More than 400 community and business leaders attended last night’s mayoral forum to hear candidates’ views about topics that ranged from Colorado Springs’ image to economic development.
The event, organized by the Middle Market Entrepreneurs, had candidates answering questions such as:
“You are sitting on an airplane next to the CEO of an internationally recognized company. What do tell her about Colorado Springs?”
Another question put candidates on the spot about funding for economic development:
“Do you agree with the Economic Development Corp.’s mission enough to support it with public funding?”
And still another question asked what candidates believe to be the city’s major challenges concerning diversity and tolerance.
While candidate answers ranged from confident to “can-do,” others brought rogue ideas about fiscal responsibility and networking with the rest of the state.
One candidate even suggested selling Colorado Springs Utilities to gain revenue and rid the city of its supposed management woes.
Questions were dealt to candidates in groups of three, and each had 45 seconds to respond.
“The government needs to get out of the way of the private sector to create a better business climate,” said Brian Bahr.
Kenneth Duncan was asked about tolerance in Colorado Springs and took the opportunity to address the idea of offering insurance to same-sex partners of city employees.
“There are barriers to diversity, and this concerns Christians,” he said. “How can we possibly treat anybody less favorably just because of their diverse lifestyle? There is not a Christian in this room who hasn’t sinned, and we’re called to love everybody. That’s why I’m for plus-one benefits for city employees.”
One of the recurring themes of the night was about improving the relationship between the mayor and the city council.
“It’s a new government. There are going to be five to seven new council members,” said Richard Skorman. “That relationship will be the foundation. I like what Hickenlooper has done with open, free-form meetings. We’re a team, and they will have the same access to information and people as I do.”
Phil McDonald proposed moving City Council meetings to different locations around the Springs to engage residents from all parts of town.
A number of candidates voiced support for cutting taxes that burden businesses.
Duncan, Buddy Gilmore and Tom Gallagher all proposed eliminating the city’s business personal property tax, although none explained how they would fill the revenue hole that would create.
(Read more about the business personal property tax in Friday’s Business journal.)
Watch the video below to hear candidates answer questions about:
- How the Council/Strong Mayor form of government should work
- Whether public money should be used to support the EDC
- What the city’s challenges are in the areas of tolerance and diversity