I am proud to be endorsed by Sheriff Joe Roybal, Colorado Springs Police Protective Association and Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Local 5.
I’m dedicated to providing Colorado Springs Police and Firefighters with the personnel, training, tools and resources necessary to keep our neighborhoods, businesses and schools safe. As a councilmember, we obtained voter approval to fund fire mitigation and adopted our city’s first fire evacuation ordinance. I will continue my work with state and local agencies to enhance wildfire preparedness and mitigation.
Since joining the city council, we’ve added positions for 62 new police officers, 66 firefighters and funded 3 new fire stations, moved to a continuous police academy and established a public safety fee to make sure new development pays its fair share. As mayor, I will ensure our public safety needs are prioritized.
Like most major cities, Colorado Springs has struggled to fill our available police positions, but we are making progress. We have moved to a continuous year-round police academy and are reducing the waiting time before a new class starts. As mayor, I will make sure that we’re competitive in the recruitment process, but we will always ensure our high standards are met. I will always ensure that our police, firefighters and other first responders know how much we appreciate them and respect their service.
Roads and Infrastructure
Time spent in traffic gridlock is time lost with friends and family. It also has an adverse impact on our economy. That’s why I’ve championed road and infrastructure projects, including the widening of I-25 and the creation of the Pikes Peak RTA.
When I was elected to the County Commission in 2002, I promised to address critical infrastructure projects. We began a series of meetings that ultimately created the Pikes Peak RTA through a vote of the people. I then worked to ensure we delivered on the promises made. And we did. That’s why the PPRTA has twice been renewed by our citizens.
As a result of these efforts, we’ve built dozens of critical projects in every part of our community, from Milton Proby Parkway and South Academy to Cimarron Bridge and Powers improvements to the creation of the Woodmen/Academy and Union/Austin Bluffs interchanges, the Pikes Peak RTA has been critical to our community’s economic growth.
TOPS Measure / Trails Open Space and Parks
During my four years on City Council, we’ve increased general fund support for parks and forestry by more than 38% and added over two thousand acres of parks and open space. And we added more than a thousand acres for El Paso County when I served as a County Commissioner. I helped refer the TOPS extension to the voters and I support its passage.
Our priority must be to ensure water for our city residents. Seventy percent of our water comes from the Colorado River, and we must be prepared for potential cutbacks.
As Chair of Colorado Springs Utilities, I helped lead the fight to replace the vague “foreseeable future” standard with a new ordinance guaranteeing a buffer before allowing new annexations to occur. We provided several months of public process and changes were made to the initially proposed ordinance to address citizen concerns. Ultimately, we adopted a 128% buffer requirement before new annexations can occur. This still permits annexations but ensures there are necessary limits to protect our precious water resources.
At the same time, I’ve also worked to increase our water supplies. We imposed a water resource fee on developers that’s set aside in a dedicated fund to acquire new water rights which will permit our community to continue to grow.
We’ve entered into new agreements with our neighbors in the Arkansas Valley where we fund farmers’ irrigation improvements and then buy the water saved, and we’ve already acquired about 3,000-acre feet with an agreement with Bent County in place to acquire 12,000 more acre-feet, a total of 15,000 acre feet, which provides enough water for 100,000 residents. This also provides another source for water, reducing our reliance on the Colorado River.
We’ve also emphasized water conservation, and today we use the same amount of water we did 20 years ago, despite significant growth. Together, these actions show we are growing responsibly and sustainably.
Smart growth in Colorado Springs means that growth pays its own way, and we ensure that new development is accompanied by the necessary infrastructure to sustain it. That infrastructure includes roads, parks, water, and police/fire stations. I have successfully championed road and water infrastructure projects, including the widening of I-25 and the Pikes Peak RTA (with the support of the PPAR) and the establishment of new water development and public safety fees on developers.
As mayor, I will continue to fight to ensure we have adequate transportation systems, utilities, fire and police stations, and that we provide the other services needed for a growing city.
