Colorado Springs City Council Election 2021, District 1: Jim Mason, Michael Seeger, Glenn Carlson And Dave Donelson On The Issues

This April, all six Colorado Springs City Council districts are up for election. District 1 can be loosely described as the northwest part of town. It borders the Air Force Academy and Pike National Forest, with Fillmore Street on its Southern border. 

Four people are running to represent District 1. KRCC used social media to solicit questions from the public to see what issues are important to voters. We then used those responses to create a survey, which was sent to all candidates. Their answers as submitted are here.

Ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6, either by mail or through the use of a ballot drop-off box. If returning by mail, the City Clerk recommends mailing the ballot at least nine days in advance of election day. Proper postage is required.

The candidates appear here in the order they are set on the ballot.

Candidate Elevator Pitch

Jim Mason: I am running for City Council, District 1 because I want to assist in shaping Colorado Springs’ future and to continue the successful and forward-thinking work that has led to significant improvements with infrastructure and the restoration of Downtown. I promise to serve with competence, respect, and relentless energy in deciding the best courses of action in support of the continued security and prosperity of Colorado Springs and its residents. For over 15 years, I have served at the grassroots level in volunteer roles including Director, Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education and as a Commissioner with the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority Board. Through this experience, I understand the challenges and opportunities confronting District 1 and Colorado Springs.

Michael Seeger: I am determined and dedicated in all that I do. I feel that I offer a unique perspective through being a Colorado Springs native, firefighter/paramedic and providing a younger view. I have decided to run so that I can be a major voice of our community. I feel that the voice of citizens is not often heard or sought out and I intend to lead through listening to the community and allowing my constituents to guide my decisions.

Glenn Carlson: As a native, parks advocate, and business owner, I believe City Council needs my unique experience and energy to better our city.

Dave Donelson: I am running for city council to represent the citizens, families and businesses of District 1. I will bring the leadership of and Army officer, the problem solving of a Green Beret and the business experience of a Clinic Director to Colorado Springs City Council.

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What purpose does city government serve for its citizens?

Jim Mason: I am a traditionalist, I think the primary role is to maintain city facilities, such as parks, roadways, and public venues. Additionally, ensure effective zoning and building regulations, promote economic development, and provide law enforcement, public transportation, and fire protection. All of this in efforts of enhancing and sustaining Citizens' overall quality of life.

Michael Seeger: I believe that the city government was meant to seek out the needs and wants of the community and to use their position to create a community that the citizens desire and dream of. It is up to council members to listen and implement the needs of the community and remember why they have taken this position.

Glenn Carlson: I believe the city has many basic responsibilities such as building and maintaining infrastructure, public safety, managing our utility, providing public transportation, and enabling outdoor recreation through our parks system. I also believe the city plays a major role in promoting a positive economic environment, regulating towards safe living conditions, and promoting responsible growth.

Dave Donelson: City government performs tasks which its citizens have delegated to it. Public Safety and building and maintaining infrastructure are two of the most fundamental purposes.

What are your Top 3 priorities?

Jim Mason:

  1. First and foremost, I will commit and dedicate my energy and experience in representing the People of District 1. I will do so in a competent and empathetic manner while ensuring Colorado Springs remains a safe and secure city with state-of-the-art infrastructure and Services. Moreover, in addition to this basic function of representative and legislative service, I will work diligently in continuing current momentum and progress regarding existing infrastructure enhancements and new projects.
  2. I will work with colleagues and City Leaders to begin renewed efforts for an enhance and equitable public transportation system in terms of availability and transit timeliness throughout the City. An accessible Public transportation system is a crucial component of a state-of-the-art capital infrastructure design that includes roads, bridges, stormwater mitigation refinements, Public transportation expansion (light rail, ride share support mechanisms, buses and an integrated command and control communications network).
  3. Assist in fostering further partnerships and employment/internships opportunities among High Schools and businesses...both small and large. Specifically, I will work to bring enhanced awareness regarding the importance of our Public educational institutions and their Students to the success of the city's growth and economic prosperity.

Michael Seeger: Infrastructure and construction are at the top of my list. I want to make sure that we utilize construction that allows for efficient infrastructure to accommodate for a growing community. I will accomplish this by seeking to further understand the current practices and ideas that we are implementing and make sure that thet are inline with what is most beneficial for our community.

