March 24, 2010
Two political veterans and a prominent businessman will lead a campaign to convert the city of Colorado Springs to a strong-mayor form of government.
Citizens for Accountable Leadership, which is proposing a November ballot initiative to change the city’s system of government, announced Wednesday that Andy McElhany, Mary Ellen McNally and Chuck Murphy will co-chair the campaign committee.
“As chairs of the citizen-driven group, McElhany, McNally and Murphy will help organize the community input process, act as spokespeople for the campaign and oversee the creation of a ballot initiative that will fit the values and needs of Colorado Springs,” the group said in a news release.
Under the existing council-manager form of government, the mayor and council members appoint a manager to carry out their directives. The proposed charter change would give the mayor executive power and eliminate the position of city manager.
McElhany, a Republican, is a former state Senate minority leader who has lived in the Pikes Peak area for 30 years. He is the former chairman of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and current chairman of Citizens for Cost-Effective Government.
“There’s an old saying, ‘If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,’” McElhany said in a statement. “I agree with that sentiment. But in this instance, our system of government at City Hall is clearly broken.”
In an interview, McElhany said the campaign committee plans to reach out to the community to solicit feedback to help shape the proposed initiative.
“I think over the next few weeks you will see a lot of town forums and public meetings as we try to get public input on how to fill in the details” of the proposal, from pay to term limits, he said.
“We don’t want just a small group of individuals trying to answer those questions. We think there should be broad-based community input,” he added.
McNally is a former Colorado Springs School District 11 school board member and city councilwoman. She ran for mayor in 1991, losing to incumbent Robert Isaac. Because she ran for mayor that year, she had to give up her council seat. McNally has been active with the Chamber of Commerce and numerous other groups in town.
Murphy, a lifelong Democrat who has lived in Colorado Springs nearly 75 years, is a well-known contractor who is currently on the board of the Downtown Partnership.
“This is our chance to strengthen our city,” Murphy said, also in a statement.
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Staff writer Rich Laden contributed to this report.