fbpx
Have questions? Call us! 719-471-0910

Candidates e-forum

The Catamount Institute in partnership with Trails and Open Space Coalition, Livewell Colorado SpringsColorado College Office of Sustainability and Pikes Peak Sierra Club provided Mayoral and City Council Candidates a list of questions on topics important to the Conservation and Healthy Living Community. Candidates were asked to respond in 50 words or less. Not all candidates chose to participate, but all were contacted and provided with the questions.

As a 501©3 Non-profit, Catamount Institute is not allowed to endorse candidates. These candidates’ answers are your opportunity to become better educated and decide if your values and their priorities share common ground.

Thank you for taking the time to read the answers.

This blog is separated in 3 sections use the links below to navigate to the races that interest you.

Mayoral Candidates
City Council At Large
City Council District 2

 

Mayoral Candidates

What is the biggest environmental concern facing Colorado Springs and why?

Amy Lathen: Long-term sustainability of our groundwater resources is fundamental to our City and entire region. Although we have some of the most stringent groundwater rules in the state, we must be ever vigilant in protecting this vital resource.
Mary Lou Makepeace: Our over-reliance on automobiles presents a great threat to our quality of life. When our air quality becomes such that we can’t see Pikes Peak anymore, we won’t be able to forgive ourselves for not addressing the issue sooner.
 Joel Miller: The biggest environmental concern is the long-sustained drought conditions and wildfires in the wild land urban interface. This threat has been deadly for our citizens and has destroyed over 1000 homes in the city and the county.
John Suthers: Stormwater drainage is a major environmental concern for Colorado Springs.  The issue must be addressed to preserve private infrastructure, to maintain necessary water quality and to avoid potential environmental litigation.

Category Questions

Quality of Life/Health

Livability issues like transportation, parks and open space and access to healthy food impact quality of life for individuals and community well-being – economically, environmentally and socially. What are your one or two top investment priorities for making Colorado Springs a more livable city?

Amy Lathen: Investment priorities must begin with core infrastructure, specifically transportation, which supports all other aspects of our community and the ability for citizens to live safely and productively. Our parks also impact our quality of life as well as public safety and our competitiveness.  They must be prioritized.
Mary Lou Makepeace: Our transit system is inadequate. I will work toward a multimodal transit system that includes buses bikes, pedestrian corridors, etc. Council Member Jill Gaebler has begun great work with citizens to address our city’s food deserts. As Mayor I look forward to seeing how I can join them in that work.
Joel Miller: I am firmly committed to the core roles of government: public safety, public works, parks and creating an environment in which the free market can flourish. I believe all contribute to the quality of life. All investment priorities should relate to those core roles.
John Suthers:  More people living and working downtown and the development of amenities for them would make Colorado Springs a more livable urban environment.  Improving public infrastructure and public transportation will also contribute greatly to our city’s livability.

How do we increase revenue to be able to cover Capital Improvement Projects and immediate needs so that there is more municipal funding available for forward-thinking investments – things like innovative multi-modal transportation infrastructure or  public space improvements that incorporate treatments to capture stormwater.

Amy Lathen: Increasing revenue requires seeking public support.  To achieve revenue increases in this community, we must be extraordinarily open and transparent: showing the use of existing revenue vs. the need for more.  This very intentional process must be done with specifics and accountability in order to win the public’s support.
Mary Lou Makepeace: We need to engage with citizens in an honest conversation about the financial health of our community. Multimodal transit systems are not built on budgets like ours currently in Colorado Springs. We must start conversations about what we want in our future and then find the ways to fund it.
Joel Miller:
We must create an environment where the free market can flourish—remove barriers to business and level the playing field for all businesses as a first step. Existing and new revenue must be focused on prioritized government roles, including capital needs that address health and safety issues first.
John Suthers: As Mayor, I will spend the first several months, with City Council, conducting a broad public outreach to determine the best mechanism to deal with the city’s large critical public infrastructure backlog, including stormwater, with a view toward a possible ballot initiative as soon as November 2015.

Resiliency Planning

Stormwater funding in the Pikes Peak region has lagged behind other communities along the Front Range. A citizen initiated effort to create a fee to fund the backlog of stormwater projects was defeated in the November election. Given our responsibilities to our downstream neighbors, how should stormwater issues be addressed and funded?

Amy Lathen: As one of the founders of the recent stormwater initiative, I remain a staunch supporter of regional, dedicated stormwater management.  Given the significant data collected, I support going back to the people to ask what was right, what was wrong, and how we can move forward with a revised initiative.
Mary Lou Makepeace:   Council recently passed a resolution to consider using the $8 million SCIP bond payment and the $7 million City and CSU stormwater budgets to deal with the backlog of projects, and then going forward, moving to a “pay as you go” approach. There is merit in that approach.
Joel Miller: There is adequate revenue to designate at least $20 million per year without an additional tax or fee. Including current general fund spending on stormwater, Utilities work and our Capital Improvement Budget, we have over $16 million/year. SCIP bond debt will be paid off in 2017 freeing up another $8M/year.
John Suthers: The $19 million per year committed by City Council by resolution to stormwater funding is a good start, but it is also has to be part of the public discussion referred to in the answer to question 3.

