Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray says he will not seek reelection to a second term this fall, in part, because of health issues exacerbated by the stress of the job.
“As part of this journey I have clearly learned that stress can have a very negative influence on one’s health,” the mayor wrote in a Tuesday night Facebook post. “With all that has gone on over the past 18 months, I have come to the conclusion that it would be best for me to step aside and let others help guide the city.”
The seats of at-large City Council members Gary Smith, Becky Elder, and Jay Rohrer are also up for grabs in the upcoming election.
Smith is term-limited.
Elder said Wednesday that she does not intend to run again.
Rohrer could not be reached for comment.
Jaray said he knows of others who are interested in running for mayor but declined to name them. Nomination petitions won’t be available until August, he said.
His decision not to run comes as relations on the council have become strained as a search for a city administrator nears the 18-month mark. Jaray criticized several fellow council members for not following proper procedures when they voted to offer the job to Councilman Bob Todd. Jaray argued that appointing Todd to the job would be a conflict of interest because Todd was part of discussions about the job description.
At last week’s council meeting, Todd turned down the offer, but denied accepting it would have been unethical and accused the mayor’s office of causing “unnecessary discord and confusion within our city and beyond.”
The council plans to review resumes from other applicants and narrow a list of candidates at a meeting next week, Jaray said. At least one member of the city’s staff has expressed interest in the job, he told The Gazette.
When Jaray unseated past Mayor Nicole Nicoletta in 2017, supporters hailed his election as a fresh start after a fractious two years.
Months into his tenure, he and other city officials began negotiating a controversial 50-year tax incentive deal with the Pikes Peak Cog Railway that the attraction’s owners said was needed to complete a roughly $100 million reconstruction of the aging railway.
Oklahoma Publishing, which owns the Cog, and Clarity Media, which owns The Gazette, are both subsidiaries of Denver-based Anschutz Corp.
Jaray, a vocal proponent of the Cog deal, was later criticized for not gathering enough community input before the council passed an initial version of the deal last June. Facing public pressure to reconsider the deal’s long-term effects on town finances, the council passed a revised agreement last fall.
During his final few months in office, Jaray plans to focus on instituting more sustainability oriented and environmentally friendly city policies, he said.
After leaving office, he’ll continue as a community activist, he said.
“The positive feedback is just very heartwarming, and I’m touched by all of the support that I’m receiving from the community,” Jaray said.