D-1 Council race enters final week
Neither candidate is predicting victory in the District 1 City Council race that will be decided at the polls Tuesday, April 5.
Incumbent Scott Hente described himself as “cautiously optimistic. I think/hope the voters realize that this is a council that works well together and has the best interests of Colorado Springs at heart.”
According to challenger Al Brody, “This election is a coin toss. With an expected 15 percent voter turnout, anything could happen. I would rather lose knowing that most of the voters voted and chose my opponent than win with 7.5 percent plus 1 of the voters and always know that most of the voters didn't vote for me. It is like the last mayoral race where Lionel Rivera became mayor with 34% of the vote. He has to live with the fact that two thirds of the voters did not select him for mayor.”
Asked by the Westside Pioneer for their positions on the city ballot issues, the two agreed on all but one - 2E: pay for City Council members.
As a council member, Hente voted against even putting the pay raise on the ballot. “It's personal,” he said. “If I wasn't on council, I'd think it was a great idea. But it bothers me when a person gets elected and puts his hand out.” In his home-building business, he pointed out that he has partners who “shoulder the burden” so that he can do city work at times. But if his city pay were higher, he wondered how fair it would be for them to keep doing extra work on his account.
Brody said he will vote for the measure, which, if approved, would increase the current City Council stipend from the current $6,200 to $18,000 for the mayor and $12,000 for each of the other council members.
“The cost to be a good representative of your constituents far exceeds the old or new amount,” he said. “$6,200, $12,000, or $18,000 are all quantities too small to attract citizens that do not have an alternate income without working (rich or retired), to become City Council members. If we want unbiased, professional politicians, we will need to have a salary closer to what El Paso County commissioners receive [$63,000-plus a year].”
Here are the candidates' responses to the other ballot questions.
Issue 2A (allowing the city to spend revenue exceeding the TABOR limit to repair/refill Prospect Lake)…
Brody: “Yes. I believe Prospect Lake is a city jewel and should be maintained. Using already collected tax money to fund most of the cost is virtually painless to residents.”
Hente: “Yes. We're saying give up your $10-11 TABOR refund, and we'll fix the lake.”
Issue 2B (changed wording, recommended by the City Charter Review Committee, regarding City Council's powers, duties and accountability)…
Hente: “Yes. This pretty much cleans up what we do now.”
Brody: “Yes. This ballot issue is a step towards more transparent city government.”
Issue 2C (a charter change taking into financial account any City Council work related to city-owned Memorial Hospital)…
Brody: “Yes. This is a reasonable expectation for a city enterprise (Memorial Hospital) and worth changing the charter to make it happen.”
Hente: “It's saying that if Memorial Hospital wants some kind of governance, we should (get something in return). It's really just a drop in the bucket.”
Issue 2D (charter change to eliminate the 30-word limit on ballot titles for tax increase proposals)…
Hente: “Yes. This will allow us to explain things on ballots.”
Brody: “Yes. I supported the TOPS tax extension which is why this 30 word limit is an issue. Unfortunately it takes more than 30 words to prevent the… lawyer types in our community from dragging us down with lawsuits.”
Issue 200 (citizen charter-change inititative to “provide that the City of Colorado Springs is prohibited from planning, building, funding or financing a convention center, with or without a hotel or other ancillary structures, without prior voter approval and mandating public disclosure of various cost estimates at least 60 days prior to voters' consideration of the City's convention center proposal.”)…
Brody: “No. I oppose adding any complicated and wordy restrictions to the city charter. I oppose this proposed charter amendment which would restrict city council from doing what they should do (plan) as a responsible, elected, representative entity.”
Hente: “No. This is bad government. It ties the hands of future councils. As a general statement, I think that putting the current issue of the day into charters or constitutions smacks of not trusting representative government.”
Westside Pioneer article