In recent years, Colorado Springs has experienced two devastating wildfires, and many homes within the Wildland Urban interface remain at risk. How should Colorado Springs address this problem?

Amy Lathen: We must balance private-property rights with the need for safety for neighborhoods and using our development codes to make sure we address mitigation efforts.  I support community mitigation meetings: teaching entire communities the best way to prepare and prevent such disasters in the future.
Mary Lou Makepeace: While many homes remain at risk, neighborhood associations are proving to be a tremendous resource on achieving mitigation. Insurance companies are requiring and/or incentivising mitigation as well. The best thing we can do is educate homeowners on the need to mitigate and ensure their connection to resources to do so.
Joel Miller:
I believe that community education for fire mitigation on private property is essential and the City must do likewise on its property. Regional intergovernmental meetings must occur regularly to address interoperability of communications equipment, consider early detection technologies and make sure our mutual aid agreements are ready to go.

John Suthers: CSFD and CSPD should continue working with “at risk” neighborhoods to mitigate wildfire risk and conduct evacuation exercises.    We also need to ensure we are well trained and well equipped to deal with future wildfires.

Stable Parks Funding

General Fund support for parks, trails and open space continues to lag behind 2008 levels, even though the overall general fund is now significantly higher. Would you support an increase in the parks budget and how should we begin to address the 180 million dollars in parks capital needs?

Amy Lathen: I have supported budget increases for county parks when possible because I believe in prioritizing our parks.  Many aspects of the budget are still lagging behind, and allocation of resources requires difficult decisions.  Discussion about more revenue to address such a budget shortfall must begin with the public.
Mary Lou Makepeace: As Mayor I would work with City Council to get the fees for watering reduced or eliminated as many other cities in our region do. I would work closely with the Parks Department to ensure they have what they need to continue to care for our city’s greatest assets.
Joel Miller:
Parks fall within the role of government. Through two budget cycles on City Council. I have supported additional general fund dollars for our parks. Citizens expect their city government to take care of our parks and it’s a big reason why people like calling Colorado Springs home.
John Suthers: Some of the parks capital needs can be part of a public infrastructure proposal.  A portion of increased revenues as our economy improves and grows should also go to parks.

Colorado Springs is home to America’s Mountain and one of the world’s greatest parks, Garden of the Gods. Our new parks master plan plans for anticipated population growth and doubles our urban trail system while adding 20,000 acres of open space.  Do you believe trails and open spaces are economic drivers for our community and what would you do to support the goals of the new master plan?

Amy Lathen: Yes, as I have articulated, I believe strongly in well-rounded, balanced community infrastructure, which absolutely includes a vibrant parks and trails system.  I will work with the new master plan as we bring together MANY regional initiatives in order to truly bring mutual, regional goals to fruition.
Mary Lou Makepeace: According to City Parks Alliance, “High-quality parks also spur economic development by attracting homebuyers and boosting residential property values by as much as 15 percent.” I would look to our staff as experts in this field and ensure they know these goals are a top priority for my administration.
Joel Miller: I supported the master plan as a member of City Council. That said, there are areas that need tweaking. First, I believe the plan is lopsided in investment in areas near downtown when much of our population lives elsewhere. Parks are a huge reason that people want to live here.
John Suthers: Trails and open spaces are an economic driver for our community and a key amenity for young professionals.  The master plan is an excellent product of broad based community effort and I will seek to implement it as city finances and grant funding permit.

Improving Bicycle Infrastructure

Many communities along the Front Range are realizing notable economic, health, and environmental benefits through the retrofit of their transportation networks to better accommodate walking and biking for everyday trips. For us to realize these benefits what do you think Colorado Springs should do to become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly and what role would you play in that?
Amy Lathen: This is a matter of master planning and a philosophy that includes this type of connectivity in our engineering and traffic design systems.  I view this as both a quality of life and economic development tool and will incorporate it into specific planning and building processes.
Mary Lou Makepeace: As Mayor I would require collaboration between City departments (including CSU) so we can take a “while we’re at it” approach. While we’re paving and striping we should be considering road dieting, where possible, to allow for safer bike lanes. I will also work toward a comprehensive bike system.
Joel Miller: I believe that PPRTA funds have been and could continue to be used to put in bicycle lanes throughout the City. The non-motorized transit plan conducted by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments should be a good start as to where to prioritize those dedicated PPRTA funds.
John Suthers: The best ideas to promote walking/biking alternatives typically come from engaged citizens, not from government.  The Mayor’s job is to facilitate and promote them.  I’m a big fan of the Legacy Loop proposal and other master plan ideas as a means of making our city more pedestrian/bicycle friendly.

New economic data indicates bicycling related expenditures has a 27 million dollar impact on our region. What do you see as the place of cycling in our city’s future both as a form of everyday transportation and a form of recreation? Specifically, are there any key programs, policies, or projects that you see as pivotal for advancing bicycling and walking in our community so that we can grow this impact in the coming years?

