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New plan surfaces to restructure City Council with more, smaller district seats

By: BILL VOGRIN
May 4, 2010
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A new proposal to reorganize the City Council surfaced Tuesday with the filing at the City Clerk’s office of a plan to add a fifth council district, eliminating an at-large seat.

The idea, proposed by the City Council Restructure Petitioner’s Committee, would shrink districts from the current average of 100,000 residents apiece to about 82,300 each. Its plan would leave just three at-large council seats instead of the current four.

Committee member Dennis Moore said the city has grown too much and the districts are too diverse for anyone to fairly represent them.

“Every region of the city needs better representation,” said Moore, a retiree who served 20 years in the Air Force and another 20 years as a civilian analyst for the military. He has been a neighborhood activist and is a volunteer coordinator for Colorado Springs Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch program.

“This is a bunch of people, all active in our neighborhoods, who don’t feel we’re being represented,” Moore said of his committee. “This is not about one neighborhood or another. How can anyone truly know what’s going on in such large districts? The districts are too vast. We need more proportional representation for the people.”

Besides Moore, the committee members include Al Loma, a minister and member of the Colorado Springs District 11 School Board, as well as Samuel Otero, Young Choi and Lawrence Martinez.

Moore said the city’s Initiative Review Committee will convene at 1 p.m. Friday in the City Council Chambers to consider the proposal. If it is approved for the ballot, a title would be assigned and the group could start collecting estimated 33,000 signatures of registered voters it would need to be placed on the November ballot.

“We don’t have any money behind us,” Moore said. “We are everyday people who feel we need smaller districts so you get someone who understands your concerns.”

The plan joins the growing debate about the future of the nine-member City Council. Mayor Lionel Rivera has proposed scrapping the city manager and creating a strong mayor to become the city’s chief executive officer.

His proposal calls for a nine-member City Council with five district seats and three at-large, as Moore’s group proposes.

In addition, the Citizens for Accountable Leadership is trying to generate public support for its own version of a strong-mayor form of government.

In fact, it is hosting a town-hall meeting on the issue from 4 to 6 p.m. today at Stargazers Theatre and Event Center, 10 S. Parkside Drive.

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