Colorado Springs City Council Election 2021, District 2: Jay Inman, David Noblitt, Dave Geislinger And Randy Helms On The Issues

This April, all six Colorado Springs City Council districts are up for election. District 2 can be loosely described as the north-central part of town. Dublin Boulevard and Cottonwood Creek are roughly its Southern border.

Four people are running to represent District 2. 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

Jay Inman: I'm a Christian Conservative pro-life Republican. My desire to protect the Innocent in Colorado Springs spans from Utilities resilience and stability to taking off our masks and completely opening up our city's churches, businesses, and schools.

David Noblitt: Candidate did not provide an answer.

Dave Geislinger: Four years ago, running unopposed, I promised to focus on having us recognize that we are now a large City, and must engage in proactive governance rather than reacting in the "whack-a-mole" mentality that had, until recently, been our practice. I also promised, in addition to focusing on making sure the governance process was more predictable and transparent, that I would make affordable housing a priority. Both of these have been accomplished because there has been collaboration and respect among Council, the Mayor's office and citizens as reflected in the many acknowledgements Colorado Springs has received over the past 2-3 years. This is something we want to continue.

Randy Helms: I am Randy Helms and my decision to run for City Council District 2 was an extension of my choice of career. I want to continue to serve our community as I did our Nation. I am a proud graduate of your USAF Academy and I have 40 years of leadership and management experience as a Commanding Officer, Educator and Charitable organization leader. My family were public servants and they taught me to give back. My Father was a police officer, small business owner and served our city as council member and mayor. He and my Mother inspired me to develop as a leader beginning with earning my Eagle Scout award followed by my appointment to the USAF Academy. The Academy is where I fell in love with Colorado Springs and my wife Donna. I am a principled driven conservative that District 2 needs. I am the right leader for District 2.

What purpose does city government serve for its citizens?

Jay Inman: In our city, that purpose straddles utilities, zoning, expansion, and listening to citizens before making decisions in these areas.

David Noblitt: It is supposed to serve the people that they represent, not self interest.

Dave Geislinger: The primary purpose of any government is public safety, health and well-being. On the local level, this is reflected most immediately in our Police, Fire, Traffic and Public Works Departments. These Departments must be funded at the standard for cities of our geographic size and population, and I have made decisions to ensure this is accomplished, and will continue to do so. On the longer term, Parks and Planning Departments contribute to these objectives, and I have committed to working to improve funding for both.

Randy Helms: Government should only do the things that governments are meant to do. City government should address roads and infrastructure, water, energy (renewable and other options) public safety needs, creating and protecting our parks and open space and working to ensure a healthy downtown and cultural center. It is important that we create a community that gives our younger citizens and college graduates a reason to stay in Colorado Springs filling the jobs that have come with our growth. The first priority of our city government is Public Safety. As the son of a police officer, I wholeheartedly support our police and first responders. After the events of this past summer and prior to my decision to run for City Council I applied to participate on the newly formed Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission. While I was not selected, my goal, my pledge if elected will be to work to ensure that commission becomes part of the solution. The LETAC is an excellent example of our city leaders listening to the concerns of their citizens. We must keep in mind we as citizens pay for this with our tax dollars. Our city government is responsible for Fiscal Responsibility, Accountability and Fair Taxpayer Representation.

What are your Top 3 priorities?

Jay Inman:

  1. Electrical resilience and stability. As we electrify more devices in our culture, even cars, we must have resilient and cheap electricity. The 2020s will be about diverse electrical generation.
  2. We must continue to access stable water resources for our city.
  3. Using our 'Home Rule' authority to open up, take off masks and restore penalties to marijuana possession in city limits. We must stand behind families and schools to resist drug abuse.

David Noblitt: Accountability, Public Safey, Responsible growth. To start, actually engaging the citizens that I represent. Ensuring that they are fulling and openly informed on all matters that effect them and the city. Listen to and find answers for the concerns that are brought forward by the people that I represent; not just simply ignore their position because of personal or outside influence. Ensure that we have the fundamental resources to keep our city safe, in which we are lagging. We annexed Banning Lewis Ranch to supposedly slow the growth of the county and provide opportunity to grow our city. We barely defined enough water to cover the expanse with the 1 billion dollar SDS. So why did we just annex an additional 900 acres far outside our current footprint that will stretch everything from water, to roads, to public safety? Our growth needs to follow what is good for everyone, not just the people who profit from it now.

