Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Colorado Springs group to discuss ideas to increase citizen involvement

By Monica Mendoza Updated: February 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

A November city election might get a better voter turnout than elections in April.

It's one idea that will be discussed in a series of meetings hosted by a loose coalition of Colorado Springs residents who say their No. 1 goal is to increase citizen engagement in local issues.

Other ideas include changing the number of City Council districts and whether City Council elections should be decided by majority or plurality.

"The most important thing is we are looking to have a really good conversation about all this," said Dave Munger, president of the Council of Neighbors and Organizations. "I'm hoping we will see a real consensus in the community about what makes sense with regard to improving elections."

It all started when some residents felt left out of the city's redistricting process in 2012. The City Clerk hosted one public meeting on a Saturday and while she listened to citizen input and incorporated many suggestions, some said they did not want a repeat of that scenario.

Earlier this year, the group - members of the Citizens Project, Council of Neighbors and Organizations, the League of Women Voters, Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Springs Rising Professionals - asked City Council to make citizen input part of the city's law. Now, it is.

A city ordinance creates a citizens' commission that works side-by-side with the City Clerk to define boundaries in the future redistricting process, said Kristy Milligan, executive director of Citizens Project, a nonprofit organization active in a number of community issues, including civic engagement.

"We had so much success that we started to ask what would generate greater participation," Milligan said.

At this point there is no move to change the city's election process, said Rachel Beck, a CONO board member. If there is no interest, the issues will be dropped.

"Depending on what people have to say, if there is a strong consensus for any of these ideas, we will approach the council to put it on the ballot in November," Beck said.

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COMMUNITY MEETINGS

5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Rockrimmon Library, 832 Village Drive

5:30-7 p.m. March 6, Ruth Holley Library, 685 N. Murray Blvd.

12-1:30 p.m. March 11, Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave.

5:30-7 p.m. March 20, East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd.

5:30-7 p.m. March 26, Fire Station 20, 6755 Rangewood Drive

6-7:30 p.m. April 7, Deerfield Hills Community Center, 4290 Deerfield Hills Road

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