The field of candidates for Colorado Springs mayor and three at-large City Council seats in the April municipal election is getting crowded quickly.
At least eight prospective candidates for the offices collected nominating petitions from City Clerk Sarah Johnson on Wednesday morning, the first step in launching their campaigns.
The positions are nonpartisan, Johnson reminded the candidates.
“You are running as a person,” Johnson said. “You are not running as the member of a party. Democrat, Republican or Polka Dot Party. None of that matters.”
To qualify for the ballot, potential candidates must collect 100 valid signatures of Colorado Springs voters. She also outlined the city’s laws regarding campaign finance, political advertisements and more.
The race for mayor could feature a rematch between incumbent John Suthers and Lawrence Martinez, who said he plans to run again. The two faced each other four years ago, along with four other candidates. Suthers, the state’s former attorney general, won after a runoff against former mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.
Martinez said his campaign slogan this time around would be “I exist, therefore I count.”
Martinez has worked as a hospice home care specialist and as a business consultant and frequently attends City Council meetings to voice his opinions and suggestions.
Another hopeful in the mayoral race is Juliette Parker, who operates a nonprofit MENDA, Meaningful Empowerment through New Development and Art, which aims to end “the homeless crisis.”
Parker has promoted tiny home villages as a way of housing homeless veterans and said Wednesday that the city’s homeless problem and affordable housing shortage are two of her campaign priorities.
At-large incumbents Bill Murray and Tom Strand plan to seek another term, while the third, Merv Bennett, is term-limited.
At least four other candidates are seeking a spot on the council: Army veteran and former county planning commissioner Tony Gioia; conservative firebrand and former state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt; former Will Rogers Elementary School principal Terry Martinez; and Air Force veteran and former at-large councilman Val Snider.
Another, John Pitchford, who said he is an Army veteran and retired doctor, said he is considering a run for the council.
Outgoing Secretary of State Wayne Williams previously said he is considering a bid for a seat on the council.
For those thinking of running for mayor, city Chief of Staff Jeff Greene said, “It’s not a glamorous job. It is a time consuming position.”
Among other things, the mayor oversees the city’s police and fire departments, airport and parking enterprises, every contract the city enters into and the annual budget, Greene said.
Council President Richard Skorman told potential candidates the council’s responsibilities include city codes, ordinances, referring issues to the ballot and land use issues.
With an annual stipend of just $6,250, council members aren’t in it for the money, he acknowledged, adding the public service and making a difference make the hassle worthwhile.
Skorman said a seat on the council is a full time commitment.
“It’s not an accident that all but two of us are retired,” he said. “It’s a more-than-40-hours-a-week job, unless you want to make it less and not be as conscientious of a council member.”
Candidates have until Jan. 22 to collect enough signatures.