April 18, 2005
After one of the sleepiest city election seasons in memory, a Colorado Springs government race is finally stirring some interest. As many as five of the nine City Council members could be in the running for the job of vice mayor — a partly ceremonial position involving more work but no more pay.
The position — whose official duties could be summarized as “Play mayor when the mayor’s not around” — historically has drawn little notice. Leon Young held the job for the better part of two decades before retiring in 2001. Since then, Lionel Rivera — who’s now mayor — and Richard Skorman have each served two-year stints. Suddenly, several council members want the job. Some say it would thrust them into a leadership role; others say the job allows them to speak with more authority to other cities and elected officials. Council members say the race is a friendly competition, but there’s talk of sparring behind the scenes. “I think all (the candidates) would like that same opportunity to have that same responsibility or that honor,” Vice Mayor Skorman said. “It’s really the only place all of us can go to advance.” In addition to Skorman, Randy Purvis, Margaret Radford and Larry Small confirmed they are lobbying for the gig. The council will vote April 26 on who will hold the No. 2 title for the next two years. Darryl Glenn declined comment on whether he is in the running. Tom Gallagher, Jerry Heimlicher and Scott Hente have no interest in the job. In all likelihood, council members won’t have to choose between multiple candidates at the April 26 meeting. In past years, candidates who realized they didn’t have five votes to get the job dropped out, and the winner was elected unanimously. The vice mayor runs meetings when the mayor is away and often fills in at speeches or ribbon-cuttings. But, as Skorman said, that person is also second in line when prominent out-oftowners want to speak to a city official. Skorman, the only non-Republican council member, says his political leanings have helped him reach out to the Democratic-controlled Legislature and new U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo. Radford, a former journalist, touts her communications skills. Purvis, who served from 1987-99 before being elected again in 2003, emphasizes that his experience will help him when representing the city to the state or other cities. Small, who serves on six other community committees, says he feels he can handle taking on more work. Rivera vaulted from vice mayor to the city’s top job in the 2003 election, but all the candidates denied wanting to use this position as a steppingstone. They also deny being enticed by the possibility that Rivera could vacate his seat before 2007, elevating the vice mayor into the No. 1 position. The mayor said he has not ruled out the idea of running for Congress if Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., doesn’t seek reelection in 2006. Past vice-mayor races have gotten testy, such as the 2001 showdown between Rivera and then-councilman Jim Null, Skorman said. Despite the competition, the vice-mayoral candidates and the council members who are getting lobbied hope this election won’t have lasting repercussions. Radford referred to it as a “friendly rivalry.” “I hope it will be just like everything else we’ve done, where we disagree and then we go onto the next issue,” Heimlicher said. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0184 or email@example.com WHO WANTS THE JOB? As many as five of the nine City Council members want to be Colorado Springs vice mayor. Randy Purvis: Stresses his years of council experience. Margaret Radford: Touts her communcation skills. Richard Skorman: Says his job is the only way to advance. Larry Small: Says he’s ready to take on the extra work. Darryl Glenn: Wouldn’t say whether he wants the job.