Amy Lathen: Again, this is a matter of philosophy—supporting planning and systems engineering with an accessibility and multi-modal transportation mindset.  Bike lanes, bike accessibility, awareness and opportunities to realize joy and potential of bicycle transportation (plus walking) through large-scale events, on-street bike rental facilities and more, must be supported and highlighted.
Mary Lou Makepeace: One of the most exciting events to come to Colorado Springs has been the Pro Cycling Challenge. I’ll support the work that allows us realize the largest economic impact possible from cycling, supporting the Bankers Lunch Loop Urban Single Track project, and maybe a Valmont Park Mountain Bike Park.
Joel Miller: I believe our environment has been a huge factor in the growth of the bicycle industry. The same things that will make us attractive to all businesses, would make us attractive to growth in this industry. I have addressed how I will work with businesses at JoelMillerforMayor.com.
John Suthers: We need to continue to attract events, such as the USA Pro Challenge, as a means of promoting bicycling as a form of transportation and recreation.  I will work with experts and advocates in identifying programs, policies and projects that promote cycling.

Many of our peer communities along the Front Range have achieved notable distinction through the League of American Cyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Program. Specifically, Denver is currently silver and is pursuing gold this year. Fort Collins is platinum and going for diamond in 2016. Boulder is currently platinum.  Colorado Springs is silver and was informed last year that we risk losing that designation and becoming a bronze-level community.  What would you do as Mayor / council member to help the community maintain its silver designation?

Amy Lathen: Incorporating long-term planning for bike lanes and trail connectivity is critical.  Bike facilities, bike transit hubs, bike lanes, route signage, intersection improvements, racks, stations, etc., all should be considered in our planning and ultimately made available to citizens to encourage and inspire the use of alternate forms of transportation.
Mary Lou Makepeace: The No. 1 thing I can do as mayor is declare it a priority. Once it is a priority, then all of our infrastructure discussions must include the cycling component. We will take a holistic look at our infrastructure to ensure we don’t pave our way to a “bronze” status.
Joel Miller: I would have to review the criteria and the specific points of concern raised in the report and then determine where addressing those issues fits into the greater picture of infrastructure in the City. We should also be leveraging and applying for GOCO and other grants to that end.
John Suthers: I will support the efforts of cycling experts and enthusiasts as to how best to maintain and improve Colorado Springs as a pro-cycling city. 

Relationship with Universities and Improving our Image

Colorado Springs has excellent resources with its higher education institutions.  The institutions have ad-hoc relationships with the city, the local government, and various entities such as Colorado Springs Utilities currently, but the potential of these institutions as formal, forward-looking resources towards both engagement and solutions is highly underutilized.   In what ways do you think the city can and should partner with and leverage the collective knowledge and resources that these institutions provide?

Amy Lathen: We speak openly and frequently with universities and entire school districts about ways to galvanize their infrastructure resources and their intellectual assets.  This has been ramped up in recent months toward a much more interactive and intentional relationship with local government—and these efforts must be continued and increased.
Mary Lou Makepeace: We will understand their growth and goals to ensure we align our transit, bike and pedestrian plans. Colorado College has a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020 – is the City working with them so they will be successful? Further, I’ll include students, faculty, and economists in city conversations.
Joel Miller:
I definitely believe we could be leveraging our institutions of higher learning in terms of work force development. Often this is a critical piece in attracting larger employers, particularly manufacturing. Furthermore, I believe we should be engaging with the alumni organizations of these institutions to promote our City.
John Suthers: There are significant synergies that can be gained from the collaboration.  Higher education can be the catalyst for new job creation and government can often facilitate new resources for higher ed.  Our challenge – get higher ed and local government to identify similar goals and embark upon execution strategies.

Colorado Springs frequently has a less than desirable reputation around sustainability issues – in circles outside the city and across the country.  Often this reputation is based on sub–sets of the population, active political fringes, or other misconceptions of our city.  However, this reputation does exist and is widespread nonetheless. In what ways can we begin to repair this reputation and begin to properly represent the finer truths of our city and its applicability to the 21st century?

Amy Lathen: We must change perceptions of our community within Colorado and beyond. Dysfunction and turf wars must end—and reasonable, articulate, positive leadership must set an entirely new tone and tenor (while also advocating for our city regionally and nationally) in order for us to compete in the marketplace.
Mary Lou Makepeace: We need to change the narrative of Colorado Springs. Let’s focus on our success stories and the amazing features and qualities of this city. I want to imbue the whole community and especially City Government with a positive, entrepreneurial, and innovative spirit.
Joel Miller: I am raising three teenage daughters. I repeatedly emphasize to my girls that they need to define themselves–not let other people, radio ads, TV commercials or cover girls define them or make them feel like they need to be someone else. The same lesson holds true with our City.
John Suthers: The reputation issue goes beyond sustainability.  The mayor must lead the way in changing our self image and our external image.  I’ll constantly communicate that Colorado Springs is diverse and open to good ideas from all elements of the community.  Colorado Springs is a great place to live, work, play. 

