Colorado Springs City Council Election 2021, District 3: Henry McCall, Richard Skorman, Arthur Glynn And Olivia Lupia On The Issues

This April, all six Colorado Springs City Council districts are up for election. District 3 can be loosely described as the southwest part of town. It borders Fort Carson and Pike National Forest, with Fillmore Street as its northern boundary.

Four people are running to represent District 3. 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

Henry McCall: Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Richard Skorman: Now, more than ever, we need experienced leadership to help navigate the complex and connected problems we face. I’m a serious policy guy with decades of service to the city of Colorado Springs. After serving on City Council for 11 years, President for four years, Vice Mayor for two, I’ve dedicated a majority of my adult life to public service. If re-elected, I believe we will continue to collaboratively, pragmatically, and pro-actively solve many of the issues we face as a city. We will need this experience to continue to recover from the impacts of COVID, grow responsibly, create more affordable housing, combat climate change, fix our infrastructure, and so much more.

As a small business owner with 47 years of experience here in Colorado Springs, I seek pragmatic, non-political solutions to problems that affect our citizens. I witnessed firsthand Colorado Springs’ ability to be resilient through economic hardships a decade ago when we pulled together in 2008, forging ahead with a robust economy focused on small businesses. I am confident we can do the same as a community again.

Despite the problems we may face, it is undeniable that Colorado Springs has developed into one of the greatest places to live, work, visit, and raise a family in the country. We’ve promoted and incentivized tremendous economic growth, dealt with many long-term festering infrastructure and public safety problems, such as our roads, stormwater, ADA upgrades and public safety attrition, and staffing and equipment. We’ve expanded our downtown, opened the Olympic Museum, and have two stadiums being built. At Colorado Springs Utilities, we are well on our way to weaning ourselves from fossil fuels after successfully closing Drake Power Plant a decade earlier than planned.

A majority of our citizens believe we are headed in the right direction, and I do too. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together, but I also believe there’s more work to be done. I want another four years on Council to keep building from the great foundation we have in Olympic City USA.

Arthur Glynn: When my family and I moved to Colorado Springs some fifteen years ago, we were taken with how families were engaged with their kids in their schools to help them achieve the same level of success that the parents enjoyed. We loved the way neighbors looked after neighbors, but most importantly, we were enamored at how happy people were. Over the past several years, we have seen that “magic” slip away and I felt compelled to stand up, step forward and fight to regain that what we loved so much.

Olivia Lupia: I have lived in Colorado Springs for 21 years, was raised here, and had all my formulative experiences here. Like many others in Colorado Springs, I have been watching our City Council unilaterally, without any serious constituent input, create a new identity and corresponding policies for the city. I am running to be a true, reflective voice for the wants and needs of my district, not what the rest of the city, county or state tells us we should want. I represent a new generation of leadership and desire to be a Councilmember that listens to the people of the city as we face our challenges.

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What purpose does city government serve for its citizens?

Henry McCall: Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Richard Skorman: City Hall is called the “People’s House” for a reason. Our purpose is to be accountable, transparent and provide equitable access to the decisions that impact the people of Colorado Springs. As the only City building with steps, we actively encourage peaceful demonstrations outside City Hall. Yet, just as important as allowing peaceful demonstrations outside, we also encourage our residents to come inside and let their voices be heard. In the last four years, we’ve held scores of town halls ranging from Puppy Mills to retiring the Drake Power Plant to the Devon Bailey shooting. We want to –– or for that matter, we need to –– hear from you before we make decisions. When our Planning Commission and Council regularly hold land-use public hearings, it is not uncommon for these sessions to go well into the night so everyone can express their opinion. Every formal Council meeting, we have Citizen’s Discussion, where constituents can be sure to have their voices heard regardless of what is on the agenda. We have 50 citizen-led commissions and boards that help shape the choices we make as a Council, and are actively seeking diverse and representative members to advise us.

Yet, we were also elected to City Council to get things done. We’re elected to listen and work together, but just as important is to solve the problems that face the people of Colorado Springs. It’s our job to bring everyone to the table and to accomplish things to improve our city for everyone. Whether it’s fixing 10,000 potholes to protecting our parks and open spaces to recovering from COVID, City Council must proactively and pragmatically tackle these issues.

Arthur Glynn: City Council serves to set policy and make certain the policies, charters and ordinances are appropriately funded and enforced. Acting as a legislative body, City Council passes an annual budget subject to the Mayor's approval. City Council also serves as the Board of Directors for Colorado Springs Utilities to ensure reliable and economical energy, water and sewage services.

