Nov 4, 2010 12:54 AM by Stephanie Collins

Strong mayor initiative passes, now what?

Voters in Colorado Springs have spoken, and they want city government to change. Issue 300, which creates a strong mayor position, passed Tuesday with nearly 60% of the vote.

Issue 300 changes the city charter, creating that full time mayor position, and changing the structure of city hall. Just a day after it passed, the race for mayor already had five candidates.

The candidates are: Brian Bahr: a real estate professional and owner of challenger homes, Kenneth Paul Duncan: a small businessman and retired army, Buddy Gilmore: also a small businessman and retired air force, Phil Mcdonald: small business owner and previously worked in law enforcement and Dave Munger president of the Council of Neighbors and Organizations.

When the next mayor takes office the position and city government will have changed thanks to the passing of Issue 300, "We are transitioning from the council manager form of government, to the strong mayor form of government," explains city spokesman John Leavitt.

There will now be a full time mayor that acts as a sort of CEO of the city, "The mayor will have lots of power, be able to hire and fire and restructure, create a budget, and will have line item veto powers," adds Leavitt.

Being full time also comes with a better salary; the new mayor will make $96,000/year. Which those who initiated Issue 300 say will open the position to anyone that wants to run, "Right now with the mayor getting a salary of $6,000 a year, that means a small pool of people that can realistically do that, it has to be somebody independently wealthy or has a really flexible job or is retired," says Rachel Beck with The Mayor Project.

Current mayor Lionel Rivera likes the idea of a full time mayor, but thinks some work still needs to be done, "Now that it's passed I think that I can ask city council to put some stuff on the ballot in April to add some strength to the position of mayor and compensate for the things I think were missing."

The current city council has a few steps they have to take before April's election. They have to vote on personnel policies and come up with procedures for a possible runoff election. For a strong mayor to be elected they have to earn over 50 percent of the vote, which will be hard to achieve if more people run, making a run off election very likely.

For more information on the candidates already running, click their names to go to their campaign websites:

Brian Bahr
Kenneth Paul Duncan
Buddy Gilmore
Phil McDonald
Dave Munger

If you would like to run for mayor call, 719-355-CITY (2489), and ask for the city clerk.


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