One of my next priorities will be to implement more affordable housing. I intend to do this by creating incentives for developers and allowing them the space necessary, in the proper parts of town, to create housing that works for our community. I want to make sure the infrastructure is created to anticipate exponential growth. I believe that it would be important to set goals with developers as to the affordability of this housing and make sure that we are doing a great service to those in need.

My next priority will be to assure a smooth transition towards renewable sources of energy. I intend to do this by working very closely with the executives at Colorado Springs Utilities to make sure that we are constantly analysing the technology that exists and purchasing the technology when the time is right. I want to create this energy production so that it can expand as our city continues to grow. I want to make sure that we are being as resourceful as possible so that we can continue to stay ahead of this energy curve that the nation is embarking on.

Glenn Carlson:

  1. As a business owner, I have experience desperately needed on council to address the needs of business, especially through this pandemic. I will be a champion for safely reopening our businesses.
  2. As a board member on the Trails and Open Space Coalition, I have advocated for our parks, trails, and open spaces for many years. COS desperately needs to figure out long-term stable parks funding. This is something I will work towards very quickly.
  3. I want to ensure we are growing responsibly by working on projects like ReToolCos to adjust our outdated zoning regulations, working with developers to ensure responsible development, and working with neighborhoods to hear their voices on developments that impact them.

Dave Donelson:

  1. Public safety is the first priority of city government. Without it any community would be a dangerous place for a family or business - and infrastructure, small business, and trails and open spaces will fail. To accomplish this we can't take our eye off the ball and forget that public safety is the first priority of city government.
  2. Infrastructure - After public safety infrastructure is the next responsibility of city government. Families and businesses need it to succeed. We have to plan ahead with adequate maintenance of the infrastructure we currently have.
  3. Small business - they create the jobs and pay the taxes to fund the other two. We need to create the environment in which small businesses can thrive. That environment certainly requires excellent public safety and excellent infrastructure.

Candidate Comparison

Where do the candidates stand on the issues? We've lined up a comparison below. For more in-depth information, click on either "Yes," "No," or "It's Complicated."

On The Issues

As Colorado Springs continues to grow, development has increased and rents and housing prices have gone up. What are your ideas for balancing growth with supporting that which is already here?

Jim Mason: I think we have to agree to a common operating picture of what we want the city to look like 10, 20 and 30 years from now. Establish the standards for vertical construction, infrastructural requirements, and integration schema toward creating a coexistence among new development and existing habitat. We must intentionally manage growth to allow the new to act as an enhancement of the old. As stated, we must 'balance' a desired coexistence in order to survive and thrive. We will govern and decide in accordance with the shared Vision.

Michael Seeger: We must seek to implement a system of growth that allows for affordable housing to become more prevalent. We must create a society where our citizens can thrive without having to overwork themselves on a daily basis. Partnerships with developers to create affordable housing would allow the markets to have more available units at more affordable prices.

Glenn Carlson: I think ReToolCOS, our comprehensive zoning updating project, will assist in addressing this. It allows for better use of land and a modernized approach, which will allow us to build less expensive housing. Responsible infill projects will also become a priority.

Dave Donelson: We must do the best we can with planning for future growth. At the same time maintenance on our existing bridges, roads and other infrastructure cannot be neglected. It becomes more expensive in the long run if we neglect them. The most effective way to lower rents and housing costs is to increase the supply.

Should Colorado Springs continue to spread out and grow to the north and east, or should the city focus on more and denser infill projects within city limits?

Jim Mason: Both. We must manage our growth in accordance with an agreed Vision. There are obvious situations when growth that enlarges our geographical footprint makes sense and situations when an infill course of action is more appropriate. Or growth is not a one or the other proposition...it is an inclusive and how best equation. The most important element is our shared Vision of where we are going. How we get there will become clear as we converse with; and inform each other.

Michael Seeger: Candidate did not submit an answer.

Glenn Carlson: Both. We will never control the economics of plentiful, inexpensive land to the east. That being said, we must embrace responsible infill projects when needed as well.

Dave Donelson: We will need to do some of each. The infill projects will need to be safe for current residents of the areas surrounding them and not change the "feel" of the area. The current neighborhoods need to be involved in an open process for approval of the project. The growth to the North and East should be planned and "pay for itself" in regards to infrastructure.

What should be the city's infrastructure investments over the next 10-20 years?

Jim Mason: Public Transportation in tandem with continued roadway, byway, and basic infrastructure enhancements.

