Developers pump another $257K into strong mayor campaign

November 1, 2010

A prominent Colorado Springs family that has developed large swaths of the city loaned a political committee trying to convince voters to switch to a strong-mayor form of government an additional $257,500 last month, according to campaign reports released Monday.

Since May, David Jenkins and his son, Chris, have loaned the campaign $641,000.

“At this point, it is likely that those loans will be converted to a donation to the campaign, and the loans will be forgiven,” campaign spokeswoman Rachel Beck said Monday.

The group Citizens for Accountable Leadership reported the loan by Monday’s campaign finance reporting deadline. The group is campaigning in support of Initiative 300, a charter change that would end the city’s longstanding council-manager form of government.

The latest loan, received Oct. 14, came from a 501(c)4 known as CS Governance Initiative, Inc., which is being funded primarily by David and Chris Jenkins.

“This is an important initiative to them,” Beck said. “They feel that this is key to the success of the community.”

In addition to a series of loans, the father and son also provided most of the $120,000 in seed money to get the initiative off the ground.

“Frankly, our decision to invest this seed funding was an easy one for us,” they said recently in a joint letter to the editor. “We believe that Colorado Springs is stalled, and that Initiative 300 will enable the effective, accountable leadership we need at City Hall to return our city to the economic and cultural vitality the community deserves.”

David Jenkins, a Colorado Springs native, is the founder and chairman of Nor’wood Development Group. Chris Jenkins, who joined the company in 1994, is the president.

Nor’wood is one of the city’s biggest and oldest commercial and residential real estate developers. Its holdings and developments include the Nor’wood and Wolf Ranch residential subdivisions on the city’s northeast side; several commercial developments along Powers Boulevard, including the First & Main Town Center retail and entertainment complex and the Powers Auto Park, and the downtown Plaza of the Rockies office complex.

Beck, the campaign spokeswoman, said running an effective campaign is expensive.

“In terms of donations, this has been a tough year for fundraising,” she said.

“The economy is bad, and people don’t have a lot of money to give. A lot of people have also said that if they are going to give to a political campaign, their priority is” to fight Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 on the statewide ballot, she added.

Some opponents of the measures, however, have raised concerns that most of the campaign’s money is from developers.

Including the loans, the strong-mayor proponents have raised more than $800,000 and have spent almost all of it

“Not only does it take money to buy TV time and mail things to voters, there’s a lot of competition this particular election season for voters’ attention,” Beck said. “So we have to make sure that we’re conveying our message through the clutter.”

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