City Council at Large

 

What is the biggest environmental concern facing Colorado Springs and why?

Bennett: We must continue to protect our water, air and land.  These are the foundations of our quality of life.  Our founder selected our area to build a city for these very environmental values.  This is why the Southern Delivery System, Drake and Nixon scrubbers and the Trails and Open Space initiative are critical issues to be completed and preserved.

Bowie: Colorado Springs is not immune to hunger, and with one in six Americans facing food insecurity at a time when up to 40% of landfills are comprised of wasted food is a result of poor planning. With collaborative efforts of the government, businesses and individuals, waste reduction and supporting people in need, can be obtained by using the ‘just-in-time’ model utilized by Colorado Springs Food Rescue.

Carlson: I believe we share a lot of the same issues that the rest of the world faces.  I believe carbon emissions is a huge problem and something we need to address sooner rather than later.

Gonzalez: Although part of it is nature itself, stormwater issues that are a result of recent burn scar, flooding, and unaddressed infrastructure projects are my greatest concern.  Runoff creates increased erosion of our mountains, and affects water quality, our parks, city streets and downrange streams and neighbors.

Lee: The biggest concern for the future environment of Colorado Springs is making the decision on when and how to retire Drake power plant.  This is going to have incredible fiscal, social, and environmental impacts for the future of our city.  We must make highly informed and logical decisions here.

Strand: The purity of our water and air are the greatest environmental concerns.  Here, it’s the carbon pollution that is my #1 worry.  The emissions from our coal fueled power plants, specifically The Drake Plant downtown.  Also, the fossil fuel driven motors and vehicles in our community are problematic.

Walker: I believe our biggest environmental concern is our restricted access to water. We live in a high desert and have to make sure that we are mindful of our water usage as it isn’t an abundant resource that we can afford to waste.

Category Questions

Quality of Life/Health

Livability issues like transportation, parks and open space and access to healthy food impact quality of life for individuals and community well-being – economically, environmentally and socially. What are your one or two top investment priorities for making Colorado Springs a more livable city?

Bennett: Transportation is very important and we must find ways to expand it to the entire community.  In addition, I am fully committed to our parks and open space initiative which must result in the completion of our trails system including the ring the peak trail.  Healthy eating is critical to the health of your youth which is why I started Live Well Colorado Springs as the CEO of the YMCA.

Bowie: Colorado Springs currently has 44 active bus lines, while comparable cities have over 200 lines in operation. A fully functioning transit system would benefit employers and employees, to ensure that the work force can get to work on time and serves to assist that people of all abilities can enjoy our beautiful city. The extension of evening and weekend bus service would appeal to non-traditional riders so that evening activities can be enjoyed while reducing drunk driving.

Carlson: Transportation is a tough issue for Colorado Springs due to our sprawl.  That being said, I want to focus on making sure the people who rely on public transportation the most are being serviced.  I would like to put more emphasis on making sure our development plans include more bike paths and walking trails.

Gonzalez: Developing our infill corridors, prioritizing high density urban and mixed use residences, and completing connecting city trails and bike routes will improve livability without overwhelming infrastructure.  I will also promote continued development of open space and expanded public transportation which will help alleviate traffic congestion and reduce vehicle emissions.

Lee: My goal is to do everything I can to improve the quality of life in Colorado Springs.  Improving public transportation must be a top priority.  We need to take a long-term view and, while addressing our current needs, look to address the needs of Colorado Springs for decades to come.

Strand: My top two priorities are:   Transportation, and Open Space/Parks.  Since 2007 the PPRTA funding for public transit has plummeted leaving the elderly, young and disabled with inadequate frequency and routes.  Parks, Trails and Open spaces need over $ 180 million of fixes and improvements.  We are the out of doors.

Walker: I would like to continue to work and improve our active transportation systems. Expanding on the bus system would help meet the demands of future ridership and help better connect us.  Continuous trails and a bike share program are both things that I would like to work on as well.

Colorado Springs recently passed a resolution to join the Colorado Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Cities and Towns campaign. In doing so, city leaders have committed to advancing policy that improves access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity. Examples include mixed-use, compact development; pedestrian and cyclist safety; and healthy food retail projects. What one or two HEAL- friendly policies and initiatives would you champion if elected.

Bennett: All of them.  (see above)

Bowie: Healthy food retail projects would address food deserts for people located in areas where supermarkets are inaccessible, but I recommend that all residents strive to shop locally and request non-GMO modified foods.

Carlson: All of these are positive initiatives towards leading healthier lifestyles.  However, I want to be careful here to not get into a situation where I am telling people what to eat.  As an avid runner and cyclist, I am a huge advocate of more bike trails, trails, and paths.  I consider this more of a personal decision a great deal of the time.