Michael Seeger: With limited room to grow, especially on the western side of the city, we must seek to create creative infrastructure that allows for the most efficient use of the space available. We must come up with out of the box ideas,such as the Fillmore and I 25 project, that allow for the movement of traffic with limited space.

Glenn Carlson: I believe we should continue to play a major role in a focus to cleaner energy and water conservation.

Dave Donelson: Our infrastructure investments should be enough to cover the required maintenance of existing infrastructure, and any additional which is necessary but not covered by development of annexed areas such as Banning Lewis Ranch North. I will work with Travis Easton, Director of Public Works, and others to identify needs and address them.

What do you see as priorities or gaps in efforts for economic diversification?

Jim Mason: Clearly we must do all we can to attract an assortment of industries to Colorado Springs. Our major two economic contributors Defense and Tourism are worthy and welcomed; however, diversification provides an insurance policy that will underwrite interrupted economic prosperity. I think an enhanced Public Transportation system and an increased quantity of affordable housing will improve our opportunities for attracting new businesses and industries.

Michael Seeger: Colorado Springs has a wide variety of industry and jobs. We must make sure that we are encouraging economic opportunities that allow for the economic success of our community and our citizens. We must seek to make sure that we're a progressive society that is constantly analysing our practices to make sure that they are inline with the needs of our citizens.

Glenn Carlson: As an economist and business owner, I believe there us much work to do in terms of diversifying our economy. We need to make serious investments and be aggressive in nurturing and attracting employers from tech, as an example.

Dave Donelson: I believe Colorado Springs strong performance when compared with other cities during the COVID shutdowns demonstrates our economy is resilient. Businesses are moving to Colorado Springs for multiple reasons - but they are moving here.

As the city celebrates its sesquicentennial, what do you see as the number one success of the city in the last 150 years, and what is the number one issue the city has not gotten right, either through lack of trying or some other reason?

Jim Mason: I think our city's resilience and adaptability in thriving through the past century and half of every imaginable challenge known to a community, exemplify best who we are. Our continued progress serves to underwrite our successful and prosperous future. As for an area requiring improvement, I think we must continue fostering greater equity and inclusion. As a community of increasing growth and diversity we will be required to do a better job of ensuring every Citizen receives an equal opportunity to contribute to Colorado Springs’ success as a respected community member. I think the City has made a significant step in the proper direction with the recent hiring of Ms. Danielle Summerville, as the first Community Diversity & Outreach Programs Manager. This action demonstrates unequivocally we are committed and dedicated to recognizing and ridding our city's agencies of the vestiges of bigotry and marginalization, while enhancing a sound foundation of equity.

Michael Seeger: The greatest success of Colorado Springs in the past 150 years is creating a society that is able to exponentially grow and create great opportunities and great lives for our citizens. Through this great success, there is one issue in particular that has arisen. The city was never intended to grow so exponentially and therefore infrastructure in parts of the city cannot keep up with the continual growth. It will be up to us to create creative means of managing the lack of space to improve this infrastructure.

Glenn Carlson: I believe we have done a terrific job of protecting and preserving many of our key outdoor highlights like Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks Open Space, and Pikes Peak. I believe there is an opportunity for us to diversify our economy much further on the flip side of that question.

Dave Donelson: Colorado Springs number one success has been in finding ways to attract job and wealth producing institutions and businesses to our city. Our forefathers wisdom in securing water rights for the city is another great success. I do believe we have to be careful not to lose the unique flavor and character of Colorado Springs in the pursuit of becoming a "big city".

Is there anything specific you'd hope to prioritize on the council?

Jim Mason: I have addressed all I think appropriate at this time.

Michael Seeger: I have always believed that the government should be the voice of the people and should seek to understand the needs and wants of those that they serve. This is not always the case and I intend to assure my constituents that I will always seek to understand what is important to them and to implement that to the best of my abilities.

Glenn Carlson: City Council needs a fresh face on council. Someone that has had to close their business through the pandemic and has reopened. Someone that understands the struggles of the modern workforce and young professionals. We cannot have the same people in office and expect different results.

Dave Donelson: My four priorities are 1. Public Safety. 2. Infrastructure. 3. Support for small business. 4. Parks, Trails and Open Spaces - General Palmer chose the base of Pikes Peak as the location for his city because of the natural beauty of the area. I love the outdoors and worked two seasons in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana before entering the Army. I run the trails in and around Colorado Springs and have run the Pikes Peak Ascent and other races multiple times. We must maintain and enhance this beautiful treasure left to us by our founding fathers.