My campaign launched our first run-off commercial this week, and it certainly has gotten people’s attention. If you haven’t seen it yet, it outlines your two choices for our first strong mayor: me, a small businessman with a proven record of leadership in our community, and my opponent, Steve Bach, a real estate developer whose campaign is largely funded by other individuals and companies in the real estate development industry.
A Gazette editorial expressed concern about the tone and content of the ad. This guest column will provide more facts to back up the points we made in our brief, 30-second ad.
First, let me be clear about something. I think real estate developers play an integral role in our community and are important to the future of Colorado Springs. My door was always open to them when I was on council, and they definitely will have a seat at the table when their issues come up in my administration.
Second, though my opponent claims otherwise, he is a developer. For the record: he owned “The Bach Development Co.” “Stephen Bach Homes Ltd.,” and “Bach Real Estate Partners LLC.” All these were development companies, not brokerage firms. He was chief operating officer for an 8,000-acre master planned commercial and residential community and was the president of the Home Builders Association. He has been referred to as a “developer” by The Gazette, the Independent, the Business Journal and numerous other media outlets. Most important, he has received nearly half his campaign contributions from real estate and development interests. I simply worry that they will have too much influence over City Hall.
So do many others. As I make my way around the community on the campaign trail, literally hundreds of people have expressed that they think Bach will be beholden to developer real estate interests at a great cost to our city’s future. They are worried that this decades-old pattern of development interests providing the lion’s share of funding for local political races will create a status quo at City Hall that will let development run wild — to the detriment of our environment, our quality of life and our economy.
I believe there is a better way to grow that doesn’t involve sprawl, destruction of our precious natural resources, or more traffic congestion. I believe we should plan to redevelop our city’s core before we grow out, so blighted parts of the city can be redeveloped and revitalized without stretching city services. I believe we should also build a city for pedestrians and outdoor enthusiasts as well as automobiles.
I have spent my career running a small business and protecting this city’s outdoor life and valuable natural resources. As a leader of the TOPS initiative, I have helped create an outdoor infrastructure second to none, one that brings companies, jobs and revenue here. I want to grow that in the future.
Don’t give any special interest group too much control over the city.
Join me in protecting, enhancing and making Colorado Springs a balanced, financially healthy and truly beautiful community.
Richard Skorman is a businessman and a past member of the Colorado Springs City Council, who is running for Colorado Springs mayor.