Gonzalez I will promote increased use of farmers markets particularly downtown and any additional areas that are considered food deserts.  The city and local businesses should promote “buy local produce” and increase use of food products deemed heathy, sustainable, and low damage to our environment in local restaurants.

Lee: The city must continue to support the project underway for an accessible public market.  I support making access to physical activity more enjoyable through the completion and expansion of our trail system.  We have a wonderful system and putting more effort into its development will make Colorado Springe better.

Strand: It’s all about the critical safety of our pedestrians/ cyclists. More, better sharrows for our bike riders, and clearly marked cross walks and ramps for walkers.   Next is healthy food retail support and encouragement with more/better farmer’s markets and commercial stores to promoting/highlighting healthy fruits/vegetables.

Walker: Pedestrian and cyclist safety are two things from that list that I would champion. I see both as very important to improving our active transportation systems and healthy lifestyle.

Resiliency Planning

Stormwater funding in the Pikes Peak region has lagged behind other communities along the Front Range. A citizen initiated effort to create a fee to fund the backlog of stormwater projects was defeated in the November election. Given our responsibilities to our downstream neighbors, how should stormwater issues be addressed and funded?

Bennett: The council resolution which I championed with Jan Martin, is the best way forward.  However we must to this in cooperation with the new Mayor.  Currently I am providing the leadership to advance this as the Utilities Chair and the Pro Tem of Council.  I will continue to do so if reelected.

Bowie: Storm water is a major issue that will not pause for bureaucracy. It is unreasonable to rely upon relief funding and enacting preventative measures must happen before summer.

Carlson: I was disappointed that we did not address stormwater, but fully understand why it did not pass.  It was laced with bureaucracy, over-complicated, and even our own government leaders did not support it.  We still need to find the funding to fix these issues.  If it must be a tax, let’s call it a tax, and get started.  Definitive numbers and timelines.

Gonzalez: After balancing the budget, stormwater is my highest priority.  We should spend all the $7.9 million expiring SCIP savings on stormwater and a larger share of every new budget increase to addressing this issue.  Our utility has future obligations to Fountain Creek Watershed which can address concerns for downstream neighbors.

Lee: First, we should re-examine the city budget to look for any efficiencies. Next, we should perform an analysis of issuing municipal debt to fund some or all of the backlog.  Finally, with citizen input, we should draft a proposal with adequate oversight and transparency for a tax to generate funding.

Strand: Funding for storm water control and drainage is a top priority for me.  Immediate attention to redirecting City General Funds, another full court press with ballot request using bond money, or even new taxes.  This time, with full partnership of the Mayor and City Council.  We must do this now!

Walker: City leaders and stakeholders will have to come up with a unified solution that we can support together. Jan Martin’s recent resolution sets the tone but it won’t be enough. We need to create better messaging on how bad infrastructure directly affects our community, parks and open-space.

In recent years, Colorado Springs has experienced two devastating wildfires, and many homes within the Wildland Urban interface remain at risk. How should Colorado Springs address this problem?

Bennett: As a resident in Cedar Heights we have created a model in partnership with our fire department that is a model for the entire frontrange.  We must extend this to the entire Wildland Urban interface and continue it for our future.

Bowie: Forest fires are beyond horrific and I would differ professionals to answer how to mitigate risk.

Carlson: We are incredibly lucky to live in the environment we do.  I would like to ensure our public safety divisions are equipped to handle disasters like these the best they can.  Naturally, there are inherent risks living anywhere.  This is one of those risks that the homeowner has to be aware of and ok with.

Gonzalez: Preventative measures need to be promoted and conducted by all interested parties, including the city.  Creating defensible space is vital to saving these homes as is replanting areas to reduce erosion and flooding which also threatens homes.

Lee: The city government and Colorado Springs Fire Department must be diligent in education and implementation of wildfire mitigation efforts to help protect commercial and residential properties from the risk of wildfire.  The city already performs some mitigation services for no cost and I think we need to expand that program.

Strand: A huge concern and problem.   We need constant City Government attention to these threatening natural disasters.  We use all media sources, including social media, to educate all residents from pre-schoolers, to senior citizens, about fire & flood mitigation techniques.  Then we have to pray…

Walker:
We should address these risks with education on fire mitigation and safety. Our community has learned a great deal from these tragic occurrences and we need to make sure that we educate our city/region to decrease the risks as much as possible.

Stable Parks Funding

General Fund support for parks, trails and open space continues to lag behind 2008 levels, even though the overall general fund is now significantly higher. Would you support an increase in the parks budget and how should we begin to address the 180 million dollars in parks capital needs?

Bennett: Yes I would support it. We must address the capital needs of the parks at the same time we address infrastructure and public safety. This solution should be address with the Council, Mayor and the community working is a collaborative partnership.  If we work cooperatively toward a solution we will be successful.  Working separately will never have a successful conclusion.

Bowie: Colorado Springs is side tracked with the vision of a Downtown Stadium, which is detrimental to focusing on the desperate need for repairs and prevention of safety hazards. While it lacks the appeal of a slick new stadium, maintenance of preexisting infrastructure is an ideal way to create job growth.