Olivia Lupia: Using the U.S. Constitution as our guide, the role of the government at all levels is to protect the rights of the people- life, liberty, and property. The city should focus on providing services constituents need to safely and productively live their lives, not impede on liberties. I believe in minimal taxation and government regulation/interference in conjunction with free markets and personal responsibility. As a Council member, my goal would be to promote and enact policies that reflect governance according to both the state and national constitutions.

What are your Top 3 priorities?

Henry McCall: Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Richard Skorman: A lot of my priorities –– and the problems facing Colorado Springs–– are connected in more ways than not. But a top priority is to care for the health and well-being of our citizens and businesses. While the City does less than the country, the sooner we can get everyone vaccinated, the sooner we can keep the public safe and help our small businesses open. When we do get more federal funding for small businesses, we will also need to expedite getting those funds to those affected and reduce the bureaucracy as soon as possible. Recovering from COVID safely and equitably is of the utmost importance for our families, schools, businesses, and way of life. Not only will this help our residents but the 23 million-plus tourists who visit the Pikes Peak Region every year.

Another priority is addressing the affordable and accessible housing shortage that we have in Colorado Springs. We will need to make affordable housing a priority because the future of our City depends on it. It will no longer be sufficient to fast-track affordable projects, offer some incentives and stand up to neighbors who don't want "those people" to live near them. We need to do much more. It is critical over the next four years that City Council, CSU, and the Mayor provide every incentive and opportunity possible for the private marketplace and to non-profits to increase our affordable housing inventory. Right now, we have a shortage of approximately 26,000, and last year, we were ranked as one of the worst markets in the country. As we recover from COVID, those most vulnerable will be the most impacted: seniors, veterans, single parents, low-income, and unemployed.

Finally, it is an absolute priority to protect our open spaces, fund our parks, and keep the quality of life that we cherish. I first came to Colorado Springs from Akron, Ohio –– in many ways, a polar opposite of what Colorado Springs has to offer. We truly live in one of the most remarkable places on Earth, but we cannot take it for granted. We have to work for it. Closing Drake Power Plant was a leap in the right direction. No longer will we need to work, play, live, or breathe behind the shadow of a coal-plant downtown. But there are structural issues we must address. As a city, we need to put our money where our mouth is. We have a parks system that is underfunded by 200 million dollars in deferred maintenance. Funding our parks, protecting our open spaces, and maintaining the quality of life will be a priority that I’ll continue to advocate if re-elected.

Arthur Glynn: PROSPERITY – The American dream is alive and well! Our citizens have come to Colorado Springs to raise their families, enjoy good paying jobs, celebrate our great outdoor lifestyle and most importantly, be happy. We need to attract those jobs that bring people who aspire to make a better life and make our community vibrant while also retaining the magic we know as Colorado Springs.

ATTAINABLE HOUSING - Attainable housing focuses on the dream that you can work, save and make a better life for yourself and family. It means having a community where you want to plant roots, invest in your future and make an impact as compared to simply having a house to live in. This goes hand in glove with prosperity. For if we do, everyone benefits. We do not want to follow the Denver or Aurora model that has people fleeing in search of greener pastures.

ENVIRONMENT – We live in a beautiful city where people from all over the country and world want to come visit and once here, want to live. We are blessed to be known as the Olympic City USA and live at the base of America’s mountain, Pikes Peak. We are in jeopardy of seeing our wonderful city and surrounding country side going up in flames as we have seen across our state this past year and losing our precious water sources in the process. I have the interagency experience at the federal, state and local levels to pull all parties together to lay out a comprehensive plan that averts disaster. The clock is ticking and we need to move now.

Olivia Lupia: Since I as an individual Councilmember cannot accomplish anything alone, it is important to build a coalition amongst other Councilmembers. With the agreement and support of my peers, I would work to accomplish the following:

