Richard Skorman, the former vice mayor and downtown entrepreneur, cruised to victory Tuesday in City Council District 3 over businessman Chuck Fowler, who had support from several influential business and civic groups, according to city election results.
A councilman from 1999 to 2006 and vice mayor for two years, Skorman led the District 3 race with 58 percent of the vote to Fowler's 42 percent. District 3 covers southwest Colorado Springs, much of the city's west side and a large portion of downtown.
Skorman ran on his council and business experience, but also credited a grassroots campaign. He raised the most money of any City Council candidate - $77,285, according to the latest financial reports. But his contributions were spread out over at least 483 donors, while Fowler's $66,395 came from just over 70 backers.
"We had a message that resonated with people," Skorman said.
But he also said his victory signaled a voter rejection of large organizations and anonymous, outside-the-community groups and donors who tried to influence the election.
"There was some fear about too many special interests taking over the city government," Skorman said. "I think people want a balance. I don't think they want to see candidates that don't have the experience, but also don't have the broad base of support."
Voters also didn't like negative campaigning, said Skorman, adding that he and incumbent Jill Gaebler - who won an overwhelming victory in District 5 - were targets of unfair attacks.
"All our opponents were negative against us," he said. "It wasn't necessarily them, but there was other money. But it's a local election. People don't want to see that."
District 3 was one of Tuesday's higher-profile races, as Skorman and Fowler sought to succeed incumbent Keith King, who didn't seek re-election.
Skorman had years of name recognition from his time on council and as owner of a downtown restaurant and book store. He was an original backer of the city's Trails, Open Space and Parks ordinance. And as an open space advocate, he opposed the city's Strawberry Fields land swap with The Broadmoor hotel.
Fowler operates a business that inspects, analyzes and reports on homeowner associations..
Fowler - endorsed by the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs and the Colorado Springs Forward public policy group, among others - said he couldn't say for sure why he lost.
Skorman's suggestion that city voters rejected Colorado Springs Forward and other groups was speculative, Fowler said. He added that one possible reason for his defeat and that of others: More people moving in from elsewhere and bringing liberal values with them.
"I'm wondering," Fowler said, "if Colorado Springs is not being absorbed into the rest of the Front Range of Colorado, into a more liberal sensibility because of people who have moved into Colorado Springs from other places."