Meet the City Council candidates

       Districts 1 and 3, among the six geographically represented areas on Colorado Springs City Council that are up for election April 4, are the ones taking in the Westside. District 1 covers the northwest part of the city, D-3 the southwest, with the division roughly along Fillmore Street and lower Pleasant Valley.
       The Westside Pioneer asked all the candidates to respond to these questions: “What is the best approach for the Drake power plant?” and “What are the top three goals you hope to accomplish if elected?”
       A specific question for D-1 candidates was: “Various development plans for the Mesa (mainly Mesa Road, Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street, bounded roughly by Uintah, 30th Street and the north end of Kissing Camels) have spurred Comprehensive Plan concerns from existing Mesa residents about aesthetics, sightlines, traffic and other impacts. As a councilmember, what will be your response to these concerns?”
       Three specific questions were asked of the D-3 candidates: One was: “Problems with transient people - including illegal camps, drug use, vandalism and thefts - continue to confront residents and business owners on the Westside. As a City Councilmember, how would you approach this issue?”
       The second D-3-specific question was: “Do you favor legalizing recreational marijuana and cannabis clubs in Colorado Springs - both of which have been made illegal by the current City Council?”
       The third asked what priority should be set for fixing the fire-damaged Bancroft Park bandshell (see story, Page 1), which is in D-3.
       The responses start on these facing pages.

Greg Basham

       Age: 53.
       Family: Married, two children.
       How long in District 1: Six years.
       How long in the city: 27 years.
       Career: Division manager of Champion Windows.
       1. Mesa development. Many of the Mesa residents have legitimate concerns regarding infill projects within this portion of the community. It is well known that balanced growth involves infill/redevelopment opportunities in conjunction with sound planning practices.
       I suspect some of the concerns are about the development of the Penrose-St Francis building. Zoning for this building has already been approved and we need to be focused on completing this project with as little disruption to residents in this area as possible. We need to include all concerned parties in the discussion of design to achieve the best possible outcome with the least amount of negative impact on the surrounding area.
       The obvious benefits from the growth in this area can not completely outweigh the quality of life concerns of the local residents. City Council must hold the developers accountable for the promises made on design and accommodations to this area.
       2. Drake power plant.
       The Drake power plant is going to eventually move, so the discussion should be on how much time, resources and money we are going to put into it before we move our power needs to a new facility. We need to have a master plan of how we are going to replace this power source. We spent approximately $200 million on improvements to Drake to shortly after deciding to close it. Before we go any further we should be partnering with other utilities to share in the expense of building new power sources and investigating alternative power sources. We spent a third of the cost to replace the power from Drake just to repair what was shortly after determined to be an outdated facility. Throughout our nation, plants of this age are being retired and we continued to spend hundreds of millions of dollars.
       3. Top three goals. 1) Infrastructure. We must first handle our stormwater issue before the EPA fines and the lawsuits accumulate to more money than what it would cost us to begin to fix the problem. We also need to continue the work to fix the roads and work to improve our police to population ratio.
       2) Grow and diversify our economy. Not just grow our economy, but diversify it. We can not continue to rely on the federal government to dictate our economic fortunes. We must also keep our relationship with the DoD strong, while focusing on bringing new business to our great city.
       3) Jobs. Support the plan that our Chamber has created, to provide the resources that a company will need to succeed. Create an environment that retains and captures our youth, so we have the most important resource - the people to fill those jobs with.
Don Knight

       Age: 62.
       Family: Married, three children.
       How long in District 1: 23 years.
       How long in the city: 23 years.
       Career: 26 years in USAF, retiring at the rank of colonel. Ten years in the defense industry at the director level. Four years as the District 1 City Council-member.
       1. Mesa development. A key goal for my second term is repairing our infrastructure without raising taxes. To do so, we need economic growth which means new development. Thus I support the new Penrose hospital and the completion of Centennial to Fontanero.
       However, the first rule I learned in 10 years of business development is to protect your base. For City Council, our base is the people, businesses and neighborhoods who already invested in Colorado Springs. To me, their voice is a critical input before council votes on any new development.
       Thus I voted on council against the city's new infill plan, which sees public process as a financial burden to developers, and against an ordinance that would keep neighborhoods from appealing any development more than 500 feet away. Success is when the neighbors and developers can reach a compromise like the Mesa community did with the assisted living complex at Fillmore and Centennial.
       2. Drake power plant.
       Council voted to close Drake by 2035. While I voted against it, I respect the decision. My sole objection was that council failed to look at how the year 2035 sequenced in with the construction of Southern Delivery System Phase II so as not to have multiple - or any - years of double-digit rate increases to our customers.
       As we replace Drake, we must keep our electric production portfolio to 40 percent coal, 40 percent gas and 20 percent renewable to avoid higher rates when natural gas prices again rise above the cost of coal. This means adding new coal production capability at Clear Springs Ranch south of town. Fortunately, the technology is already here to properly filter out CO2 and keep our environment safe.
       As to the land where Drake sits, the costs are not in yet on keeping the site; selling as is; or cleaning up previous contamination, then selling.
       3. Top three goals. 1) Attract/retain businesses. While on council, we approved a Commercial Aeronautical Zone around the airport which has already brought in over 2,000 high-paying jobs. I am now working to extend the CAZ to the entire city to encourage new aircraft businesses to locate within District 1 with the same tax benefits.
       2) Improve infrastructure without raising taxes. Our major infrastructure needs are roads and stormwater. We addressed our roads through Issue 2C which I supported. With the potential of $12 million in TABOR excess from 2016 and 2017, I believe we can, and should, fund our stormwater needs within our budget.
       3) Keep Utilities citizen- owned. I support raising the voter requirement to sell utilities from a simple majority to a supermajority. On Governance though, I believe we need a separate Board whose members have the business experience to oversee a $1B a-year company. But only if it is elected; not appointed.

Westside Pioneer article