Declaring victory over "out-of-state spending," incumbent Jill Gaebler turned back her challenger by a 2-to-1 margin in the District 5 City Council race, results show.
Gaebler received 9,576 votes compared to Lynette Crow-Iverson's 4,860, according to preliminary results posted Tuesday evening.
"We will continue to do great things for the city," Gaebler said at Johnny's Navajo Hogan tavern, where a crowd of more than 60 cheered her lead, including six former council members. Emotional and ebullient, Gaebler credited a large network of volunteers, donors, her husband and campaign manager for her apparent win.
"This room is filled with people of all stripes, colors, perspectives and views," Gaebler said. "We are not divided. We can find common ground."
The race pitted Gaebler, an open space advocate who favors promoting in-fill development in the city's core, rather than annexing new territory, versus Crow-Iverson, a political newcomer who drew support from the Housing & Building Association and another group linked to prominent business people committed to robust economic development.
Admitting defeat, Crow-Iverson suggested low turnout helped sink her chances.
"It's hard to beat an incumbent with 18 percent turnout," she said, referring to the percentage of eligible voters who cast ballots in District 5.
After results were posted, the candidates squared off over the role of spending, a flashpoint in the campaign.
Decrying "out-of -state money," Gaebler said she "overcame huge odds" and plans to pursue campaign finance reform to increase transparency of big-time donors, which she said contributed to a "brutal" campaign.
Crow-Iverson suggested Gaebler was pushing "fake news" in her complaints over spending, saying that "dark money" was in fact "free speech."
Gaebler overcame a stark fundraising disadvantage. In an election where donors pumped more than $800,000 into municipal campaigns, Crow-Iverson netted $70,548, from about 77 donors, and Gaebler took in $43,175 from at least 330 donors.
Their clash of perspectives led to fireworks during the campaign, with Gaebler requesting a criminal probe into a political mailer from Crow-Iverson's camp that Gaebler said pushed an "extreme" mischaracterization.
El Paso County prosecutors ultimately declined to file charges, tying the false claim in the Crow-Iverson mailer to erroneous information her campaign had received from the Colorado Municipal League.
But Gaebler's campaign fired off a missile of its own, referring to "liberal Lynette" in a dueling mailer and accusing her opponent of lobbying for "$250 million in new taxes," a reference to a 2015 ballot measure, Issue 2C, that Gaebler supported as a councilwoman.
Crow-Iverson campaigned on promises of pursuing economic development and growing the city's business profile.
District 5 includes more than 73,000 residents in central Colorado Springs, encompassing parts of the city's near west side, Old North End and Knob Hill neighborhoods and portions of neighborhoods near Palmer Park and the Chapel Hills Mall.
Gazette Business Writer Wayne Heilman contributed to this story.