There’s a brilliant one-sentence description of Colorado Springs circulating among many in the business community. It goes like this:
“We are a city of leaders — without a leader.”
At the same time, another mantra has been making the rounds in regard to another hot-button local issue:
“As soon as Steve Bach says he’s not running again, I’ll be the first in line to support City for Champions.”
However you might want to relate those two messages, they have been linked by more than timing. More and more prominent local civic and business folks have shared the frustration of dealing with so much acrimony and disunity all around us.
It bothers them, and us, that Colorado Springs doesn’t have a revered leader who can command respect and public attention simply by taking a public stand on an important issue. Not only does that apply to our current elected leaders, but also those from the recent past.
We simply have no elder statesmen or women with that kind of presence, authority and credibility, though outgoing Councilor Jan Martin might rise to that level. And though many were hopeful in 2011 when Bach was elected as the city’s first strong mayor, those hopes have faded along with the working relationship between Bach and City Council.
So when the official news came Monday that Bach will not seek a second four-year term, you could feel the exhale of relief across the city.
Yes, it does make Bach a lame-duck mayor for his final four or five months (depending on whether there’s a runoff in the April election), and some if not many of Bach’s top administrators might leave before he does.
But from this view, knowing Bach’s days are numbered should be much more positive than negative. He won’t be accused of pushing ideas that might’ve been campaign issues. Instead, he could be trying to smooth over the many frayed relationships, trying to leave on good terms and perhaps add some accomplishments before he leaves.
In regard to City for Champions, perhaps Bach’s smartest strategy would be to stop portraying himself as the project’s biggest supporter. The mayor obviously wants C4C to become the most visible legacy of his tenure — and it still might. But he can’t force it, and at this point, from all we’re hearing across the community, Bach should step back and let others take more prominent roles.
After all, he won’t be in office anymore when the C4C projects are being built and then opening. He won’t be around to help push through the downtown stadium and events center that has become the toughest obstacle. Others will have to carry out the final effort to make City for Champions a complete reality.
It’s bewildering now to remember that, not even three years ago, many in Colorado Springs feared that Mayor Bach would amass too much power. He seemed fully capable and in position to assemble a group of political allies, taking control of City Council and thus all of city government.
Now we head into 2015, wishing for that kind of leader (singular or plural) to unite Colorado Springs and forge a new, positive, collaborative path to the future.
The door is open. Wide open.