Colorado Springs municipal election: Voter guide | How to make sure your vote is counted | How campaign finances are playing out in the election | Extending the TOPS Tax | Mayor's race | At-large council race | District 3 council race
KRCC News sent detailed surveys about some of the most critical issues facing city leaders, to the candidates running for the three “at-large” seats on Colorado Springs City Council. The short biography below is gleaned from the candidate's response, their websites and other sources.
Local businessman David Leinweber focuses on access to the outdoors and mental health awareness. A Colorado native and resident of Colorado Springs for 32 years, he and his wife own and manage a fly fishing shop and guide service. Eight years ago, Leinweber founded the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance, a coalition of small businesses, government agencies and conservation groups aimed at stewarding outdoor resources. He’s also been involved with other community groups and done outdoor advocacy work at the state level, including helping set policy. He has a bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries from Rockmont College.
In the news:
Role and vision
What is your elevator pitch for why voters in Colorado Springs should choose you as the next at-large council representative?
As a 32 year resident, and 26 year successful small businesses owner of Angler’s Covey, a fly-fishing shop on the west side of the city, I have been a strong voice for community. I also founded Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance (PPORA.org), which is a coalition of small businesses, regional and state government offices, and local outdoor conservation groups united in a movement to create responsible use and stewardship of our outdoor resources. I've been pro-active in helping create solutions to the challenges in our community and understand how to build coalitions to affect positive outcomes. With my proven history, I will bring a commitment to community trust-building and collaborative problem solving to our City Council.
What do you see as the role and/or function of city government?
City government serves the people of the community. City government officials are elected representatives who act in a decision-making capacity on behalf of the residents of Colorado Springs. City council members have the incredible responsibility to set policy, approve budgets, and pass legislation at the local level. For Colorado Springs, the relationship between the mayor and city council must be strong to serve the residents of our city. Leaders within city government must have an expertise of bringing people and the community together to collaborated and problem solve to take on the challenges we face and to position Colorado Springs strategically as a place to live and thrive.
What is the number one challenge facing the next council of Colorado Springs, and how would you address it?
Somewhere along the way to achieving the amazing success our city has experienced, we have forgotten how to love our neighbor. El Paso country ranks 1st in the state in suicides. Beneath the surface of public safety, homelessness, substance abuse, unemployment, reduced productivity, increased healthcare costs, strained relationships, domestic violence, and increased crime, mental health is a key contributor. I will address mental health issues at the community level. I will work to increase collaboration between key partners to improve access to professional care, promote early identification and intervention, encourage individuals to seek help, and build stronger support systems. Ultimately, we will bring the mental health issue out of isolation and darkness and create opportunities for recovery.
What is your vision for Colorado Springs in the next 25 years, and what realistic policies do you propose to get us there?
To put it simply, my vision for Colorado Springs is one where our families are healthier, our neighborhoods are safer, and our city is still one that we are all proud to call home. To be frank, there aren't any silver bullet policies that will help us achieve that reality, but a culture that we create and maintain. It's a culture where the voices of our families and neighborhoods are respected in our city's decision making, it's one where city leaders set aside differences to create solutions that work for our community, and a culture that envisions the future of what can be rather than looking in the rearview mirror. That's the lasting legacy I want to leave as your City Councilor.
Law enforcement / Public Safety
What is the most pressing public safety issue facing the city and how would you address it?
Mental health is the issue that is woven into the majority of the challenges we face as a community and public safety is no exception. Many of the issues we face as a society stem from inadequate attention and resources dedicated to helping people through their mental health challenges. Once we elevate this issue into the public conscious, we will finally see results with respect to the issues we face related to suicide, homelessness, crime, and domestic violence.
What is your response to the findings from the audit on how the Colorado Springs Police Department uses force? What, if any, changes need to be made to the way CSPD operates?
We put our trust in our Police. I put my trust in our Police. With that trust comes an expectation that there is a constant desire to improving the use of force within a police department. Unfortunately, the use of force is at times required, but hopefully rare. This requires clear policies, regular training, increased accountability, positive community relationships, officer wellness, and regular review and revision of policies. Departments should establish policies that define when and how force can be used, and officers should receive training in de-escalation techniques and non-lethal force options. Departments should track and report use of force incidents and investigate excessive force. Positive community relationships can be built through community policing programs, outreach events, and regular communication. Prioritizing officer wellness and regularly reviewing and revising use of force policies can also help improve practices and build trust with communities.
