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.

Chuck Fowler

       Age: 62.
       Family: Widower, with one daughter.
       How long in District 3: 4½ years.
       How long in the city: 32 years.
       Career: President of
       1. Transients. Mayor Suthers has led a task force of faith-based and non-profit organizations - a project called City Serve. I believe this is the proper long-term solution to homelessness.
       In the short term, the city can't shrink back from protecting private and public property, as well as the safety of its citizens. I support ordinances that protect property rights - it's not all about civil liberties - and strong and effective policing of homeless camps and compounds.
       2. Drake power plant. Everybody agrees Drake is an eyesore. It's good we have a decommission date to work with. The citizens need to know if the Neumann scrubbers are working and we are meeting EPA clean- air requirements. The electric load for downtown needs to be replaced prior to any discussions about closing Drake before 2035.
       3. Marijuana. I sense that the legalization of marijuana has increased homeless populations, especially in Council District 3. Is there a connection between marijuana and overwhelming panhandling? Has crime increased? Have traffic accidents gone up? Are we attracting criminal elements who thrive within the cracks of legal grows and distributors? If there are negative trends that can be linked to marijuana, our community and its leadership need to decide if this industry is causing more problems then we are capable of solving.
       In the meantime, the group City Serve, a faith-based and non-profit organization, has formed to help manage the situation and is another example of a private initiative that reduces stress on government services.
       4. Bancroft bandshell. I don't know what it would cost to repair the damage. I'm a fan of Territory Days and certainly want to see this year's event be a success - I'm sure it will be, regardless of the damage.
       I would favor making repairs if the city has the funds to do it - again based on total cost. How about a Go Fund Me campaign as a backup?
       5. Top three goals. 1) A more efficient city government - General Fund revenues are scarce, as the money available for city services comes primarily from sales taxes. When the economy is down, so to is the capability to provide top-tier police and fire protection. Public-private partnerships are an emerging strategy to fund public needs, including infrastructure.
       2) A dedicated funding source for stormwater. Poor political decisions of past councils have put the community in a very difficualt situation. If we are to benefit from the use of our $850M SDS water system, we must find a dedicated source of funding to pay for infrastructure, especially stormwater im-provements.
       3) A dedicated revenue source for park maintenance and recreation services. Our natural and beautiful setting is our greatest asset. Yet the city funding is not sufficient. I favor a community dialogue, followed by action to spin off the parks department into its own park district.
Richard Skorman

       Age: 64.
       Family: Married.
       How long in District 3: 38 years.
       How long in the city: 46 years.
       Career: Former City Councilmember (two terms) and vice mayor, regional director for Senator Ken Salazar; co-owner of Poor Richards/ Little Richards/Ricos.
       1. Transients. I wish there was a one-size-fits-all solution. I am not a fan of concentrating so many cannabis businesses on the Westside. We should try to control them with new-license renewals.
       We need to pressure the Salvation Army to loosen their arduous restrictions so more shelter beds can be made available.
       I would help lead a campaign to “not give to panhandlers” through local businesses and direct them to available resources instead.
       When we free more funding for police once we get stormwater funding out of the General Fund, I will push for more policing of camps and mobile mental health units through AspenPointe.
       2. Drake power plant. We need to push to retire it and take down its footprint much sooner than 2035, particularly with the potential expense of new lawsuits. To mitigate potential short-term increases to ratepayers, we need to sell our surplus SDS water to Water Districts outside our service territory. Drake is not only a huge eyesore for the new Olympic Hall of Fame and Cimarron interchange, it's an impediment to creating an arts district, more affordable housing and a water-park amenity at the confluence of Fountain and Monument Creeks. It also presents a negative image for millennials and entrepreneurs who would like to move here from the increasingly congested and expensive North Front Range.
       3. Marijuana. I think we should get revenue from recreational sales and devote to public safety and disperse the concentration away from the Westside.
       It's legal anyhow, in the Colorado Constitution, and won't go away easily now that voters made the Constitution more difficult to change and recreational marijuana users from across the city are flocking to Manitou and driving stoned through the Westside or hanging out. We need a way to not concentrate them.
       4. Bancroft bandshell. Yes. It's really important. I would try to find the money to fix it before the summer.
       5. Top three goals. 1) Create a fire, flood and landslide district for our wildland urban interface to keep residents and businesses safe in the future.
       2) Find dedicated funding and partners to maintain our parks and create a system of greenways to connect to Ring the Peak, the Cheyenne Mountain Heritage Trail, the Chamberlain Trail, the Fountain Creek Greenway and the other open space parks on the Westside. Without a huge investment, we could be one of the most off-road bicycle friendly cities in the nation. This will be a huge economic driver.
       3) Get stormwater funding out of the General Fund so that necessary resources can be put into police and fire personnel. Fourteen-minute Priority 1 response times for police are unacceptable, as is losing so many officers we have trained to other departments.

Westside Pioneer article