City council meeting (copy)

Screen shot from the Colorado Springs City Council meeting in August.

Colorado Springs has a city government with an earned reputation for excellent public service. To keep it that way, voters must continue choosing high-quality individuals to serve on the City Council. In general, The Gazette’s editorial board favors candidates who oppose the legalization of recreational drugs, support better transportation infrastructure, support public safety and oppose defunding law enforcement, support excellent wages and benefits for city employees while opposing unionization, support the military, and support a competitive free-market economy.

Ballots arrived throughout Colorado Springs for an April 6 election that will choose six members of the nine-member council. The Gazette’s editorial board offers the following endorsements as a contribution to the due diligence voters should conduct before casting votes.

District 1

 Dave Donelson

A former Army Green Beret and retired physician’s assistant, Donelson emphasizes public safety, law enforcement, transportation infrastructure, parks, trails and open space. He appears to have no agenda other than preserving and enhancing the quality of life for people who live in Colorado Springs.

“We need to keep Colorado Springs the family-friendly, vibrant, beautiful city it has been for the 30 years my family and I have lived here,” he says.

He will fight to keep recreational marijuana sales out of Colorado Springs, and we’re quite confident he won’t try to “defund the police.”

Donelson has endorsements from five El Paso County commissioners.

District 2

 Randy Helms

When voters elected District 2 Councilman David Geislinger in 2017, the media held him up as an example of Colorado Springs drifting politically left.

“At the last minute, Dave’s opponent dropped out, leaving the field open to add this relatively progressive Christian voice to the council,” reported The Hightower Lowdown, the newsletter of progressive icon Jim Hightower.

Colorado Public Radio reported “left-leaning David Geislinger” was elected after an unopposed campaign, in a story titled “A new progressive era for Colorado Springs?”

It’s not Geislinger’s left-wing “social justice” agenda that has us concerned. It is, rather, his both-ways approach to leadership. One never knows what Geislinger might do, because he so frequently changes his mind.

When he and other council members voted to replace outgoing Councilman Andres Pico, who was elected to the state Legislature, Geislinger supported the far-left former U.S. Senate candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding. Spaulding fully favors the socialist Green New Deal, imaginable gun control, income equality, and more. Though Geislinger voted for Spaulding, he changed his mind and voted for O’Malley in a tie-breaker vote.

Geislinger likewise changed his position midmeeting on the controversial Hitch Rack Ranch quarry proposal. He tentatively and hesitantly opposes recreational marijuana sales but says he might change his mind if someone convinces him it would generate big money for the city government.

Helms, an Air Force Academy graduate and decorated veteran, will never vote for recreational pot. He will not advocate social justice policies based on pie-in-the-sky promises to control the climate or create income equality. With Helms, voters will get a man who advocates for proven policies that boost the economy, improve transportation, help the homeless, address the lack of housing stock and improve public safety.

District 3

 Arthur Glynn

The chances of turnover in the District 3 race are low. Councilman, businessman, and former mayoral nominee Richard Skorman is likely to win easy reelection. Skorman is well-known and respected in Colorado Springs for a variety of good reasons.

Skorman loves his community and serves with passion. Unfortunately, he is too often on the wrong side of important issues.

He supported the passage of a recent ballot measure that will tie the hands of city officials trying to make decisions about time-sensitive public property transactions. As a result, the city will have less ability to obtain for the public the finest land for trails, parks and open space.

Skorman supports a ballot measure to legalize commercialized, recreational marijuana — a move that would make Colorado Springs less attractive to military leadership, families and businesses. He recently spoke approvingly of hallucinogenic mushrooms when a small group of activists asked the City Council to consider decriminalizing the drug — a schedule 1 substance on the federal government’s Controlled Substances Act.

Glynn has nothing approaching the long-earned name recognition of Skorman, so his campaign is a steep uphill trudge at best. But if Colorado Springs wants to resist recreational drugs and expensive efforts to control the climate, voters will give Glynn a chance. His first order of business: oppose recreational pot.

“Have you driven through the pot capital of the nation up north?” Glynn asks on his campaign website. “Let’s keep Colorado Springs wholesome, safe and clean.”

Glynn emphasizes keeping Space Command, “attainable housing” policies, fire mitigation and water conservation, economic growth, and “energy security” established by policies that protect all forms of safe energy.

District 4

 Regina English

District 4 needs a council leader who can lead an economic transformation waiting to break free. Councilwoman Yolanda Avila has not led the mission, so it is time to go with someone else.

Avila has a counterproductive approach to advocating for her district by voting against what might help another district. She voted against the expansion of The Broadmoor, to facilitate the expansion of the Space Symposium because the resort is not in her district. She voted against a new visitors center for the Air Force Academy because it isn’t in her district.

Meanwhile, we have not seen successful or otherwise impressive efforts to land new businesses, jobs, and economic development in her district.

Avila supported putting recreational marijuana on the ballot. English also thinks voters should decide, but she opposes the drug.

“That’s just one bandwagon I’m not going to jump on,” English told The Gazette’s news department.

English would not favor marijuana sales as a source of city revenue, saying it would compromise her values. She would fight for cleaner, better-lit neighborhoods to enhance public safety.

District 4 needs a leader who can quickly unleash the area’s looming success. Voters have nothing to lose by electing English.

District 5

 Mary Elizabeth Fabian

A wife, mother, and small-business owner, Fabian has the endorsement of all five El Paso County commissioners. In a cluster of five candidates vying for the seat, Fabian stands out as a genuine center-right conservative with a solid grasp of the city government’s appropriate role.

Like any good prospect for the City Council, Fabian prioritizes economic stability and growth, public safety and the need to improve transportation infrastructure.

Fabian opposes legalizing recreational marijuana, and any ballot measure advocating it, and says our “long-term economic health and growth is too important” to risk with more drugs. She pledges to oppose efforts to unionize city employees.

District 6

 Mike O’Malley

Council members appointed O’Malley by a 6-2 vote in January. The U.S. transportation adviser replaced outgoing Councilman Andres Pico, who was elected to the Legislature as a Republican.

O’Malley had the support of Pico, who had proven himself among the strongest members of a council of nine.

“We are finishing out Andy’s time on council by appointing someone very similar to him,” Councilwoman Jill Gaebler said at the time of O’Malley’s appointment.

That’s high praise. In his short term on the council, O’Malley has lived up to expectations. Other council members speak highly of him and say he works as a team player. Voters will be wise to keep O’Malley in office.

The Gazette Editorial Board

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