  1. Businesses and economic drivers require the opportunity to fully open and lead our city’s recovery and revitalization. We need to stimulate our flattened economy while keeping in mind the health and safety concerns relevant to our local communities. I look forward to being a part of City Council to promote business and constituent - friendly solutions for revitalization.
  2. Offer constituents more freedom and authority over their businesses, personal property, and lives by encouraging less government regulation, especially when it becomes a burden for the people. I believe in personal responsibility and accountability. For example, during COVID I believe business owners should have the right to decide the best safety measures required to operate their businesses safely and citizens should be able to decide what safety measures they feel are appropriate for their well-being outside of their own homes – those who have concerns can protect themselves without forcing everyone to accommodate them.
  3. Infrastructure and Energy- The people need a stronger voice concerning alternative transportation options, and City Council needs to be receptive by not implementing policies unilaterally. For example, while I am in favor of effective transportation alternatives, like an expanded and more accessible Metro system, I do not support the forced sacrifice of our existing thoroughfares for initiatives such as bike lane-dominant roadways. This is not a practical effort for a vehicle-dominant city with a climate that truly does not allow for year-round use of bike lanes. Additionally, current green energy initiatives being pursued by City Council will come at heavy ratepayer expense. These initiatives, such as solar and wind power, are being proven in other areas of the country to be expensive to implement, ineffective in meeting the energy needs of customers, and create increased rates for consumers. Additionally, the required infrastructure components have proven unreliable and once broken down, or at the end of its useful life, the materials are non-recyclable thus creating more landfill buildup and environmental damage. I believe the city of Colorado Springs currently has a reliable, responsible, and cost-effective power system that if properly maintained and updated can last well into the future.

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?

Henry McCall: Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Richard Skorman: I have several. First, we need to continue to make sure that new growth pays for itself. Right now, a new single-family house in the City costs 30k more than in the County because we do. Plus help new development create Special Districts that allows them to build needed infrastructure. We are going to reassess our Police and Fire Impact fees and I think we should charge a Park Impact fee, as was suggested in our 2014 Park Masterplan. We also need to be as proactive as we can in incenting the market place to build more affordable and attainable housing by: waiving or discounting fees required by the City, Utilities and Regional Building; creating a substantial land bank with City, Utility and non-profit land; creating an Affordable Housing Trust Fund through public and private sources; invest in eviction prevention services and bridge funding for those who are at risk of losing their homes to gentrification; stand up to neighborhoods that don’t want “those” people moving near them; redo our zoning regs to allow for more density; and finally offering much more pro-active inclusionary zoning options for new Apartment complexes.

Arthur Glynn: The American dream is alive and well! Our citizens came to Colorado Springs to raise their families, enjoy good paying jobs, celebrate our great outdoor lifestyle and most importantly, be happy. We need to attract those jobs that bring people who aspire to make a better life and make our community vibrant, retaining the magic we know as Colorado Springs. The concept of a "rising tide, raises all boats" applies here. Economic diversification is key to our continued prosperity and we as a city are making great strides to achieve just that.

Olivia Lupia: I believe the free market is one of the best tools for meeting supply and demand needs, and that businesses will rise to meet those needs as appropriate. The city can focus on approving community-appropriate infill projects, reducing fees (for example, it should not cost $30,000 more in fees to build a house inside city limits versus the county), and determining how much growth the city can realistically and sustainably tolerate.

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?

Henry McCall: Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Richard Skorman: Absolutely. As we redo our building and zoning codes (Re-tool COS) and implement our Comp Plan (Plan COS), we need to allow for density and uses, like tiny home villages, micro apartments, accessary dwellings and more density in appropriate residential neighborhoods and conversion of office and commercial to affordable and attainable residential. We also need to do better planning with the County for the urban level density that they are allowing to ensure that growth doesn’t negatively impact the Region, Utilities and the residents of the City.

Arthur Glynn: The growth rates Colorado Springs is experiencing requires a comprehensive analysis to include both infill projects and expansion. It also requires coordination between City Council and the Board of County Commissioners to develop a comprehensive plan to meet this growth. Currently, there is somewhat of an exodus from Colorado Springs to outlying areas due to a dearth of available housing and associated permitting and development costs. People are voting with their wallets and if we fail, they may very well be forced to move elsewhere.

Olivia Lupia: There needs to be a balance of both. I am in favor of more infill projects, but not at the price of radically changing or compromising existing communities/neighborhoods. We also need to keep in mind the effects on the entire city as we continue to expand outward (transportation, utilities, new infrastructure, etc.). At this point in time there needs to be some level of new development to address the growth the city is experiencing, but again all in balance with what the city can sustainably support in the future.

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

Henry McCall: Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Richard Skorman: The biggest one needs to be parks, new greenway infrastructure, broadband and new electricity generation (renewable) through rooftop solar and neighborhood battery storage and Regional Transportation infrastructure that allow for options to driving large vehicles that are most empty like Greenways, Front Range Passenger Rail, door to door Jitney service, HOV lanes and guided-route bus lane service.

Arthur Glynn: Colorado Springs is lagging in infrastructure development though efforts to improve our potholes through additional taxes has made some headway. The biggest challenge will be access to sufficient water. This problem exists for all of the front range, though given our projected growth rates, we will have to address this issue sooner than later. Fortunately, Colorado Springs Utilities has been proactive and is securing water from across the state.