Carlson: During economic downturns tax revenues decline and unfortunately funding for parks, trails, and open space is usually the first to take the hit. As our economy continues to recover, we will need to make sure we replace those funding sources to get our parks back at par.

Gonzalez: If the budget allows, we need to provide additional parks funding. Principally though, Increased funding needs to come from identified efficiencies in the budget and conversion of portions of parks to less water consuming landscapes.  Unfortunately, an increase to parks budget will be secondary to addressing stormwater needs this year.

Lee: I do support an increase in parks funding.  The backlog of parks capital improvement projects are just as important as our roads, information technology, storm water, and others.  We can’t ignore any of our needs if we are committed to improving the quality of like in Colorado Springs.

Strand: As TOSC Treasurer, I know about this immediate/critical need.   Yes, I would support and champion an increase to the Parks budget.   The Parks Operations, Development and Forestry budget for the past 2 years has been $6 1/2 million.  Gotta do 10% more a year.  All funding sources must be reexamined.

Walker: We have revenue problems not just for parks but many other areas and functions of the city as well.  I believe our parks are very important and I would support reviewing the budget as I will all other budgets to ensure that we’re providing the best service to the citizens.

Colorado Springs is home to America’s Mountain and one of the world’s greatest parks, Garden of the Gods. Our new parks master plan plans for anticipated population growth and doubles our urban trail system while adding 20,000 acres of open space.  Do you believe trails and open spaces are economic drivers for our community and what would you do to support the goals of the new master plan?

Bennett: Yes I am in complete agreement.  I will work as the legislative body to work with the Administration and the Parks Board to fulfill the entire master plan.

Bowie: I’m more concerned with containing sprawl and a focus on urban renewal. I do not know how additional trails will affect wildlife.

Carlson: Absolutely, making Colorado Springs an attractive place where people want to be is one of the best ways to ensure people and businesses want to be here.  They contribute a great deal to people’s overall happiness.  Happy citizens=productive citizens.

 Gonzalez: I moved back to Colorado Springs specifically because of this beauty.  I indeed believe we need to tie business projects and livability to this great natural resource.  By identifying efficiencies and savings in the park budget I will continue expansion and development of largely self-sustaining open space.

Lee: I absolutely believe that open space and trails are economic drivers and are one of Colorado Springs’ greatest assets.  I plan to start addressing open space needs as part of economic development.  I believe that the two go hand in hand.  We can’t attract jobs without great parks and trails.

Strand: I am familiar with, and fully support the goals of the Sept 2014, 183 pages, Park System Master Plan.  There is no doubt that our natural resources are key economic drivers.  These National Treasures bring tens of thousands of guests, and millions of $ of revenue and taxes to our City.  I’m on board…

Walker: Absolutely. One of Colorado Springs’ biggest economic impacts/draws is the active and healthy lifestyle our city can provide. Not only do the current residents benefit from this but it is a powerful tool in recruiting organizations to locate here and convincing existing companies to stay.

Improving Bicycle Infrastructure

Many communities along the Front Range are realizing notable economic, health, and environmental benefits through the retrofit of their transportation networks to better accommodate walking and biking for everyday trips. For us to realize these benefits what do you think Colorado Springs should do to become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly and what role would you play in that?

Bagley: City departments should create unified master plans ensuring our city is more bicyclist and pedestrian friendly.  City departments must coordinate when building and maintaining our roads.  New roads should include safe ADA compliant sidewalks, and bike lanes.

New economic data indicates bicycling related expenditures has a 27 million dollar impact on our region. What do you see as the place of cycling in our city’s future both as a form of everyday transportation and a form of recreation? Specifically, are there any key programs, policies, or projects that you see as pivotal for advancing bicycling and walking in our community so that we can grow this impact in the coming years?

Bagley: Many other US cities have realized tremendous economic benefit from efforts to prioritize bike transportation and recreation.  City leaders should lead by example in this area and prioritize bike infrastructure, to include safe bike lanes and trail connectivity, along with iconic trails like the Legacy Loop, envisioned by General Palmer.

Many of our peer communities along the Front Range have achieved notable distinction through the League of American Cyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Program. Specifically, Denver is currently silver and is pursuing gold this year. Fort Collins is platinum and going for diamond in 2016. Boulder is currently platinum.  Colorado Springs is silver and was informed last year that we risk losing that designation and becoming a bronze-level community.  What would you do as Mayor / council member to help the community maintain its silver designation?

Bagley: We must avoid losing our Silver designation and even strive for Gold.  I will work together with the Mayor to prioritize bike infrastructure with funding, and promote unified master plans for bike and road infrastructure and our Mountain Metro transit system.    

Colorado Springs Utilities

One of City Council’s largest responsibilities is serving as the Utilities Board for Colorado Springs Utilities. Should changes be made to the governance structure process for Colorado Springs Utilities? Is the current model of City Council serving as the Utilities Board the best way to govern utilities in the future?

