Right hands raised and eyes on the horizon, Colorado Springs’ mayor and two at-large council members reclaimed their offices Tuesday while a third council member was sworn in for the first time.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s fitting that we meet today in front of one of our community’s most historic buildings,” Mayor John Suthers said from the podium on the south steps of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. “Because those sworn in today will play a significant role in writing the next chapter in the history of Colorado Springs.”
The sun shone on the event, shielded by a thin layer of clouds as a choir sang America the Beautiful before prominent city residents, including city officials, local entrepreneurs and current and former politicians.
Suthers and Councilmen Bill Murray and Tom Strand were joined by freshman Councilman Wayne Williams — Colorado’s former secretary of state — in swearing to uphold the Constitution and act in the best interest of Colorado Springs and its residents.
In the city’s April 2 election, Suthers’ boasted more than 72 percent of the vote, while Williams got more than 18 percent and Murray and Strand each received more than 12 percent in the heavily crowded field of council candidates.
Suthers looked ahead, saying: “We must build the infrastructure needed to accommodate the growth and prosperity that our city enjoys,” with “transformational” projects such as the U.S. Olympic Museum and other City for Champions projects.
But also, he said, “We need to fix our residential streets as well as our arterials. We need to secure greater state investment in highways … We need to ensure the public safety our citizens deserve … and we need to continue to attend to the issues of affordable housing and homelessness.”
The council members offered brief remarks of thanks to their constituents, loved ones and campaign workers. Williams laughed as he noted that he does, in fact, own a necktie.
The event was jovial and brief, finished within the hour.
The newly minted officials then headed into the museum with the crowd to celebrate.
“You couldn’t have ordered a better day,” said Councilwoman Yolanda Avila.
While Williams is the council’s only new member, replacing the term-limited Merv Bennett, the paradigm still could shift, Avila said.
She was elected in 2017 and said she’s now poised to accomplish more for her southeast district.
“The hope is that we still press forward and collaborate with the mayor,” she said, “and that he understands the situation with my district and that we are imperative to the overall greatness of the city.”
Bennett said he felt confident that he was leaving a healthy council primed for successes.
He urged them to leave party politics at the door and act only in the best interest of the city and its residents.
He also praised Suthers, saying, “We’ve had some great leadership in this city, but none have been better than John.”
Councilman Don Knight said the council still can improve its communication, especially among members acting as liaisons to city boards and commissions.
Suthers urged residents to volunteer for a city board, clean a trail or park, mentor a child or support the arts.
“So today, I ask all our citizens to join me in embracing our enduring challenge as citizens of Colorado Springs to continue to build a city that matches our scenery,” he said. “A shining city at the foot of a great mountain.”