Colorado Springs mayoral candidates spar over pot, potholes

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John Suthers and Mary Lou Makepeace Colorado Springs mayoral debate
Colorado Springs mayoral candidates John Suthers and Mary Lou Makepeace before the start of a debate sponsored by KKTV and The Gazette on April 27, 2015.

Pot and potholes are on the minds of voters in Colorado Springs as they choose a new mayor in a runoff election on May 19.

The runoff election was triggered when none of the six candidates received more than 50 percent of the vote in the April 7 election. Now the voters will choose between Former Attorney General John Suthers, who received 46 percent of the vote, and Former Colorado Springs Mayor Makepeace, who got 24 percent of the vote.

"The main issue is that this city is riddled with potholes, and people who live here are extremely upset about it," said Billie Stanton Anleu, a Colorado Springs Gazette reporter covering the election.

Both candidates have pledged to get a ballot initiative before voters to fix the roads. But they disagree over whether Colorado Springs should allow recreational marijuana sales.

Makepeace says allowing those sales would allow the city to regulate the drug and ensure it doesn't contain anything bad. She also is trying to rally voters behind the slogan, "pot for potholes," saying she'll use revenue from marijuana sales for road repairs.

Suthers says if voters approve recreational pot sales he'll implement them, putting his personal feelings aside as he did with Amendment 64 when he was attorney general.

Anleu adds the new mayor will face some big challenges.

"Colorado Springs is a beautiful city," she said. "But its infrastructure at this moment is deplorable. And that’s what the new mayor will inherit."

The next mayor takes office June 2. Current mayor Steve Bach pledged to serve only one term and did not seek reelection.