Dave Geislinger: While not an "issue", per se, a major priority must continue to be ensuring that the governing process is redictable, and that all citizens are confident that the decision-making process is fair, equitable and just, as making decisions in the right way tends to ensure that good decisions are made. That said, the top three issues I would identify are continuing to address affordable/attainable/workforce housing and long term water sustainability, and developing a long-term, sustainable, comprehensive parks plan.

Randy Helms: Roads and infrastructure continue to be priorities for our community and for our citizens. Working with City Staff, El Paso County and the State to fund the needed road and bridge projects will continue to be a top consideration of this Council and me.

Public Safety and Community Building will always be a priority for me. A safe and stable environment directly impacts safe neighborhoods. As the son of a police officer, I wholeheartedly support our police and our first responders. For me, character counts. I do not believe that we can or should tolerate violence, racism or discrimination.

Economy: I am keenly aware of the impacts of the pandemic on our small businesses and local economy. Even with the Pandemic the City’s 2020 tax revenues came in higher than expected. This was due to the increased housing and commercial construction along with online shopping. I support giving relief to our small businesses with incentives such as providing for a City Sales Tax Holiday again. I am open to other types of relief to ensure they stay open and healthy. Currently funding is coming from federal, state and local governments as well as philanthropy.

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?

Jay Inman: Build more houses. Rezoning and Infill conversations must first consider neighbors. We have a messy problem set around annexation. It is easier to annex then manage development. Doing it the other way, annexing developed areas, is painful as utilities and traffic must integrate housing areas already mature in building but lacking in stable utilities.

David Noblitt: Creatively looking to infill and subsidies from grant monies to seed more projects that can be self sustaining following their development. It just needs more focus outside of finding ways to give away business growth and rapidly expand our city without infrastructure support.

Dave Geislinger: In addition to the four part affordable housing plan I very briefly discussed in the prior answer, it is important to note that unlike communities that are landlocked, development is going to occur in the open space surrounding our City whether it is annexed into the City or not. Because of this we have already begun to look at our annexation policy (and the related concern about new growth needing to be supported by renewable water provided by CSU rather than the well water that is drying up) and ensure that City standards of development are met. We cannot prevent development, we can try and make sure it meets City standards.

Randy Helms: I believe I have addressed this question in the previous questions. One of the things that government does and should do is provide the roads and infrastructure and public safety needed to support this growth which Is going to continue. Currently new development – ultimately the homebuyer - pays for the infrastructure impacts in several different ways. What is needed is for our city, county, state and federal governments to do is prioritize the dollars they already collect from taxpayers from the gas tax, etc.

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?

Jay Inman: YES - preferably by annexing then developing responsibly. Density and infill projects are discussions for City Council but again, neighbors of these efforts must be permitted to weigh in first. Then Utilities and traffic studied before these resolutions go before Council.

David Noblitt: Creatively looking to infill and subsidies from grant monies to seed more projects that can be self sustaining following their development. It just needs more focus outside of finding ways to give away business growth and rapidly expand our city without infrastructure support.

Dave Geislinger: In assessing impact fees as I discussed in the section on affordable housing, we need to look at incentivizing the type of development that is needed and desired. Infill is needed because it will reduce transportation needs, does not require extension of services and can provide more affordable housing. In revising its water hook-up fees, CSU is already recognizing that it is cheaper to extend services from existing infrastructure than buolding new pipes, and I suspect this will result in less expensive costs for infill. This is the type of investigation we need to to continue moving forward.

Randy Helms: We are a large City. It is predicted by many experts that we will continue to grow adding at least another 250,000 residents in the near future. People are moving here from all over the country especially California. They want to own a home. Our city core is nearly void of places to expand. Development, homebuilding is going where it is available and hopefully more affordable. I have stated previously in the questionnaire that I support infill. That said there are many components including zoning and neighborhood acceptance that have to be addressed. And, as stated before, we will need to address roads and infrastructure, water, energy (renewable and other options) public safety needs, creating and protecting our parks and open space as we grow to ensure a sustainable community

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

Jay Inman: The 2020s will be about diverse electrical generation. Coal has a steady state cost per kilowatt hour. Right now, propane gas generator blocks are low cost per kilowatt hour but gas costs are more volatile. Renewables - as proven in Texas - do not yet create a stable electrical grid. We must wisely and prudently increase electrical generation in a stable grid as opposed to rushing into the future and having our own 'Texas' moment.

