We have dedicated the last week and a half to the Colorado Springs mayoral candidates. Initially there were nine residents hoping to get elected as the "strong mayor" of the city, but that field has slimmed down to just seven.
Richard Skorman was the first to be on our 4 p.m. newscast.
Skorman told 11 News Anchor Shannon Brinias he would support domestic partner benefits, if elected to the position.
Skorman also said he wants to find a way to fund city services that have been shortchanged in recent years. Skorman said he would not come out against any new taxes, saying he will decide on a case-by-case basis.
Mayoral candidate Phil McDonald was also a guest on the show but dropped out of the race just a few days later, saying he will leave the race for mayor of Colorado Springs. McDonald said he sees a lot of confusion among voters when it comes to all the various candidates, and that he doesn't want to create a situation in which similar candidates split votes. McDonald has endorsed Steve Bach for Mayor.
Buddy Gilmore was in our studio the following day to talk to Don Ward about how his experience running his own multi-million dollar defense contracting company gives him the know-how he needs to run the city. Gilmore says he's dealt with the complex issue of budgeting and he wants to restore the city's reputation.
The 20-year Air Force veteran says the Mayor needs to provide citizens with information on what various city departments should accomplish and what it would take budget-wise to meet those goals. He also believes that many of the hundreds of city positions not currently filled should be left that way.
Up next we had Kenneth Duncan at 11 News. He told Don Ward that he'd save the city money from day one by working for $75,000 a year instead of the $96,000 the job is slated to pay. While his background in customer service doesn't give him experience in running a city, he said he considers himself the candidate of the people. He said the job is a "people-person" position.
The Colorado native also said he favors putting a cap on city salaries, though he won't cut wages or positions. He said every city department should be able to cut its budget by 2 percent.
Mayoral candidate Mitch Christiansen also talked with 11 News about his mayoral campaign, however he has since withdrawn from the election. Christiansen said he entered the race becase he was tried of sitting on the sidelines and seeing elected officials push their personal agendas on the city. Christiansens says instead of splitting the vote even further, he would rather support Steve Bach.
When candidate Steve Bach came onto KKTV 11 News, he told Don Ward that the city is not business-friendly right now. He said there are too many regulations and it takes too long to get permits for existing companies to grow, and for new companies to move here.
The US Army veteran and UCCS graduate said every single dollar spent by the city needs to be used more efficiently. Bach also said his years of experience in economic development and commercial real estate give him insight on how to retain businesses and attract new businesses to Colorado Springs. He said he has experience running a business that will help him run the city.
The following day, candidate Brian Bahr told Betty Sexton he's a small businessman who wants to make our city more friendly to businesses looking to relocate here. He would like to see changes that make it easier for businesses to get the necessary permits and approvals.
He does not want to increase taxes, saying he believes the city needs to make do with its current revenue and live by a balanced budget.
He also believes in zero based budgeting where each department must justify its spending and explain why it deserves continued funding.
Candidate Tom Munger was on 11 News at 4 on March 15. He told Don Ward that the city needs involvement from its citizens on important decisions which impact them. He also said budget goals need to be set and then met, with a clear spending strategy in place. He also said the city's top line needs to be improved by creating more good jobs, and that Colorado Springs leaders should compare the city to others of a similar size to help with decisions on services.
Munger added that his experience leading others in the Air Force, and later in his own company has prepared him better than other candidates to run the city as a strong mayor.
Following an initial scheduling issue within his campaign, Tom Gallagher became the final candidate to appear in studio on Wednesday, March 16th. He talked about his qualifications for Mayor, describing himself as the lone wolf on the Colorado Springs City Council. He was elected to an at-large position in 2003 and re-elected in 2007.
Gallagher says he disagrees with the way the city is being managed and is often the one voice voting against issues. He wants to make the city more user-friendly and hopes to attract manufacturing companies to the Springs.
He believes Colorado Springs is a great place to live and work, but says he sees a lot of depressed people. He wants them to feel good again about the place they live. He says he would also fight to change the current climate, making it easier to do business with the city.
Citizens voted in favor of the strong mayor government, which will eliminate the city manager position, and give the mayor much more power than the current mayor has.