Apr 9, 2021 | NEWS | By Avery Colborn | Photo by Anil Jergens
The Colorado Springs city council general election on April 6 concluded with three new representatives joining the council and three current members remaining in their positions.
The election appointed members from six districts throughout the city, who will join three other at-large representatives, Bill Murray, Wayne Williams, and President Pro-Tempore Tom Strand, to decide on issues affecting Colorado Springs.
In the general election, all candidates ran without a party affiliation. The majority of candidates’ top priorities included affordable housing, COVID-19 responses, public safety, and management of open spaces, reflecting the general concerns of Colorado Springs voters across all six districts.
Elected to represent District 1 with a 48% majority, Dave Donelson will replace former council member Don Knight. The former Army physician assistant and Special Forces Medical Sergeant plans to work with the county commissioners, mayor, and Department of Public Health to combat COVID-19, and “to ensure that all who want to be immunized are immunized as quickly as possible.”
Donelson’s primary focus will be on enhancing public safety, specifically fire and police, as well as maintaining clean air and water and managing city development to preserve the area’s natural beauty and open spaces.
Randy Helms beat out incumbent David Geislinger with 31.7% of the district vote. A self-described “principled driven conservative,” one of Helms’ top priorities is to improve infrastructure by funding roads and bridges projects with the help of the county and the state. Additionally, Helms aims to improve “Public Safety and Community Building” through supporting police.
In regard to his “wholehearted support” for the police force, Helms added, “I do not believe that we can or should tolerate violence, racism or discrimination … my pledge if elected will be to work to ensure that [the Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability] commission becomes part of the solution.”
Helms also supports immediate reopening of business in the city with the incorporation of wearing masks and social distancing. This stance differs from that of former council member Geislinger, who supported maintaining stricter COVID regulations until further notice to reduce spikes in infections.
Incumbent Richard Skorman (CC Class of ’75) was reelected to District 3, and aims to sustainably fund parks, address the affordable housing and homelessness crises, secure water rights and clean waterways, as well as aid small business recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Skorman stated that his biggest concern is the lack of affordable housing in the rapidly growing city. “Our city government and utilities should provide every incentive and opportunity possible to incent the private marketplace and the housing non-profits in our region to build more affordable and attainable housing, particularly for our most vulnerable residents,” he said.
Skorman will continue to serve as Council President for the next four years.
District 4 awarded a 61.5% majority to incumbent Yolanda Avila over opposing candidate Regina English. Avila, who graduated from CC in 1985, supports improving infrastructure and transit throughout the city, as well as bolstering economic development.
Regarding COVID-19, Avila said that city council should “ensure that any barriers to getting vaccines are eliminated” and “look for additional opportunities and resources to help those most impacted by the pandemic — from families to small businesses.”
Out of four other candidates from District 5, Nancy Henjum was chosen to replace former council member Jill Gaebler. Henjum’s top three priorities are “supporting local business, strengthening our neighborhoods, and protecting our parks and open space.”
Mike O’Malley will retain his spot representing District 6 after being temporarily appointed to the position in 2021. Earning a 61.5% majority over opponent Garfield Johnson, O’Malley will prioritize enhancing support for city and utilities leadership in order to manage the rapid growth of the city, as well as maintaining and preserving open spaces throughout Colorado Springs.
The election also included one ballot issue, which would decide if Section 7-90 (c) of the Charter of the City of Colorado Springs should be amended to allow ballot titles for tax or bonded debt increases to exceed 30 words, to which 65.9% of voters responded “Yes.”
Overall, residents from across the six districts supported candidates that are aiming to tackle problems most currently pressing in the city, such as affordable housing, COVID-19 recovery, and management of open spaces amidst increasing development.
The newly elected council members will serve the city for the next four years.