Springs Community Members Start Push for Strong-Mayor City Government

A group called Citizens for Accountable Leadership is proposing changing Colorado Springs' form of city government. They want to move from the current Council - Manager system to a Strong Mayor form.

The group is co-chaired by Andy McElhany, Mary Ellen McNally and Chuck Murphy. McElhany is a former State Senate Minority Leader, McNally is a former a D-11 School Board member and City Council Member. Chuck Murphy is a long-time businessman in our city.

The group aims to change the current bureaucratic system of government and institute a more effective structure where the mayor acts as chief executive of the city.

McElhany says it's all about accountability. "Currently, the mayor is only one person, one of nine on city council. So he's only one vote on city council and he doesn't have any real authority to get things done," said McElhany, "We think that that needs to be changed. If we replace the city manager with an accountable mayor that is responsible to the voters, that would be a much more effective form of city government."

The group says a lot of the details still need to be worked out, and they'll be holding several meetings in the spring to get community input on exactly how the transition and Strong Mayor system would work for the city. Details on exact public meetings have not yet been released.

Once input is taken, the group says they will oversee the creation of a ballot initiative that will fit the values and needs of the city. The group says the ballot initiative will change the city charter to increase responsibility for the mayor, boost transparency in city government and produce a clear system of checks and balances.

The group says many of the 50 largest cities in the nation have a “Strong-Mayor” form of government, which gives the mayor a relatively high level of authority and political independence.

“There’s an old saying, ‘If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,’” said McElhany. “I agree with that sentiment. But in this instance, our system of government at City Hall is clearly broken. It is time for this community to elect its chief executive through the democratic process.”