WATCH: Pueblo Mayoral Debate

PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - It started with 16 candidates. November's election narrowed that down to two. On Jan. 22, Puebloans will decide between the last two men standing in the mayoral race.

This election will choose Pueblo's first mayor in 50 years. The five-year term runs through Jan. 16, 2024.

But before the Jan. 22 runoff, candidates Nick Gradisar and Steve Nawrocki squared off in a debate on Jan. 4 on KKTV. Watch the debate below. Scroll down in the article for more information on each candidate and details on voting.


Bios for each candidate are below. The answers were provided by the candidates themselves. They are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot.

NICK GRADISAR
Click here to visit Gradisar's website.
Click here to visit Gradisar's campaign Facebook page

Age: 69

Hometown: Pueblo

How long have you lived in Pueblo: 64 years

Education:
-BS in Social Science, Southern Colorado State College,1971
-Juris Doctor, Drake University, 1976

Current job: Partner, Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth, Attorneys at Law

Volunteer work: Board Member Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, Board Member Action 22

Political experience: I have been a member of the independently elected Pueblo Board of Water Works for 14 years. I have organized many issue campaigns in Pueblo and worked on many campaigns for candidates for public office.

Why did you decide to run for mayor?
I was a strong proponent of changing to a strong mayor system in Pueblo and I am committed to seeing the change succeed. I love my hometown, want to see it thrive and prosper and believe that I have the skills to help it do so.

What prior leadership experience do you have that makes you qualified to be the next mayor?
I have served as president of the Board of Water Works for six years, I was the chairman of the board of directors of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce and for Action 22. In each of these leadership positions I was able to help the organizations move forward by developing consensus and encouraging collaboration.

What do you think is the biggest issue Pueblo is facing right now and how do you plan on addressing the problem?
The biggest problem facing Pueblo is the lack of economic activity. In the last 60 years, the population of Colorado has tripled and Pueblo has grown about ten percent. We must increase our economic activity and make it easier to do business in Pueblo.

What is your favorite thing about Pueblo? Our diversity and tolerance. Immigrants came to Pueblo from all over the world to make steel and build the American west. That diversity and our tolerance for different cultures makes Pueblo a special place.

STEVE NAWROCKI
Click here to visit Nawrocki's website.
Click here to visit Nawrocki's campaign Facebook page.
Click here to visit Nawrocki's campaign Twitter page

Age: 73

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

How long have you lived in Pueblo: I came to Pueblo in January of 1968 to complete my bachelor’s degree at what is now CSU-Pueblo. I have made Pueblo my home since then, except for 1971-1975 when I moved to Oklahoma to complete a master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma.

Education:
-B.S. – Southern Colorado State College (presently CSU-Pueblo)
-Master’s in Education – University of Oklahoma

Current job: CEO of the Senior Resource Development Agency for 31 years

Volunteer work: My entire career has been spent running non-profit corporations and in service to my community. Specifically worth mentioning are:
•Domestic Peace Corp – VISTA Volunteers, 1966, 1967, 1968 – assigned to the barrios of South Texas (San Antonio to Laredo)
•Rotarian – Rotary 43, Pueblo
•Meals on Wheels
•Colorado State Fair Parade
•Old Historic Northside neighborhood association

Political experience:
Elected to an at-large position on City Council in 2009, re-elected in 2013, unanimously elected by Council peers to serve as President 5 times in my 8 years on Council.

Why did you decide to run for mayor?
After having worked for over 30 years in three different non-profit corporations, I see a way to make change through the development of good public policy. I love this community. I’m just as enthusiastic about Pueblo as I was when I moved here 50 years ago.

What prior leadership experience do you have that makes you qualified to be the next mayor?
•I’m the most qualified candidate, as evidenced by my 30+ year career leading a multi-million-dollar non-profit corporation with over 100 staff that serves Pueblo, southern and southeastern Colorado. We have had perfect financial audits every year.
•I have a clear history of bringing together people who have competing agendas and supporting them to develop WIN-WIN outcomes. I am a leader who understands that when the right combination of people contributes, we all win.
•I have strong existing relationships with our federal delegation, key state electeds, and our County Commissioners. My candidacy has been endorsed by 6 members of our City Council. I am also proud of my relationships with local media, no small feat as Pueblo competes in the larger Colorado Springs media market.
•The stakes couldn’t be higher as we move to an elected mayor and I am a trusted public servant who has demonstrated the highest level of integrity and accountability by ALWAYS adhering to both legal and ethical behavior.

What is your favorite thing about Pueblo?
Quality of life – big city amenities in a small-town environment where those born here still outnumber transplants, contrary to places north of us. And I really like Taffy’s.

2019 Pueblo Mayoral Run-Off Election quick facts:
-Ballots will be mailed to voters beginning Monday, December 31, 2018.

-Monday, January 14, 2019 is the last day to register or change your registration and still receive a ballot in the mail. If you register or change your registration after this date, you must go to a Voter Service and Polling Center (VSPC) to vote.

-In-person voting will be available at the VSPC beginning Monday, January 7, 2019.

-Vote Early. Once you’ve completed voting your mail ballot, return it through the United States Postal Service or in-person at one of our drop-off locations. Drop off locations will be available Monday, December 31, 2018. Voting early helps reduce campaign phone calls for you and helps the County by being able to process ballots throughout the election period, not just on one night (however, no votes are tabulated before election night at 7:00 p.m.)

-Traveling? If you need your ballot sent to a location other than your voter registration address, then you must change your mailing (not residential) address as soon as possible. The last day to request a change of mailing address is Monday, January 14, 2019 to receive a ballot in the mail. Remember to update your mailing address after the election.

-Colorado does NOT have a registration deadline. You can register and vote up to and including Election Day.

-Tuesday, January 22, 2019 is the last day to vote. You must return your mail ballot or be in line at a VSPC by 7:00 p.m. to cast your vote.

Click here for locations and hours.