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Voting postmortem: 13 winners and losers in the Colorado Springs 2017 election

By: gazette staff Gazette.com
November 8, 2017 Updated: November 9, 2017 at 6:19 am
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Caption +
Dr. Nicholas Gledich, the superintendent of District 11, left, takes a photo of the countdown screen as Lauren Hugm right countdown from five before the results were to be posted as candidates and others celebrate the passing of 3E on the voting ballot at SoccerHaus on Tuesday November 7, 2017 in Colorado Springs. Voters who approved the 3E ballot measures to significantly increase funding for K-12 schools in the D-11 schools. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

Tuesday's election produced both winners and losers on the Colorado Springs political landscape:

Winners:

Mayor John Suthers - The first-term mayor and longtime Republican officeholder persuaded voters to back a new stormwater fee that will raise $17 million a year to replace general fund spending on stormwater projects. The general fund monies can now be redirected to public safety needs and ammunition to settle a lawsuit brought by the Environmental Protection Agency and others.

District 11 Superintendent Nicholas Gledich - Voters backed a $32 million property tax increase, the first for the city's largest school district in 17 years, that will be spent repairing and refurbishing school buildings, reducing class sizes by hiring more teachers, adding more security officers, improving technology, increasing staff salaries, hiring more mental health workers and making other improvements.

City Council President Richard Skorman - After losing to former Mayor Steve Bach in 2011, the downtown retailer won a council seat, was elected council president, helped Suthers get the stormwater question on the ballot and campaigned for the fee.

Police Chief Pete Carey and Fire Chief Ted Collas - After dissolving specialized units to fight gangs and other high-profile crimes, CSPD now gets more cops and new squad cars to help an understaffed department answer priority calls more quickly.

Public Works Director Travis Easton - Stormwater projects now have a dedicated revenue stream and don't depend on starving the rest of the city budget to address infrastructure problems.

County Commissioner Mark Waller - The first-term commissioner came up with revenue-retention measure and is the only one who marketed it. Waller, more than any other local official, has led the effort to widen Interstate 25.

Losers:

Anti-tax activist and Taxpayer Bill of Rights author Douglas Bruce and former City Councilwoman Helen Collins - Both campaigned against the stormwater fee and District 11 tax hike; a majority of voters rejected their arguments. Bruce, who couldn't even vote on either issue due to his tax-evasion conviction, argued the fee represented a bait-and-switch tactic.

City Councilman Bill Murray - Called Suthers' argument for the stormwater fee "extortion," a criminal term that voters clearly didn't buy. His outsider, maverick image never generated the type of popular support that Donald Trump used to win the presidency.

City Councilmen Don Knight and Andy Pico - Both voted against putting the stormwater fee on the ballot, which opponents emphasized every time they got a chance. Both said the city could afford to continue to pay for stormwater projects out of its general fund.

Manitou Springs Mayor Nicole Nicoletta - The first-term mayor lost by a nearly 2-to-1 margin to retired attorney Ken Jaray and voters rejected the plan she supported to build a firefighting training center in Manitou by more than a 3-to-1 margin.

Conservative activist Laura Carno - Also campaigned unsuccessfully against the stormwater fee, getting campaign money from the billionaire Koch brothers-financed Americans for Prosperity.

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