Stephannie Fortune is the newest member of the Colorado Springs City Council.
She was appointed following the resignation of long-time District 3 councilman Richard Skorman.
KRCC's Abigail Beckman spoke with Fortune about connecting with voters and her plans for the future.
On representing District 3 with different views than her predecessor:
I will have a different approach just because that's human nature that we have to bring ourselves to this experience. We will have hundreds of votes this year and on some of them I will be aligned with the way Mr. Skorman voted, and on some of them, I won't be in alignment just because I have to take each individual issue and look at it.
My approach is number one: collaborative; number two, people tell me I'm thoughtful and that I listen to all the arguments for and against. And, I listen to some of the nuances that probably won't be known.
And lastly, I will say that for the votes that I've taken so far, I have gotten emails saying 'great job, so glad you voted that way.' And I've gotten some emails that say 'you didn't vote like Richard Skorman, and I don't appreciate that.' It's an interesting job to do where you know you're not going to make everyone pleased most of the time.
On the appointment process for replacing council members:
The process is set in the charter that the voters voted on 10 years ago. The charter was created around this issue to say there will be an election after somebody's appointed. In the case of this one, it just happened to be in April of next year.
There's also a cost to running an election … a special election. When resources are limited, do you spend money on a special election or do you spend money on helping with the homeless issue or do you keep trying to get the roads up to par? I understand why people had strong opinions about this. We have a very spirited district.
On current wildfire mitigation and evacuation plans for District 3:
I've been appointed to the [wildfire mitigation] task force so I'm grateful to have a voice and gain perspective that joins with what my constituents are saying to me in District 3. They have the loudest voice of all where I'm concerned and I represent them. [District 3] is surrounded by beauty, but that beauty is fragile. If we don't manage this, well... I am making fire mitigation and evacuation a top priority along with dealing with our homeless population and how do we coexist all of us together.
On whether she'll run for election in 2023:
Well, I committed to that. They asked me that question in December: they asked everyone the question and I said, "yes." And now I say, 'let's, let's hear from the constituents. Let's spend this year working really hard together. And then we'll collectively get together and decide how we all did together in that year.' So that's my, my commitment.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
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