On Monday evening, CC’s Young Republicans and Democrats teamed up to sponsor a City Council candidate discussion as part of an ongoing effort to forge bonds between the Council and political groups on the CC campus.
The event featured candidates Brandy Williams, Bob Kinsey, Jim Bensberg and Keith King. The race for the District 3 seat, the district CC is in, is non-partisan. That is, none of the candidates were nominated by or represent political parties.
Kinsey, who joined the race on a platform built around opposing hydraulic fracturing, used his time at the event to withdraw from the race. “I’m realistic enough to know that my campaign hasn’t exactly generated a groundswell or a tidal wave of support and interest,” he said.
The former candidate then endorsed Williams, praising her support of the “solar revolution” and telling the crowd that, with such a close race, she would need the votes that would have gone to him.
Williams, a Colorado Springs At-Large Councilmember and Springs native, started off the discussion. She told the audience that both her dad and grandfather were born and raised in the city, and that her mother was a CC graduate.
First elected in 2011, Williams is the youngest woman to ever sit on the Council. She stressed work she had done with the college, citing her involvement in the creation of a Solar Garden proposed by a CC student.
The Councilmember said that one of her goals is to market Colorado Springs towards college and graduate students.
Bensberg also stressed his Colorado roots, telling the audience, “I am a third generation Coloradan.” A Colorado State University graduate, he sat on the El Paso Board of County Commissioners from 2002 to 2011.
When asked why he was running for City Council, Bensberg replied, “Someone’s gotta do it.” He also referenced his work with former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and CC graduate Ken Salazar, and work in the U.S. Senate and state capitol.
The former County Commissioner went on to voice his opposition to alternative energy, citing his concern for the higher electric rates. He said that residents of Colorado Springs don’t want to see their electric bills go up “just so we can say that we live in a green city.” He explained that although he does not think subsidizing solar energy is a good idea but he is “happy to have that discussion.”
He said that he believes Colorado Springs could become an “amateur sports capital.”
The final speaker was King, a former Colorado State Senator and school board member.
He stressed that he has given back to the community and that this was the impetus for him to run for City Council. King, who also founded a waterbed company, said that he wanted to turn the Springs into an entrepreneurial hub “for people like you,” directing his comment towards the audience.
He also spoke about his belief that the City should stop taxing producers at such high rates, raising the example of Intel, which left Colorado.
Bensberg, like King, argued that high unemployment is one of the most pressing issues facing the Colorado Springs community. He also cited the lack of a federal courthouse and floodwater as pressing concerns facing the City.
“Jobs was the issue two years ago,” replied Williams, “and it will be the issue two years from now.” Another concern of hers is addressing the Waldo Canyon burn scars and the potential destruction that could result from springtime flooding.
The official City Council elections will take place on Tuesday, April 2.