Feb 12, 2021 | OPINION | By Teddy Weiss | Illustration by Bibi Powers
You’ve probably found a safe haven in the “normalcy” of a Joe Biden administration these past few weeks. I’m sure it feels good to evict Trump from the perpetual room he rented in your head. But there’s more work to do, and it starts at the local level.
On April 6, Colorado Springs voters will choose the next batch of city councilors and vote on one ballot measure. I’ll pause on endorsements for now, and just detail what’s at stake.
If we’ve learned anything over the last year, it’s that local government matters: they determine police and fire budgets, oversee homelessness policy, set our parks and open space funding, and help combat climate change by closing Martin Drake Power Plant by 2023.
Colorado Springs will soon usurp Denver as the most populous city in the state. As we deal with unprecedented growth, recover from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, and push Colorado Springs into the 21st century, this election will determine what kind of city Colorado Springs will be. So, who is at the helm?
There are three incumbents running for re-election and three open seats. By 2023, Colorado Springs City Council will have six new faces in their local government.
In District 1, just north of town, City Councilor Don Knight is term-limited, and four challengers are vying for the seat — CC alum and local entrepreneur Glenn Carlson ’06; David Donelson, former Green Beret; Michael Seeger, a firefighter; and Jim Mason, current District 11 School Board member. In a four-way horse race, whoever can muster the most robust campaign could win, while the others split the vote.
In District 2, in the northeast part of town, incumbent David Geislinger is running for re-election. Councilor Geislinger ran unopposed in 2017, and now faces three challengers: Randy Helms, backed by the business community; David Noblitt, a firefighter; and Jay Inman, a retired army officer. Councilor Geislinger will face an uphill battle after never running a campaign in 2017, but he will run on a track record of affordable housing, public safety, and improved infrastructure.
In District 3, CC alum and current City Council President Richard Skorman ’75 faces three opponents. One competitor, Art Glynn, a Booz Hamilton consultant and NORAD contractor, is challenging Councilor Skorman on a number of issues, including the sale of recreational cannabis, which is not permitted in Colorado Springs.
Glynn casts himself as a “visionary leader.” Then, there is 25-year-old Olivia Lupia, who is running against the “establishmentarism” and wants fewer COVID-19 regulations on local businesses. Henry McCall is the fourth challenger, who wants to enact a one-year citywide moratorium on all residential rental rates.
Skorman has high name recognition and significant backing from the community. It will be an uphill fight taking on such deep-rooted support.
In the race for District 4, CC alum and incumbent Yolanda Avila ’85 is running for re-election against District 2 school board member Regina English. Councilor Avila has made a name for herself fighting for her district, which has often been neglected by city leaders. English ran in 2019 for an at-large seat and lost significantly. District 4 is one of two races with only two opponents.
District 5, on the other hand, in the center of town, has five different candidates looking for term-limited Jill Gaebler’s seat. Challenger Nancy Henjum has raised the greatest amount of money, but is flanked by Justin Hermes — who is self-funding his campaign — Matt Zelenok, Karlie Van Arnam, and Mary Fabian. A candidate could win with less than a quarter of the votes, so whoever builds the strongest campaign can easily sneak by with a small majority.
In District 6, Mike O’Malley, a newcomer to town, was appointed in January to fill the seat of former Councilor Andy Pico and is running for all four years this time. Garfield Johnson, a former Olympic judo contender and veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan is running to the right of O’Malley on conservative values.
I’m glad your political mind took a couple weeks’ sojourn, but it’s time to get to work. Ballots are dropping in mid-March, but there’s plenty of time to get involved and fight for the future of Colorado Springs. Here’s more information on the upcoming race.
Teddy Weiss serves as campaign manager for Richard Skorman and previously served as Director of Communications for Together for Colorado Springs, a non-profit dedicated to finding common sense solutions in the Pikes Peak region.