Colorado Springs City Council informally chooses new member to fill upcoming vacancy

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
City Hall in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs City Council has informally chosen Stephannie Fortune to fill the District 3 seat Richard Skorman is leaving at the end of the year. Fortune, a 16-year resident of Colorado Springs, moved into District 3 on the southwest side of the city in November.

She was one of seven finalists city council culled from a pool of 25 applicants to fill the vacancy. The finalists spoke to council members and answered their questions during Monday's  work session.

During Fortune’s presentation, she told the council about her experience working in politics and policy at all levels of government, including in Washington D.C., as well as with business and educational institutions. She emphasized the importance of collaboration to get things done along with supporting public safety and helping people. 

“I think we need to give people equal access (to opportunity) whether that’s through education or a career path or champions helping people figure out what to do next,” she said. “With all the homelessness we’re dealing with, with the incarcerations, with addiction running rampant, and drugs becoming more prevalent, we’ve got to get people on the front end of their journeys so that we can stop some of this from happening.”

Colorado Springs City Council worksession screenshot
Stephannie Fortune speaks during her interview as an applicant to fill the District 3 seat on Colorado Springs City Council that will be vacant when Richard Skorman resigns at the end of the year.

In response to questions from the council, she said she doesn’t support mask or vaccine mandates or legalizing the sale of recreational cannabis in the city. She is in agreement with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Five council members supported Fortune for the seat: Wayne Williams, Mike O'Malley, Dave Donelson, Randy Helms and Tom Strand. Five of eight council members, not including Skorman, had to agree on a candidate during a verbal poll. Council can't formally replace Skorman before his resignation is final at the end of the year.

Nancy Henjum, Bill Murray and Yolanda Avila backed long-time District 3 resident and retired educator Terry Martinez.

City council races are non-partisan, but Avila said it’s important to look at Skorman’s values and what the people in District 3 who elected him wanted. She noted that he put the recreational cannabis issue on the ballot and cares about parks, small business and helping the homeless.

“It's not about your districts, it’s about District 3 and what District 3 asked for,” she said. “To ask questions that make other council members feel comfortable with their own ideology is not to come up with what is happening in District 3 and what the people elected in District 3.”

Council is scheduled to vote on formalizing the appointment of Fortune during a special meeting on Jan 10. If formally appointed, she will serve until the next municipal election in April 2023, at which time a candidate will be elected to a two-year term.