In about a month, as residents of the third district of Colorado Springs, Colorado College students get to vote again. The April 4 municipal election will determine who will be the District 3 City Council representatives for the next four years. City Council elections are often close and unpredictable, sometimes decided by only a few hundred votes. As a voting bloc of over two thousand, the Colorado College vote could make a significant difference. I plan to vote for Richard Skorman over the candidate Chuck Fowler. Here is why:
Skorman has dedicated much of his life to public service and has vast experience with Colorado Springs municipal government. He served two terms on the City Council in the early 2000s and was vice mayor for two years between 2003 and 2005. Skorman also has an inspired vision for the City’s parks and open spaces. Lamenting the loss of various open spaces to development and the overcrowding of remaining ones, he has outlined a plan for a series of greenways that would connect various open spaces, as well as one that would go all the way from Colorado Springs to Pueblo. These, he says, will create opportunities for more outdoor recreation, ease the stress of overcrowding in the City’s current open spaces, and attract young people to the city.
While both candidates believe that the Martin Drake coal-fired power plant in downtown Colorado Springs is an eyesore that should close, Skorman advocates a proactive approach to closing the plant, whereas Fowler would prefer to let it die a natural death. In an interview with Catalyst reporter Ethan Greenberg, Fowler said, “I think that forces, market forces [will close the plant].” Skorman has innovative ideas for how to continue to use the Martin Drake infrastructure productively after it closes. He told Greenberg: “We have 23 coal trains a day that go through downtown Colorado Springs, and if we lost our customer for coal, which is Drake, we could route all that freight outside and we could have a Front Range passenger rail.” Around the area of Drake, Skorman wants to build “affordable housing and an arts district.”
As the owner of Poor Richard’s, Skorman is acutely aware of the homelessness prob-
lem and has many ideas on how to ameliorate it. He would use his platform on the city council to help non-profits, churches, and government agencies coordinate their services for the homeless in Colorado Springs, making helping the homeless easier and more efficient. He also wants to convince the Salvation Army shelter to be more accepting of homeless people with various health issues. As he put it, “All you have to do is sneeze the wrong way and you are banned from the shelter.”
Skorman believes Colorado Springs should legalize the sale of marijuana. He believes that the revenue from marijuana sales taxes could be hugely important for the cash-strapped city. He also thinks that opening up sales here would reduce high driving, as Colorado Springs residents wouldn’t have to drive to Manitou Springsto purchase marijuana. Fowler, on the other hand, is skeptical. In the same interview with Ethan Greenberg, Fowler said he’s “not a fan right now of recreational pot; probably never will be.”
Skorman’s community-centric plans for Colorado Springs make him an attractive candidate, especially for Colorado College students, who often lament the perceived lack of infrastructure in the city. If Skorman manages to revamp the economy and change the zoning around Martin Drake, there will be booming job and housing markets, things which are great for both recent graduates and broke college students.
Skorman wants to make Colorado Springs not just a place students go to college but a place where you put down roots. The ballots for the election will be mailed out the week of March 10 and must be returned by April 4. I hope you will join me in exercising your right to vote by supporting Richard Skorman for District 3 City Council.