Updated: December 1, 2010 at 12:00 am
Former Colorado Springs Councilman Richard Skorman is exploring a mayoral bid under the city’s new strong-mayor system.
Skorman, a prominent businessman who served seven years on the City Council, including two as vice mayor, filed papers with the city Tuesday to form a “Skorman 4 Mayor Exploratory Committee.”
“I need to get the word out that I’m interested to know how people feel about it,” Skorman said Wednesday.
“I’m just at the point where I want to understand, No. 1, if I have a decent chance of winning a mayoral race, if I can raise the money and get the broad base of support that I would need.
“The other is that I want to listen and learn more about what’s going on in the city (and city government) before I really get out there and open my mouth,” he said.
Skorman, who owns several businesses on North Tejon Street, including Poor Richard’s Bookstore and Restaurant, has lived in Colorado Springs since 1970, he said.
Skorman served on council from 1999 to 2006, when he resigned to become regional director for then-Sen. Ken Salazar, a Democrat.
“I’m term-limited on council, and I didn’t want to stop my work in helping to shape our community and helping to give back in the ways that are important,” he said at the time.
Skorman also has worked as finance director for the Trust for Public Land and executive director of Leadership Pikes Peak.
“I have a good perspective,” he said. “I think this new mayor, this new system (of government) is going to need somebody with experience to get it set up and make sure that it’s a fair system and a system that works well for the community. I feel confident I have the experience to do that.”
So far, seven candidates have filed papers to run for mayor in the April election.
Civic leader Les Gruen, who owns a land planning consulting firm, said Colorado Springs needs a mayor who can “hit the ground running” under the voter-approved stong-mayor system of government, which gives the mayor more muscle at City Hall.
“I think Richard is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, in my opinion, the best candidate to be the first strong mayor in Colorado Springs,” said Gruen, who is the registered agent of Skorman’s exploratory committee.
“He’s a guy that, historically, I think, has been able to unify battling sides better than many or most,” Gruen said. “I think that’s something that our community could benefit from right now.”
In 2006, Skorman was described as the “lone liberal voice” on the City Council.
“Skorman sometimes clashed with the rest of the council and found himself on the losing side of a number of 8-1 votes, including the 2003 decision to repeal benefits for same-sex partners of city workers,” according to a story in The Gazette. “But he was respected enough that the council chose him to serve as vice mayor from 2003-05.”
Skorman said he’s fiscally conservative but that he would land on the liberal side on social issues.
“I’ve always been a very strong proponent of open space and trails, and I’ve also been somebody who wanted everybody to feel welcomed in the community, if they happen to be gay or not,” he said.