‘Strong mayor’ election: Ballots due May 17

       Colorado Springs' first “strong mayor” will be decided May 17 when the final ballots are cast in the run-off election between Steve Bach and Richard Skorman.
       The new mayor will be sworn in June 7. He will serve a four-year term.
       Already in place, at least for the next two years, is a nine-member City Council, which last month elected Scott Hente to be its president.
       A run-off was needed because none of the eight original mayoral candidates gained a majority in the city election April 5 (when the council was voted in). That created the current race between Bach and Skorman, the two mayor hopefuls who had garnered the most votes.
       Both candidates have made job creation a key part of their campaigns. Bach, a long-time area real-estate broker who has not previously held a political office, has said he will attain job results in large part by having government stay out of the way of the private sector. He has also pledged not to support any tax increases.
       Skorman, a small-business owner and former council member who refused the no-tax pledge, has offered a plan called “Opportunity Springs,” which would include job-creation by building on the city's outdoor and health-and-fitness amenities.
       Procrastinating voters need to be aware that ballots must be turned in by May 17 at 7 p.m. Even if ballots are postmarked before then, they won't be counted if the city receives them later than the 17th.
       A Westside location for people who would like to drop off their ballots (including May 17) is the Gold Hill Police Substation, 955 W. Moreno Ave., between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The City Clerk's Office, 30 S. Nevada Ave., Suite 101, will accept ballots May 17 until the polls close at 7 p.m.
       The “strong mayor” nickname stemmed from the charter change approved by city voters last November. It changed the form of government from council-manager to mayor-council, with the city manager position being eliminated and the mayor taking over most of the duties of that job.
       At $96,000 a year, the new mayor will also be paid considerably more than outgoing Mayor Lionel Rivera ($6,250). The council members' salaries have not changed; they are still making $6,250 each.
       The charter states that the mayor as well as council members will serve four-year terms; however, a charter amendment approved by voters in April stipulates that the two at-large members with the least votes (Brandy Williams and Tim Leigh) will serve only two years each. This is part of a move to add two more district-representing seats on council (to the four existing now), starting in April 2013. This will be accomplished by eliminating two of the five at-large positions.
       The result will be new district boundaries - also changing those just won in District 3 by Lisa Czelatdko and District 2 by Angela Dougan - and a six district seats in all open at that time.

Westside Pioneer article