After 13 years on city council and more than 30 years in public service, Colorado Springs City Council President Pro Tem Richard Skorman is resigning this month. Skorman handily won re-election in April for what would have been a four-year term. He cited unforeseen business challenges from the pandemic as the reason for stepping down.
KRCC's Abigail Beckman spoke with Skorman as he transitions away from council.
Highlights from the interview
On what kept him coming back to city government:
I love local government. It's not partisan, you're really dealing with practical problems. And so it was always my preference. I mean, people would say, 'why don't you run for higher office?' And I would always say, 'I like local government because that's where the action is and you can really get a lot of things done.'
On his replacement Stephannie Fortune, chosen informally by city council to replace Skorman:
I wish that they had chosen somebody that was more in line with me, but I want to give her a chance. She seems to be really earnest. She spent a lot of time with me asking my opinions and I don't prejudge. You have to make sure that people understand how you feel and I have.
On growth and safety in the city:
How we manage growth in the wildland urban interface is going to be critical in the future because lots of people want to live there and we understand that, but how we can have them live there safely is going to be an issue. There's also big challenges for growth in the whole region. There's urban level development that's happening in the county; Falcon could be 50,000 people. Water is a huge precious resource that we manage really well as a region and understand what we need to make sure that development pays for itself, but not shut down the door. It's not easy to do. I moved here in 1970, does that give me the right to be here and somebody else doesn't? We are a very desirable place to live and so we have to manage it well, and that's going to be the key.
On Colorado Springs and climate change:
We have to remake ourselves because of climate change. For one thing, we only have a 19 percent urban canopy where we have a lot less shade than other places. We're building electric generation for air conditioners…which puts a lot more heat into the atmosphere and that's going to be our challenge. We're going to have major weather events like we had [earlier this month] and that's something you can't change, but we need to remake ourselves.
We have so much solar gain here that we have an opportunity to be one of the cleanest, best places in the country to live without these big pipes and power plants everywhere. And we have an ability to manage it in a way many other places don't because we have so much of our utility infrastructure underground. We can be modern. We can be clean. We can have tremendous access to the outdoors and be one of the best places in the country or the world to live.
On plans to evolve his businesses and spend more time managing the stores:
We're remaking our businesses, especially the restaurant portions of it. Because of COVID, if you think about us, we were very brick and mortar before we brought a lot of people in and crowded them in and we don't feel safe doing that right now. So, we're going to build a big area up back. We're going to have a lot more events and music and our play area back there with a lot of airflow. And then like other businesses that we're going to get modern. We're going to have people being able to order on apps and be able to get books online. And I'm going to put my apron on and be down there all the time because that's our livelihood and we want to make sure that we take care of the people that have taken care of us.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Skorman owns and operates Poor Richard's Books and Gifts, which is an underwriter of KRCC.
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