Meet the City Council candidates:
AT-LARGE

       The Westside Pioneer asked the 16 at-large candidates for some basic personal information and to respond to one topical question. The personal information pertained to age, family, how long they've lived in Colorado Springs and career.
       The question (150-word limit) was: What is your top priority (or priorities) if elected to City Council and how would you accomplish it/them?
       NOTE 1: Candidates supplied their photos.
       NOTE 2: Five candidates call themselves the “Reform Team” (to explain that reference in their responses). No other candidates have announced such an alliance.
       NOTE 3: The responses are listed in alphabetical order on Pages 5-7 and 10-13.


Merv Bennett
       Age: 62.
       Family: Married 40-plus years. Three married daughters and four grandchildren
       How long in Springs: 38½ years
       Career: Retired Feb. 1 with exactly 40 years as a YMCA professional, including the last 19 years as president/CEO
       Priorities/how accomplish: My top priority will be to change the culture in our city and to work to restore trust and confidence in city government. We can begin to foster an environment that is conducive to creating and retaining jobs in our community and for our city workers. We can do this by building financial strength through strategic and accountable fiscal management. Working with the mayor, City Council and city staff in harmony with local businesses, small and large, the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Corporation and other local governments, we can strengthen local business and assure that critical resources for a sustainable, healthy community are available to the citizens of Colorado Springs.


Ed Bircham
       Age: 74.
       Family: Married to Peggy for 48 years. Three children and two grandchildren.
       How long in Springs: 40 years.
       Career: Founded Bircham's Office Products 32 years ago.
       Priorities/how accomplish: Stopping wasteful spending, giveaways and handouts. Reversing water rate increases by curbing SDS. Preventing giveaway of Memorial Hospital. Trying to cancel or reduce 2009 Olympics headquarters handout. Setting city priorities as public safety (police and fire), public works (roads, drainage etc.) Regaining respect for City Council as public servants, not our masters. Ending punitive council retaliation for voter refusal to triple the city property tax rate in 2009 (no park trash cans or toilets, reduced streetlights, shorter office hours, more weeds, dead grass, potholes etc.) Restoring basic services. Reducing city taxes, fees and debt. Hosting evening City Council meetings.


Douglas Bruce
       Age: 61.
       Status: Single.
       How long in Springs: 25 years in August.
       Career: Property owner, volunteer author of several voter-approved initiatives, including the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) in 1991 (city) and 1992 (state).
       Priorities/how accomplish: I'm on the Reform Team, five fiscally-conservative business people who will work together to fix City Hall. See ReformCityHall.com. We'll stop the hospital giveaway and the SDS mess. That largest public works boondoggle in state history costs $10,000 per foot of pipe. (That's no typo; read our SDS essay.) We'll reverse water hikes. Read our 40 Examples of Wasteful City Spending. The city punished voters for rejecting council's 2009 ballot issue to triple city property taxes. We'll return those services. Weeds will again be cut, potholes filled, streetlights turned on, drainage fixed, public office hours restored, park trash cans brought back, and restrooms opened. The Reform Team signed the pledge against higher city taxes; most other council candidates refused. They want to raise your taxes; we won't. City Hall will be open and transparent. Please vote only for the Reform Team for the five at-large council seats. Thank you.


Richard Bruce
       Age: 66.
       Family: Married to Andrea for 33 years, with six children and nine grandchildren.
       How long in Springs: First here in 1967 when assigned to Fort Carson. Moved back in 1993.
       Career: Have owned the three Waffle Houses in town for 17 years. I also served in the military, including Vietnam, where I was awarded the Bronze Star.
       Priorities/how accomplish: I know how to run a business. The city needs to be run in a more business-like way. We are all business people. Read our biographies, essays, and Wasteful City Spending. The Reform Team, five fiscal conservatives, will stop the hospital giveaway, the SDS mess, and utility hikes. We need all five of your votes to have a council majority. The council punished voters for rejecting its 2009 ballot issue to TRIPLE city property taxes. We will insist weeds be cut, potholes filled, streetlights turned on, public office hours restored, park trash cans returned, rest rooms opened, etc. The Reform Team has pledged to oppose higher city taxes; most other council candidates have refused. They want to raise your taxes; we won't. No more phony “fees” either. Please vote only for the Reform Team for the five citywide seats.


Tony Carpenter
       Age: 51.
       Family: Two children (Justin, 30; and Nicole, 29).
       How long in Springs: 37 years.
       Career: Self-employed.
       Priorities/ how accomplish: Bring the city government back to the people. Get control of wasteful and unneeded spending. Our city government needs to do its job, ensuring the safety of citizens and taking care of our infrastructure and parks and recreation. The city also needs to make sure every dollar is spent wisely. If our city government takes care of its business, I believe the businesses will come. And our economy will be fine.
       Website: tonycarpenter.net.