I began my civic engagement here when Mayor Bob Isaac asked me to serve on the Board for the Colorado Springs Housing Authority. As Chair of that board, we revitalized Lowell School and expanded housing options in our community, including the creation of Creekside at Norwood in partnership with Peterson AFB to provide off-base housing options for enlisted personnel.
As Chairman of the Colorado Springs Utilities Board, I worked to establish a fund to cover utility connection fees for affordable and attainable housing to help encourage construction by non-profits and other community partners.
On City Council, I worked with others to establish a program to rebate sales tax for affordable and attainable housing. As mayor, I will continue to work with community partners to incentivize a mix of both market-rate and affordable units.
Home ownership is a key to personal wealth creation. As mayor, I will work with the legislature to improve Colorado laws so that we support the building of entry level home ownership like condominiums.
Colorado Springs is one of the few large cities in America where the number of unhoused have been reduced. We must compassionately address the root causes of homelessness by working with non-profit partners like Springs Rescue Mission, Catholic Charities, and the Salvation Army to provide assistance, education and treatment options for those experiencing drug addiction and/or mental illness. Likewise, I support public-private partnerships that provide job training and opportunities for our residents.
For our community’s health and safety, we must enforce city ordinances I’ve supported that prohibit blocking public rights-of-way and building entrances and camping on, and potentially contaminating, our public spaces and waterways. We worked to ensure our ability to enforce these rules by having sufficient shelter beds available. We also need to expand our Homeless Outreach Team and Alternate Response Teams to meet the needs of our community.
I am committed to preserving a low tax burden for our residents while delivering economic growth to our city through business development and recruitment, as well as public/private partnerships and investments. I’m honored to be a past recipient of the Chamber’s Regional Leader of the Year Award and now serve on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Corporation.
Just like our families need to make important budget decisions to operate within their means, so does our city government. As mayor, we will continue to operate with a balanced budget and a healthy reserve that will allow us to withstand any future crisis.
Wildfire Evacuation and Mitigation
I was evacuated during the Waldo Canyon fire, so I know the importance of evacuation planning. As a member of City Council, I supported the unanimous vote that established our city’s first fire evacuation ordinance. I am proud to support the COS Ready program (https://coloradosprings.gov/ready) that enables our residents to get real-time alerts relating to evacuations in our 655 city zones.
I also helped create the voter-approved $20 million fire mitigation fund. We’ve seen firsthand in our community the vital role mitigation can serve.
As mayor, I will work with our city government to educate our residents about the COS Ready program and the importance of making an evacuation plan. I will also work with our emergency management and public works personnel to address potential bottlenecks. As always, I will continue to solicit feedback from our communities about how we can improve the program further.
Role of Government
I believe the essential roles of city government are to: ensure public safety and order; protect individual freedom and human rights; and provide critical public services.
I am committed to leading a city government that provides assistance to our residents and businesses, not one that overburdens them with needless regulations and bureaucratic red tape. We should be promoting innovation and excellence, not stifling it.
I support the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights passed by Colorado voters. Taxpayers, not government, should decide when it is appropriate for taxes to be increased. When existing revenue is not enough to fund essential services, it is both proper and necessary to ask the taxpayers for permission for additional funding.
I am a strong supporter of community collaboration and I’ve worked hard to ensure we deliver on the promises made. I’ve attended, participated in and organized numerous opportunities for citizen input.
We worked with community groups to renew the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (with 79.4% of the vote) and to pass measures funding public safety, parks, road maintenance and fire mitigation. We also worked closely with neighborhood groups in adopting our new zoning code and rules for ADUs and short-term rentals.
As a member of City Council, I helped create the Law Enforcement Transparency Advisory Commission (LETAC) to bring diverse views together on police use of force and related issues. We successfully implemented LETAC’s recommendation for funding Alternate Response Teams.
As mayor, I will continue to lead a city government that works with our residents, stakeholders, agencies, organizations and businesses to accomplish a shared vision and goals.