Bagley: The current utilities governance is, and has been for years, working – great service, reasonable rates, and plans for the future.  Although I would not change or modify anything at this time, I support a review of governance alternatives to determine if there is an approach to improve efficiency, lower rates, and improve service.

Do you support Colorado Springs Utilities’ Energy Vision, which currently includes a goal of getting 20% of our electricity from renewable sources? Why or why not?

Bagley: I support the Energy Vision.  It is the Utilities Board role to plan strategically by not just making decisions for the lowest energy costs today, but for energy costs 20 years from now. We should be making capital decisions now to get us to 20% renewables by 2020 per UPAC’s recommendation.

Water resources are scarce in the southwest, Colorado Springs currently gets 70% of its water resources from the Colorado River, which continues to experience drought. How should Colorado Springs Utilities address potential water shortages?

Bagley: The Colorado River also serves many states having severe drought, water rights may shift more to the lower states.  Thus it’s very important to residents to make permanent changes to lower their water usage.  SDS could ameliorate shortages to some degree.

Relationship with Universities and Improving our Image

Colorado Springs has excellent resources with its higher education institutions.  The institutions have ad-hoc relationships with the city, the local government, and various entities such as Colorado Springs Utilities currently, but the potential of these institutions as formal, forward-looking resources towards both engagement and solutions is highly underutilized.   In what ways do you think the city can and should partner with and leverage the collective knowledge and resources that these institutions provide?

Bagley: The efforts started at the Airport to create jobs are a model for partnering and leveraging this knowledge and resources.  Working with Pikes Peak College, education and training courses were established to support the new work force – a selling point.

Colorado Springs frequently has a less than desirable reputation around sustainability issues – in circles outside the city and across the country.  Often this reputation is based on sub–sets of the population, active political fringes, or other misconceptions of our city.  However, this reputation does exist and is widespread nonetheless. In what ways can we begin to repair this reputation and begin to properly represent the finer truths of our city and its applicability to the 21st century?

Bagley: The Council and the Mayor must articulate and proclaim to the widest possible audience that we a) have an infrastructure plan that will support growth; b) are a safe city of exceptional beauty with outstanding educational, recreational and cultural assets; and c) have the support services for a healthy and vibrant community.

City Council District 2

 

What is the biggest environmental concern facing Colorado Springs and why?

Bagley: Water will continue to be the environmental concern.  Since our major source of water is the Colorado River, which also serves states having severe drought, water rights may shift to the lower states.  Its important residents make permanent changes to lower their water usage.

Category Questions

Quality of Life/Health

Livability issues like transportation, parks and open space and access to healthy food impact quality of life for individuals and community well-being – economically, environmentally and socially. What are your one or two top investment priorities for making Colorado Springs a more livable city?

Bagley: Transportation, and Parks and Open Space.  Both are key in a truly vibrant and viable community to draw young professionals.  Support initiatives underway and planned to create an environment for job and economic growth to generate revenue.  Allocate funds to support a robust transit system, and parks and open spaces.

Colorado Springs recently passed a resolution to join the Colorado Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Cities and Towns campaign. In doing so, city leaders have committed to advancing policy that improves access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity. Examples include mixed-use, compact development; pedestrian and cyclist safety; and healthy food retail projects. What one or two HEAL- friendly policies and initiatives would you champion if elected.

Bagley: Policy changes regarding the resiliency of our food system in the HEAL resolution could have the greatest impact on our community.   Council is moving forward to create a food policy advisory board, and spearheaded an infill and redevelopment committee to create mixed-use and a vibrant downtown.  I support these efforts.

Resiliency Planning

Stormwater funding in the Pikes Peak region has lagged behind other communities along the Front Range. A citizen initiated effort to create a fee to fund the backlog of stormwater projects was defeated in the November election. Given our responsibilities to our downstream neighbors, how should stormwater issues be addressed and funded?

Bagley: I supported the stormwater funding ballot question this past November, and alternatives presented to the City Council in January.  We need to look at both short term and long term approaches to funding infrastructure repairs and maintenance – bonds, budget adjustments, and other sources, and create a job-friendly environment to generate revenue.

In recent years, Colorado Springs has experienced two devastating wildfires, and many homes within the Wildland Urban interface remain at risk. How should Colorado Springs address this problem?

Bagley: Continue to support and increase the emphasis on a) the Fire Department Wildfire Mitigation Program, b) planning for and practicing evacuations, c) regional crisis communications systems and response teams, and d) aggressively seek the location of the Wildfire Center in Colorado Springs.  Mitigation efforts have proved beneficial.

Stable Parks Funding

General Fund support for parks, trails and open space continues to lag behind 2008 levels, even though the overall general fund is now significantly higher. Would you support an increase in the parks budget and how should we begin to address the 180 million dollars in parks capital needs?

Bagley: If we create an environment to attract and sustain new jobs to our community and stimulate the local economy, the resulting revenue should provide funds to sustain our parks.  I would support increasing the parks budget.  Other possible funding includes SCIP Bonds, excess TABOR funds (ballot question), or reallocate budget.