Helen Collins
       Age: 55.
       Family: Single.
       How long in Springs: Seven years in July.
       Career: 20-year Navy veteran, government security investigator.
       Priorities/how accomplish: I'm a member of the Reform Team who are five fiscally-conservative business people. My Navy and civilian careers include an exemplary record in budget, personnel, operations, and management. I've also worked the last two years with seniors in my spare time. Over two thirds of our seniors live on their social security. Seniors are asking for better fiscal management.
       The Reform Team's top three city reforms are stopping the $500 million hospital giveaway; ending the Southern Delivery System bailout of a bankrupt California developer; and cancelling or reducing the USOC handout. Read our 40 examples of wasteful city spending at ReformCityHall.com. Please vote for the Reform Team! Our team will work together to fix City Hall!


Tony Exum
       Age: 58.
       Family: Single - two sons (Thomas Jr. and Jauquien) and four grandchildren.
       How long in Springs: Lifelong.
       Career: Retired battalion chief with Colorado Springs Fire Department.
       Priorities/ how accomplish: I am running for City Council to provide a trusted voice for the people of Colorado Springs, to help revise our story and to work to improve the quality of life for the people of this city. My priorities would be focused on:
       Public safety - to keep these departments well staffed at a level that continues to be representative of our growing community.
       Community centers - continue researching funding solutions to secure the future of our centers.
       Fiscal responsibility - by establishing a realistic and responsible budget to promote and strengthen our businesses, stabilize our communities and continue to provide individuals with appealing lifestyle opportunities.


Gretchen Kasameyer
       Age: 47.
       Family: Single.
       How long in Springs: 11 years.
       Career: Veterinarian
       Priority/ how accomplish: My top priority is to restore fiscal sanity to our city! In the past, the city has ignored maintenance costs of infrastructure, resulting in crisis management now. We have given handouts, bailouts, and given away property and assets at a fraction of their worth. This must be stopped. When elected, I will push City Council to set budget priorities of public safety, (police, fire) and public works (infrastructure). I will also scale back the size and scope of government and eliminate layers of government to keep spending and budgeting requirements simple and transparent.
       I am running as part of the Reform Team, because together we can return fiscal sanity to the city. No more bailouts, give aways, or tax hikes. Smaller, smarter, more efficient government. The government works for you, not the other way around!


Tim Leigh
       Age: 55.
       Family: Wife of 33 years (Lise); children Shannon and Hollly - both of whom graduated from Howbert, Holmes and Coronado.
       How long in Springs: Originally from 1975-1978; returned after graduating from University of North Dakota in 1981 and have lived on the Westside ever since.
       Career: In the real estate business since 1983, including remodeling seven homes on the Westside.
       Priorities/ how accomplish: My vision for Colorado Springs is to create a culture attractive to a “young, creative class.” Organizations that study these things say, if this demographic is growing, so is your economy. Further-more, we know that employers are drawn to a community that has them. When new employers come, they also help general employment, and aggregate prosperity increases.
       My plan envisions branding the city as the Sports & Wellness Capital of America. This branding plays to two critical age groups (demographics); 1) the young creative class and; 2) folks on the other end of the linear spectrum, (folks who have more silver than darkly colored hair), who are retired or retiring and typically need health and wellness.
       We need a community that's impervious to uncertainty of the global marketplace; a place where folks gravitate for sports & wellness and do so without regard to underlying economic conditions.


Dawn Lloyd
       Age: 52.
       Family: Married to Bill Brummet. I have six children ages, 21 to 29 years old (Alec, John, Sam, Monica, Joe and Marie Lahoff). They live on their own in various parts of the country.
       How long in Springs: 18 years.
       Career: Mother/homemaker/volunteer/food and beverage industry employee.
       Priorities/how accomplish: I will work to improve the quality of life and enhance representative government in this city. I will support programs such as capital improvements, parks and recreation and transportation. I will move to prioritize funding in these areas.
       I believe City Council should be a diverse group of leaders who represent both genders and various walks of life, work experiences, educations, ethnicities and ages. I believe my presence on council will add diversity and balance that our current council lacks. I will actively engage with community members from all walks of life, listening to concerns and communicating them to council. I've entered this race with an open mind and heart to serve the citizens of Colorado Springs, not to further a political career or promote an agenda.


