Czelatdko upsets Merrifield in D-3; mayoral run-off to be May 17 for Skorman, Bach

       Political newcomer Lisa Czelatdko produced the biggest upset in the April 5 city election, edging out former State Representative Michael Merrifield in the two-person race for the District 3 City Council seat.
       Still not certain of triumph the next evening - because the City Clerk's Office hadn't yet made the results official and her margin was less than 300 votes - Czelatdko was guarded but clearly hopeful. “It's what I've been working hard for,” she said, referring to hours spent walking precincts, sending e-mails and attending various community and neighborhood functions. “I'm ready to get to work, to get council working together as a team. I want some good things to be happening.”

Lisa Czelatdko

Richard Skorman

Steve Bach

       District 3 covers the southwest part of Colorado Springs, including much of the Westside.
       Merrifield, a Democrat, had won four straight contests (from 2002 to 2008) to be state representative for District 18, which includes many of Council District 3's precincts.
       In other election results, none of the eight mayoral candidates was able to secure 50 percent of the votes, ensuring a run-off election May 17 between the top two vote-getters - Richard Skorman (about 36 percent) and Steve Bach (about 34 percent).
       The run-off election, like the April election, will be a mail ballot election. Ballots are tentatively scheduled to be mailed to active voters between April 22 and May 2. New voters have until April 18 to register to vote. Inactive voters can reactivate their status until polls close May 17.
       In the April 5 race for five at-large council seats, Westside resident Jan Martin garnered the most votes, with almost 11,000 more than anyone else. She was running for re-election. She had also gathered the most votes in her first race in 2007. However, the council she has been on has been criticized for seeming to go against the community will at times, and Martin even led the failed property-tax increase referendum in 2009.
       Asked about her election success, she just said she believed voters had seen her efforts at “getting out to the public and engaging people with city government.”
       She seemed more inclined to talk about the prospects for the next four years. “I think the voters did a good job in selecting the new council,” she said. “They're all very collaborative people, hard workers who want what's best for the city.”
       Two other incumbent councilmembers failed in election bids for different seats. Current at-large Councilmember Tom Gallagher finished fourth in the mayoral contest, and District 3 Councilmember Sean Paige came up short in the at-large race.
       The other four at-large electees are (in order of votes received) Merv Bennett, Val Snider, Brandy Williams and Tim Leigh.
       The latter two will only serve two-year terms, based on the wording in ballot Issue 1A, which passed this election calling for a charter change to give the city six council districts starting in 2013. When Williams' and Leigh's terms expire that year, those seats will become the two added district seats, according to 1A. The geography of the new six-district format has yet to be drawn up.
       Also passing was Issue 1B, a charter change which allows the new “strong mayor” to attend council meetings. This had not been clearly stated in the charter vote last fall creating the new mayor-as-city-manager style of government.
       The other council race was in District 2, which covers the northeast quarter of the city. The winner there was Angela Dougan.
       In District 3, It was not known at press time if Merrifield would ask for a recount. The “final, unofficial” results from the City Clerk's office showed Czelatdko with 10,140 votes to Merrifield's 9,802.
       If her margin holds up, she'll feel “ecstatic,” Czelatdko said April 6. “Last night when I was viewing the results, I was thinking whatever happens happens. I'm proud of the work I did, and I had so many wonderful supporters.”
       The elected councilmembers will be sworn in April 19. According to city officials, lame-duck Mayor Lionel Rivera will continue in that office - although not excercising the “strong mayor” powers - until June 7, when the new mayor will be sworn in.

Westside Pioneer article