Colorado Springs is home to America’s Mountain and one of the world’s greatest parks, Garden of the Gods. Our new parks master plan plans for anticipated population growth and doubles our urban trail system while adding 20,000 acres of open space.  Do you believe trails and open spaces are economic drivers for our community and what would you do to support the goals of the new master plan?

Bagley: Trails and open spaces are a key factor in creating an environment to attract and sustain new jobs and stimulate the local economy to generate revenue.  Within budget constrains I strongly support the goals of the new master plan.

Improving Bicycle Infrastructure

Many communities along the Front Range are realizing notable economic, health, and environmental benefits through the retrofit of their transportation networks to better accommodate walking and biking for everyday trips. For us to realize these benefits what do you think Colorado Springs should do to become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly and what role would you play in that?

Bagley: City departments should create unified master plans ensuring our city is more bicyclist and pedestrian friendly.  City departments must coordinate when building and maintaining our roads.  New roads should include safe ADA compliant sidewalks, and bike lanes.

New economic data indicates bicycling related expenditures has a 27 million dollar impact on our region. What do you see as the place of cycling in our city’s future both as a form of everyday transportation and a form of recreation? Specifically, are there any key programs, policies, or projects that you see as pivotal for advancing bicycling and walking in our community so that we can grow this impact in the coming years?

Bagley: Many other US cities have realized tremendous economic benefit from efforts to prioritize bike transportation and recreation.  City leaders should lead by example in this area and prioritize bike infrastructure, to include safe bike lanes and trail connectivity, along with iconic trails like the Legacy Loop, envisioned by General Palmer.

Many of our peer communities along the Front Range have achieved notable distinction through the League of American Cyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Program. Specifically, Denver is currently silver and is pursuing gold this year. Fort Collins is platinum and going for diamond in 2016. Boulder is currently platinum.  Colorado Springs is silver and was informed last year that we risk losing that designation and becoming a bronze-level community.  What would you do as Mayor / council member to help the community maintain its silver designation?

Bagley: We must avoid losing our Silver designation and even strive for Gold.  I will work together with the Mayor to prioritize bike infrastructure with funding, and promote unified master plans for bike and road infrastructure and our Mountain Metro transit system.    

Colorado Springs Utilities

One of City Council’s largest responsibilities is serving as the Utilities Board for Colorado Springs Utilities. Should changes be made to the governance structure process for Colorado Springs Utilities? Is the current model of City Council serving as the Utilities Board the best way to govern utilities in the future?

Bagley: The current utilities governance is, and has been for years, working – great service, reasonable rates, and plans for the future.  Although I would not change or modify anything at this time, I support a review of governance alternatives to determine if there is an approach to improve efficiency, lower rates, and improve service.

Do you support Colorado Springs Utilities’ Energy Vision, which currently includes a goal of getting 20% of our electricity from renewable sources? Why or why not?

Bagley: I support the Energy Vision.  It is the Utilities Board role to plan strategically by not just making decisions for the lowest energy costs today, but for energy costs 20 years from now. We should be making capital decisions now to get us to 20% renewables by 2020 per UPAC’s recommendation.

Water resources are scarce in the southwest, Colorado Springs currently gets 70% of its water resources from the Colorado River, which continues to experience drought. How should Colorado Springs Utilities address potential water shortages?

Bagley: The Colorado River also serves many states having severe drought, water rights may shift more to the lower states.  Thus it’s very important to residents to make permanent changes to lower their water usage.  SDS could ameliorate shortages to some degree.

Relationship with Universities and Improving our Image

Colorado Springs has excellent resources with its higher education institutions.  The institutions have ad-hoc relationships with the city, the local government, and various entities such as Colorado Springs Utilities currently, but the potential of these institutions as formal, forward-looking resources towards both engagement and solutions is highly underutilized.   In what ways do you think the city can and should partner with and leverage the collective knowledge and resources that these institutions provide?

Bagley: The efforts started at the Airport to create jobs are a model for partnering and leveraging this knowledge and resources.  Working with Pikes Peak College, education and training courses were established to support the new work force – a selling point.

Colorado Springs frequently has a less than desirable reputation around sustainability issues – in circles outside the city and across the country.  Often this reputation is based on sub–sets of the population, active political fringes, or other misconceptions of our city.  However, this reputation does exist and is widespread nonetheless. In what ways can we begin to repair this reputation and begin to properly represent the finer truths of our city and its applicability to the 21st century?

Bagley: The Council and the Mayor must articulate and proclaim to the widest possible audience that we a) have an infrastructure plan that will support growth; b) are a safe city of exceptional beauty with outstanding educational, recreational and cultural assets; and c) have the support services for a healthy and vibrant community.

 


Support a child!

Blog Posts

Like us!

Contact Us

Catamount Institute
740 West Caramillo St.
Colo Spgs, CO 80907
Phone: (719) 471-0910
Fax: (719) 471-0910
Website: www.catamountinstitute.org
Email: info@catamountinstitute.org