Jan Martin
       Age: 60
       Family: Single, never married.
       How long in Springs: I'm a native - 60 years.
       Career: Owner of Martin Business Group for 18 years. It provides IT services to local businesses and school districts. I am also currently on Colorado Springs City Council.
       Priorities/how accomplish: My top priority will be to attract, create and retain the jobs we need. The city can't create jobs on its own, but it can work to streamline regulations and operations to help the local business community succeed and create jobs.
       The city also has a role to play in attracting new companies to town. Studies show that when a company relocates, 93 percent of the jobs they bring are filled from the local market. The city can partner with other organizations and use some of the tools available to municipalities to attract new businesses.
       Finally, the city can continue to support local organizations, such as the Colorado Springs Incubator and Small Business Development Center to work with entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a business. By putting people back to work, the city's economy will become more vibrant, which will stimulate sales tax dollars and allow for improved city services.


William Murray
       Age: 61.
       Family: Wife Susan; son, age 37; daughter, 41; one grandchild.
       How long in Colorado Springs: Stationed in Colorado Springs from 2000-2003 with the U.S. Space Command, retired here in 2008; total of six years.
       Career: Intelligence analyst for military affairs,
       Priorities/how accomplish:
       I would focus on economic development, tourism, utilities and care of public facilities. These are critical indicators of the future success of our city in order to maintain current businesses and attract new industry.
       A weakness of the past city government was to reach consensus. City Council must do its own research and make informed decisions for voter approval on such important issues as Memorial Health System, SDS and city branding.
       We face real challenges at the national, state, county and city level. My pledge to Colorado Springs residents is to bring my energy, common sense and vision to all issues that can be conceived, considered and adjudicated by the governing body of the City Council. I spent more than 30 years serving my country in uniform, and now I ask your help to continue my service to our great city as a member of your City Council.


Sean Paige
       Age: 51.
       Family: Married to Pamela and have two college-age stepchildren, John and Sara.
       How long in Springs: Nine years this summer.
       Career: Journalist and limited government advocate
       Priorities/how accomplish: The Paige platform - please visit paigeforcouncil.com - envisions a city with the best business climate in the country, thanks to a grow-our-own economic development strategy that helps build small- and medium-size ventures from the ground up by getting government out of the way. It's about restoring trust in City Hall through improved oversight, efficiency and accountability. It's about creating the nimble, streamlined, affordable, service-oriented city government of the 21st century. I bring the kind of creative, out-of-the-box thinking to City Council that's too often been lacking in recent years. I stand firmly on principle but can work constructively with others to get the right things done. A journalist's experience, instincts, curiosity and skepticism mean that I ask hard questions and don't settle for easy answers. And I always - always - put the interests of taxpayers and Utilities customers first!


Dan Reifschneider
       Age: 47.
       Family: Married, Son 29, Son 19, Daughter 17, Son 13.
       Lived in Springs: 1992-94, 1995-1998, 2000-2005, 2007 to present.
       Career: 20-year Air Force vet, retired in 2007. Currently assistant deputy director of integrated M&S product development for Missile Defense Agency, working at Schriever Air Force Base.
       Priorities/ how accomplish: My top priority is to ensure we have adequate spending on core government services - police, fire, and infrastructure - but also the safety of government buildings and property. I'd accomplish this by outsourcing other city services that are in the “yellow” pages. If the service is available in the local economy, we should put it up for bid and let the citizens of Colorado Springs compete. The competition will drive the price of the service down, and help ensure the city has the funds it needs for our core services.


Val Snider
       Age: 56.
       Family: Single.
       How long in Springs: 18 years.
       Career: Retired Air Force officer.
       Priorities/how accomplish: I see Colorado Springs as an economically vibrant, safe and connected community of informed residents working together toward common goals.
       My 13 years of dedicated community service have prepared me well to serve the citizens of Colorado Springs. My community service includes the 2005 Charter Review Commission, City Planning Commission, and the Parkside Homeowner Association Board of Directors.
       My priorities: 1. Increasing jobs and enhancing economic development through easing the development review process and reducing infill development costs. 2. Maintaining a safe and secure community through maintaining the current 47.65 percent of general fund budget to public safety. 3. Completing the SDS project through implementation of the current permitting schedule.
       Website: www.ValSnider.com


Brandy Williams
       Age: 32.
       Family: Single.
       How long in Springs: I was born in Colorado Springs, 32 years.
       Career: Licensed Professional Civil Engineer.
       Priorities/how accomplish: My top priority is jobs for Colorado Springs. How I propose to increase jobs is by streamlining the process for brick-and- mortar businesses in Colorado Springs. The more that we can get government out of the way and foster job creation, the faster we can put our citizens back to work.