Colorado Springs City Council candidate Athena Roe once ran for office as a “Catholic, principled, Bobby Kennedy Democrat.”
But she said her views have changed dramatically since 2016, when she fell about 60 signatures short of petitioning her way onto the ballot in Colorado House District 18.
Roe, now one of 11 candidates vying for three at-large City Council seats, said she wants to be the council’s fiscal conservative, pushing for policies that discourage regulation and promote economic freedom. And, she said, she wouldn’t support new taxes.
“To me, it’s all about money. Making sure that you have more of it,” she said. “Making sure that the citizens have more of their money.”
Roe, 56, said friends persuaded her to run just days before the deadline to collect enough signatures. She said she gathered about 119 local voters’ signatures in six hours.
She co-directs the Center for Estate Administration Reform, which helps people who are financially wronged during probate proceedings. Estates often dwindle during these yearslong proceedings as predatory lawyers charge more and more fees, leaving little to nothing for the rightful heirs, she said.
As a councilwoman, she said, she wants to combat “fraud, waste and abuse” in government.
“Our community could use a different approach to running the city,” Roe said.
“Some of the biggest threats to our community are those that we don’t hear of.”
Roe was born and raised in Pueblo, where she grew up a Kennedy-loving Democrat. But after graduating from the Leadership Program of the Rockies last year, she said, she realized that her views were more in line with Republican stances on fiscal responsibility and limited government.
“Let’s stop over-regulating. Let’s become reasonable,” she said. “I just want to make life better and easier for people. I don’t want to burden them with more ordinances and regulation.”
After earning her law degree at the University of Denver, Roe worked as a health care lobbyist. She said she’s a proud owner of a Papillon named Gizmo and and sells handmade pet harnesses decorated with crosses, saints and other Christian figures and emblems.
Roe has been unafraid to share her views, suggesting at a debate at Colorado College on Thursday that instead of collecting taxes to maintain open spaces, the city might consider charging park users a fee.
She’s also said she opposes allowing recreational marijuana sales in Colorado Springs, where they are banned, citing negative effects such as anxiety, paranoia and abnormal brain development.
The city could address its affordable housing shortage by turning to novel building materials such as straw bales, adobe and even shipping containers, she said. “Why can’t we do it here?”
If elected, she hopes to break down regulatory barriers, such as licensing, that make it harder to do business. Cutting red tape also could motivate people to renovate some of the city’s old, dilapidated buildings and bring new life to areas such as southern downtown, she said.
“I always believe, instead of tearing everything down and starting from scratch, that we should try to work with what’s there,” she said.
At-large Councilmen Bill Murray and Tom Strand are seeking re-election. Roe’s other opponents are former Councilman Val Snider, former Secretary of State Wayne Williams, former state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, Dennis Spiker, Regina English, Randy Tuck, Terry Martinez and Tony Gioia.