Energy diversification is another critical need and fortunately, Colorado Springs Utilities is diligently working to achieve that diversification through the use natural gas, wind, solar and hydroelectric while maintaining resilient and economical power generation.

Olivia Lupia: Only what is needed to support growth and redevelopment. More importantly, we should be focusing on maintaining and updating/upgrading our existing infrastructure before focusing on anything new that is not absolutely necessary.

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

Henry McCall: Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Richard Skorman: It’s a gift that we have so many employers and federal help with our military bases and we need to continue to provide as much infrastructure as possible to retain and expand them. Although we should continue to promote and grow tourism, we need to refocus from lower paying service jobs to ones that provide an income that now fits with our increasing cost of living to higher ones related to outdoor recreation opportunities instead of attractions. How we invest in our recreation opportunities, Greenways, transportation infrastructure, workforce housing and expand our Urban core will drive more investment in small businesses and entrepreneurs relocating their business here because of our great quality of life, bringing better paying and more diverse job opportunities. We also need to focus more Economic Development opportunities in the Southeast and Near East corridors, where work opportunities are lacking for those who need them most.

Arthur Glynn: Colorado Springs has the advantage of having five military bases which has brought in quite a bit of federal dollars. Associated with this is the efforts to make Colorado Springs the permanent home for USSPACECOM. Though Huntsville, AL was designated as the home during the waning days of the last administration, the merits of Colorado Springs are still being pursued and should not be discounted. Having Amazon build their 4 million square foot distribution center here is clearly a step in the right direction and adds to economic diversification. Additionally, the expansion of UCCS will further add to our diversification.

Olivia Lupia: I do not believe there are any gaps. Historically, we have been a military dependent town, which we need to continue to foster. It is important to continue to capitalize on what has made Colorado Springs what it is - our military academy, bases, and defense contractors, Olympic headquarters and facilities, two 4-year colleges, and a large community college network. We are seeing diversification (Amazon facility, technology startups, etc.), but rather than whole sale focus on diversification we need to focus on strengthening our ties with our historic and well established economic drivers and encourage diversification through other avenues, especially by inviting companies interested in supporting our traditional Colorado culture and lifestyle in lieu of changing it to be more like where they came from.

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?

Henry McCall: Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Richard Skorman: Our biggest success is the passage and renewal of the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) tax, protecting 10,000 acres of open space that would have been developed, building 100 miles of new trails and building dozens new parks. General Palmer would be proud, but there is still much more work to do.

Arthur Glynn: Gen William Palmer, if alive today would be dumbfounded in what Colorado Springs has become. Originally designed to take advantage of the aura of European spas, it is the "western spirit" that brought a great many here and still do today. Thus, our growth has been both a blessing and a curse. We failed to anticipate the extent of the impact that growth brought and its implications. When Katharine Lee Bates penned "America the Beautiful", it was symbolic of our great nation and remains today. We sit at the base of "America's Mountain" and we are "Olympic City USA". It is incumbent upon us to be the guiding light that exemplifies Americas virtues.

Olivia Lupia: Even as the city has grown, we have maintained a small town feel with city amenities. This makes our city unique and has given a sense of nostalgia, comfort, and hospitality to many generations of citizens. It's why we are currently one of the most recommended places to visit. We should not be moving away from that mentality. While we continue to grow, we are not a city like Los Angeles, Washington D.C., or even Denver, and should not use those other metropolitan areas as measuring sticks. Treating our city as such is a mistake, and pushing toward turning Colorado Springs into a modern progressive haven is a disservice to our history and our culture. For the next 150 years, we should strive to keep in mind what makes us unique and desirable, and keep our city on that special path.

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

Henry McCall: Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Richard Skorman: Planning for the effects of Climate Change as we continue to become hotter (2.5 degrees hotter than the rest of the State) by doing much more proactive Wildfire response planning, replacing and significantly increasing our Urban Canopy, constructing homes and buildings in the future that rely on distributed, renewable energy to power the air conditioning that will be installed in the future (70 % saturation) and that have as much energy saving materials and appliances as possible.

Arthur Glynn: Candidate did not provide an answer.

Olivia Lupia: Human/sex trafficking has become a pervasive and growing but silent issue in our city and state. Most constituents are totally unaware that our junior highs and high schools have become active hunting grounds for human/sex trafficking syndicates. While some ignore the problem completely and retain the mentality that this true pandemic is non-existent, I consider it crucial that City Council make a point of partnering with school districts, law enforcement, and specialized organizations to introduce and implement education programs that inform both youth and adults about how to protect themselves and others from these predators.