Despite promises of a big-tent approach to state government, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has somewhat left Colorado Springs out in the cold when it comes to appointments to state boards, councils and the like.
In his first 11 months in office, Hickenlooper has appointed 426 people to varying positions that are not based on geography. But only 18 of those have been from El Paso County, the most populous county in the state. And just 15 have been from Colorado Springs, the second-largest city.
Several of those appointments include prominent Democrats, such as Harrison School District Superintendent Mike Miles, who ran for the U.S. Senate on the Democratic ticket in 2004. Hickenlooper appointed Miles to the Education Leadership Council in August.
The short list also includes developer Chuck Murphy, a major Democratic contributor and friend of Hickenlooper’s. Murphy was appointed to the state Gaming Commission in July.
That doesn’t mean conservatives have been ignored — Dave Csintyan, president of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, was one of Hickenlooper’s picks for the Colorado Workforce Development Council.
Hickenlooper also chose David Palenchar, senior vice president of programs at the El Pomar Foundation, to the state board of Great Outdoors Colorado.
Still, more people from Pueblo have been appointed to government boards and councils than from El Paso County — including Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia’s four repeat appointments, Pueblo locals have been named to 23 positions by the governor.
Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown defended the governor’s appointments in an email. He wrote that only 52 people from Colorado Springs had applied thus far for various boards and commissions, which means that roughly a third of those who applied were accepted.
Some limitations, he said, are “geographic, professional, public and Congressional District representation.”
“Each board is unique in its composition and the membership is based on what the charge is for that particular board or commission. Not everyone in every city or town in Colorado is often eligible to apply for openings,” Brown wrote.
Colorado Springs City Councilman Tim Leigh isn’t buying the governor’s defense.
“It speaks to an attitude almost of superiority in the Denver metro-plex,” Leigh said. “When they look down-range, they look down their noses.
“They can’t send a stronger message when they make those appointments.”
El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark was more sympathetic, but she said the governor’s office needs to do a better job of spreading the word about the openings.
“I don’t know how you’d know about some of these boards,” Clark said. “I only know sometimes by word of mouth.”
Of those 426 appointments, 129 have been from Denver. That doesn't include appointments from metro-area cities and towns, such as Lakewood, Centennial, Thornton, and more.
Other noteworthy appointments from El Paso County include psychologist Dr. Anthony Young to the chair of the state Board of Parole; Lt. Gov. Garcia’s wife, Claire Garcia, to the Colorado Council on the Arts; Colorado Springs Conservatory head Linda Weise to the Colorado Endowment for the Arts; and Wayne Vanderschuere, the general manager of the Colorado Springs Utilities Water Services Division, to the Interbasin Compact Committee.
Contact John Schroyer: 476-4825
Facebook Gazette John Schroyer