David Noblitt: That which is possible with the available funding. We have a lack of sustainable funding to support the basics. We need to look at how our cities business is being handled, and ensure that we are not selling our future hopes and security for a legacy today.

Dave Geislinger: Broadband investment will be needed to support and enhance public safety, whether there is a public/private investment or not. We are going to have to address transportation infrastructure as well, not just streets but multi-modal to include parking outside the City center with means of access to the core without need of a personal automobile. Utilities will need to address water sustainability, particularly regionally (without impacting the City) as it is the only large source of rebewable water.

Randy Helms: As stated previously roads and infrastructure are 2 important things that government does and should do. Allowing the market to dictate as it has with the “City of Champions” our city should create opportunity and incentives to create a vibrant and sustainable community.

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

Jay Inman: Number one GAP: Open up. Take off masks, open up businesses, open up schools, and open up churches. If we remove this gap, the sky is the limit for what families can accomplish in our city.

David Noblitt: I believe that we were given a gift during this pandemic. We had a supporting economic influx of people wanting to do things that are outside, entertaining while enjoying the natural beauty of this city. We should build upon that, support the Olympic movement, but also the healthy outdoor wonderment of Colorado. Expanding and supporting that to improve tourism would supplement a economy based primalry on the defense sector.

Dave Geislinger: I am very pleased with the diversification of the economy over the last several years, though we are still too dependent on the military (see Space Force). That said, the business community has shared that new companies have expressed that the lack of affordable/attainable/workforce housing is an obstacle to relocating (a primary reason given for not locating Space Force here) so, more than just a moral issue, housing impacts the economy aas well.

Randy Helms: I’m not sure what your interpretation of diversification is as it appears to be happening with the downtown development of housing, even affordable housing – companies like Amazon coming to our community, etc. is but, as stated before I would support economic incentives and public-private partnerships.

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?

Jay Inman: Water is our number 1 success. That investment straddles the last century and continues to serve our citizens well, but must be diligently continued. Closing Drake might prove to be our most foolish one. We do not yet have any guarantee, once Drake is closed, that we will continue to have a stable electrical grid. As mentioned earlier, stable electrical generation from diverse resources will be our most critical issue in the 2020s.

David Noblitt: We overcame a stigma of being a cut rate, unattractive and dull city. We need to make sure that our new found persona is not so negatively impactful that it destroys what we have here in our location, quality of life, and the beauty of Colorado Springs. That the street smarts of actually taking care of our city, its streets, it cleanliness, its access, is all considered as we race to grow up to a real city.

Dave Geislinger: For the most part, from the founding of our City, we have recognized that it is necessary to bring water to sustain our growth. CSU has almost always looked forward, not just in the next 5-10 years, but with an eye towards the next 5-10 decades! I am proud that through the water regionalization working group our recently approved electric plan, we are continuing to do so. Until the last 8-10 years or so, for the preceding quarter century or so, the City did not appear to make decisions with the same long-term perspective, and we are now forced to try and catch up.

Randy Helms: It is hard to quantify number one. Our city fathers have gotten many things right including providing for water for our community into the future. From the beginning Colorado Springs has understood the importance of Tourism and the Military community to the economy.

The military alone is responsible for at least 40% of our local economy. Storm water and the second order affects are the number one issue we have not gotten right in the recent past. The city is addressing it and let’s makes sure we learn that lesson and do not repeat it. Our community is reluctant to give more taxes when the taxes they pay currently may not be prioritized as they would like. Mayor Suthers has done a very good job illustrating need and the taxpayers have trusted him with approval of funding for storm water, roads and infrastructure and taking care of our legacy like the parks donated by our original developer General Palmer.

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

Jay Inman: Open our schools. The most horrible ongoing pandemic is depression and suicide. Not COVID.

David Noblitt: All people need to be heard, they may not all get what they want, but they need to be heard and understood. Thank you for your concern in providing this format.

Dave Geislinger: As a community leader who is also a Hospital Chaplain and front line medical worker in a pandmic, and as an ordained Catholic Deacon for the past 15 years, I have, and will continue to prioritize treating every member of our community with dignity and worth. It is fundemental to who I am, and is basic to becoming the City we want to be. It is intrinsic to governing in the "right way" and, as your City Council", is an example we should be expected to set.

Randy Helms: At the end of this survey my priorities remain the same; Roads and infrastructure, the economy – recovery, and public safety.