In case you hadn’t noticed, Colorado Springs finds itself in a state of governmental flux near the end of 2014.
We’re on the brink of a long, potentially divisive campaign for mayor in the upcoming April municipal election, muddled more by Councilor Joel Miller’s announcement Monday that he would resign to enter the race. We’ll be electing three at-large representatives (plus Miller’s successor) to the City Council, at a time of growing concern about those elected leaders’ chemistry and ulterior motives, with potential candidates trying to decide whether they will run.
As if all that weren’t enough, we’re seeing more issues being added to the plate for that April election — in the form of possible ballot issues for the city’s voters.
These aren’t just mundane, housekeeping details, but questions that could have a lasting impact on Colorado Springs. Here’s a quick look:
• Mayor Steve Bach’s followup to the stormwater (Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority) question that failed in the recent election, asking for $157 million in sales and use tax revenue bonds to finance needed improvements, including some stormwater-related infrastructure.
• Another City Charter amendment, this one proposed by Council President Keith King and other allies, giving Council more authority over its staff (such as having its own attorney, but also hiring and firing) and in other areas.
• An amendment to the City Charter, pushed by Miller, creating more limits for any possible stadium/events center, including the one that’s part of the City for Champions package.
• This wouldn’t come from City Council, but after its unwillingness to allow retail marijuana sales inside Colorado Springs, it’s looking more and more likely that a citizen petition drive will try to put that on the April ballot.
We feared this situation might develop, as circumstances have combined to make ballot issues an easy option. But we don’t agree, especially when so many ballot questions could create confusion, lead to many voters saying no to everything and potentially impact the mayoral race.
Bach’s proposal might have made more sense the past few years, but not going into a city election where he also might (or might not) run for re-election. Voters just shot down stormwater, a proposal that made much sense. So why push it?
Council’s concerns — especially what it should control vs. what the mayor should control — would be better addressed by a citizen-led Charter review task force. So why push it?
Opponents of City for Champions, especially the downtown stadium/events center, want to wield the heavy-handed tactic of a Charter amendment to create a de facto referendum on the project, though C4C organizers haven’t finalized its specifics. So why push it?
The matter of whether to allow retail marijuana sales might be the unavoidable exception. If the petition drive succeeds, it could become a mayoral campaign issue. But it’s not asking for money (actually increasing city revenue) and, regardless, if enough voters sign petitions, that legitimizes the question.
We don’t need a cluttered, exasperating ballot for the April city election. The decision of who will be Colorado Springs’ mayor from 2015 to 2019 means too much.