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Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers takes his roasting - with a grin and a hug

February 18, 2017 Updated: February 18, 2017 at 9:34 pm
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Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers June 6, 2015. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers was the toast of the roast Saturday night benefiting Cheyenne Village, and he took all the ribbing in stride, despite digs about his short stature and disappearing hair.

Former newspaper columnist Rich Tosches was emcee for the event for his seventh year, raising money for the home for developmentally disabled adults.

Tosches said he ran into Suthers and his brother-in-law, 6-foot-4-inch Ben Gill, in the lobby before the event. Gill "looked like a guy taking his Chihuahua for a walk," Tosches quipped.

In a "Who is John Suthers?" video aired before the roast, Amy Lathen was shown slumped in a bar, slurping martinis.

"State attorney general?" asked the executive director of Colorado Springs Forward, who ran for mayor against Suthers in 2015.

"Mayor? People say you're generous. Seems selfish to me," Lathen said, emitting an Academy Award-worthy belch.

Referring to Suthers' campaign promise to work collaboratively with the City Council, council President Merv Bennett recalled how during Suthers' first year as mayor, "Every time John and I were at a ... function, John wanted to hug me in public. I could not get away from John.

"My wife one night said, 'What is up with John hugging you all the time?' I said, 'I think he's got a condition. I think he's hug deprived.'

"From now on, every time you see John, give him a hug," Bennett pleaded. At that, the grinning mayor leaped off his stool on stage and embraced Bennett yet again.

Last year, Tosches said, the previous mayor (Steve Bach) was asked to do the roast. He wouldn't do it.

"It was two words," the emcee recalled, "and the second one was 'you.'"

Gill, "baby brother" of the mayor's wife, Janet, said Suthers had been mature and responsible since childhood.

He was elected student body president at St. Mary's High School. His campaign slogan? "No others but Suthers."

Gill then interrupted his ballad to Suthers. "I would like to point out: Mayor rhymes with hair. I avoided the cheap shot."

He ended the ballad with a far different line: "I'll say it again, with no reason to rhyme. No others but Suthers. You get my vote every time."

Suthers, mayor for nearly two years, previously spent 10 years as state attorney general after serving as head of the state Department of Corrections, U.S. attorney for Colorado and district attorney for the 4th Judicial District encompassing El Paso and Teller counties.

College buddy David Johnson introduced himself as "the token Democrat in the room. Calling this a nonpartisan event is like saying Notre Dame is a fine Southern Baptist university."

Johnson said he has voted for Suthers "for DA twice, for AG twice, and I even voted for John Suthers for president of the U.S. in 2016. His comb-over was way better than the Republican candidate's."

But Johnson didn't let up there. "Some say John is a conservative guy," he said. "If you look in the dictionary under conservative, John's picture is there. But if you look under some other words, his picture is there too. 'Dull.' 'Altar boy.' 'Boy Scout.' 'Boring. And 'nerd.'"

But, the Democrat noted, "John has passed up the honor of higher office many times to serve his state and hometown. We could use a few more politicians like him."

At that, the crowd of about 600 people burst into sustained applause.

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