, which worked with TOPS to establish a community funding source for trails.
       I am familiar with the ongoing plans for updating Highway 24 and the Colorado Avenue corridor and I support local input.
       Finally, I believe that more police presence is needed on the Westside rather than new panhandling ordinances. We can solve the problems which beleaguer the Westside by making sure its residents have a seat at the solution table.
Tom Gallagher

Age: 51.
Family: Wife, three children.
How long in District 3: More than 20 years.
Career: Survey party chief, real estate investor, radio show host, hotel general manager and aspiring author.
Response: It's funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same. The issues identified as major concerns of Westside residents are the same issues I wrestled with during my tenure on the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) board.
       Aggressive panhandling is nothing new to the far Westside. In the past, this problem was successfully addressed by stationing one of the CSPD mobile command posts in parking lot behind Starbucks. CSPD deployed officers on bicycles, who patrolled from the city limits east to 26th Street. The increased police presence produced a significant reduction in panhandling activity.
       The issues associated with stormwater require a dedicated, voter-approved, funding mechanism. That was my position during my previous tenure on the City Council, and it hasn't changed. As a district representative, I would make the Westside a priority.
       Park and open space maintenance is an issue I took ownership of. The current ballot measure goes a long way toward addressing the needs of the park system as a whole. I originally proposed this ballot language in 2010. Traffic is an unpleasant fact of life in the 21st century. I believe enforcement activity is preferable to poured concrete solutions.
Keith King

Age: 64.
Family: Married 40 years, two sons.
How long in District 3: 27 years.
Career: Former industrial arts teacher, state representative, state senator and business owner; founder/ administrator of Early Colleges (state-chartered high school).
Response: The stormwater issue is not just a Westside or Colorado Springs issue but a regional issue that requires participation by all governments in the watershed area. The stormwater solution must focus on those areas of the system most in need of improvement. Each governmental entity must determine how to prioritize the need for this issue in light of other governmental needs. I believe there are spending adjustments that can be made to accomplish the goal. I do not support a general tax increase for this purpose.
       Traffic on the Westside can be enhanced by the state paying its fair share to improve the interchange at 1-25 and Highway 24. We have been underfunded in the Pikes Peak Region by CDOT.
       Panhandling is a difficult issue based on a recent court case. We must make the Westside safe for all residents. I believe the number one priority of city government is public safety. The newly hired city police should help in this area.
       I support the TOPS ballot initiative that will be on the April ballot. I also support water rates for parks at a reduced rate.
Bob Kinsey

Age: 75.
Family: Wife, three children, four step-children.
How long in District 3: Four years.
Career: United States Marine Corps 1955-58; United Church of Christ clergy; former teacher in Jefferson County Public Schools, part-time instructor in community college at Front Range and Edwards.
Response: As a result of the Waldo Canyon Fire, run-off threatens to be greater than in the past. Proper management of stormwater is also part of the Southern Delivery System agreement. Attempts to properly fund stormwater systems via Stormwater Enterprise (a responsible attempt at a special district) was defeated by the voters before Waldo. The specific needs to upgrade our system were identified and priced before Waldo Canyon. Strangely, city and county leaders begged for emergency aid while at the same time denying global warming, which facilitated Waldo Canyon and Sandy, and the need for implementing sustainability planning.
       Colorado per capita spending on stormwater management is greater than $50. Colorado Springs and El Paso county are below $5 per capita. I favor a special district (FCWD) mill levy. Create jobs even for “panhandlers” to complete the identified projects and maintain the system.
       I find the Pikes Peak Sustainability Plan identifies the source of traffic problems along Highway 24 and the needs for parks and open space. District 3 voters need to own this plan by electing a councilor who believes sustainability action is critical to the survival of our economy and way of life. How about Kinsey?
Brandy Williams

Age: 34.
Family: Single.
How long in District 3: Less than a year.
Career: Professional Engineer, At-large City Councilmember since 2011.
Response: The Westside is a crown jewel in Colorado Springs. As your City Council representative, there are several areas in which I can assist to maintain the heritage and safety of the Westside.
       Public safety is the foundation of a vibrant neighborhood and we need to continue the work of the Homeless Outreach Team, and stress the importance of enforcing both the aggressive panhandling ordinance as well as the newly passed 20-foot no-solicitation zone.
       Another concern on the Westside is stormwater and the flooding potential below the Waldo Canyon burn area. The City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County hosted the kick-off meeting for Phase II of the Stormwater Task Force, and the goals are to create a prioritized project list for stormwater needs and to analyze various sustainable funding sources and governance models.
       As the first vice chair of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, I will continue to advocate for the Cimarron/I-25 interchange and work with CDOT to complete the Midland Trail through Old Colorado City.
       I look forward to representing District 3, and I will continue to work as hard for the Westside as I have as your At-large City Council representative.

Westside Pioneer article