What do you think of the current relationship between the Colorado Springs Police Department and the public? Is it acceptable or should more be done, and if so, what?
Colorado Springs has one of the top police departments in the state. This has been achieved because of a healthy relationship between the police and its residents and is characterized by trust, respect, transparency, accountability, collaboration, cultural competence, fairness, and equality. I would expect our police department to treat all members of the community fairly and equally, work collaboratively with the community to solve problems, and build strong partnerships with community organizations and stakeholders. This also would include being culturally competent, respectful of cultural traditions and practices, and trained in how to communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds. Additionally, the police need to be transparent about their actions and accountable for any misconduct or abuse of power. In our community, both the police and residents need work together to be successful in creating a safe and supportive neighborhoods for all.
What do you think of the Law Enforcement Transparency and Advisory Commission (LETAC)? What would you do differently with this commission or its purpose if given the chance?
LETAC serves an important role in establishing relationships between the CSPD, the residents of Colorado Springs, and City Council. As an advisory committee, LETAC can help inform City Council for data-driven decisions and policy recommendations regarding the police department. Because of its mission, to improve relationships between CSPD and the public, I would rely on LETAC to provide a perspective that could shape decisions around police recruitment, training, and retention so that we can build trust between law enforcement and the community they serve. I wouldn't necessarily change the commission or its purpose, but, instead, rely on their mission and vision to serve the residents of Colorado Springs.
Emergency officials are implementing new notification software and other measures in the case of a wildfire or other hazard, but some residents say that isn’t enough. How would you address their concerns?
The recently launched "COS Ready" campaign is a huge step toward the safe evacuation in the event of a wildfire. The challenge for the evacuation of specific neighborhoods will vary, so I will certainly create opportunities for residents in different neighborhoods to share their specific concerns. By building partnerships between first responders, local businesses, and the residents of those neighborhoods, we can address issues such as fire mitigation, access to thoroughfares, personal responsibilities to be prepared. My efforts to create safe neighborhoods will certainly include measures for emergency evacuation.
How do you define sustainable and responsible growth, and is the city successful in growing responsibly and sustainably?
Sustainable growth refers to economic growth that can be maintained over the long-term without causing negative impacts on the environment, society, or economy. This means that economic development is pursued in a way that is compatible with the preservation of natural resources, the well-being of communities, and the stability of financial systems. Responsible growth, on the other hand, refers to economic growth that is pursued in a manner that is accountable to all stakeholders, including neighbors, employees, customers, communities, and the environment. Responsible growth entails a commitment to ethical business practices, transparency, and the creation of value for all stakeholders. It also involves addressing social and environmental concerns in the pursuit of economic objectives, such as reducing carbon emissions, promoting diversity and inclusion, and investing in the education and development of employees. Overall, responsible growth seeks to balance the interests of all stakeholders and create sustainable value for society as a whole. I believe Colorado Springs has done well with both of theses and I plan to help keep the momentum going.
What different approach would you take, if any, to help address housing affordability?
I will keep the same momentum going forward always looking for infill development where it makes the most sense and taking advantage of existing infrastructure and resources within our city.
Infill is identified in the PlanCOS master plan as a key strategy for the city moving forward, and yet, council is currently debating annexations. How do you define infill and how do you balance it with annexations?
Infill is an approach to develop unused or underutilized areas within a city. I would be an advocate for more thorough considerations of infill before annexations. Infill allows a city to intentionally plan for more attainable housing, invite retail opportunities, and bolster neighborhoods that may be declining. When done with a mindful and conscious decision-making process, infill can revitalize schools, create parks or greenways, and provide opportunities for young families to establish roots in our city. While annexation is always a viable option, we have tremendous opportunity within our city limits to build attractive, safe, and vibrant neighborhoods.
What do you think of the recent water service extension ordinance passed by council and signed by the mayor aimed at limiting annexations based on water supply? What would you have done differently?
Decisions related to our water should be grounded in science and data. History has demonstrated that Colorado Springs is a good steward of our water resources and is pro-active in accumulating more water rights to guarantee our future water security. However, the current situation on the Colorado River, where we source a good portion of our water, requires a thoughtful discussion on how we continue to protect our city's water. As a City Councilor, I would have advocated to slow down the current process to ensure we are gathering and fully understanding the relevant facts, robustly engaging the community to ensure our decisions are made with the full trust and confidence of our residents, and working to bring other regional entities to the table to ensure all municipalities in the Pikes Peak region are equally prioritizing our region's water needs in a cooperative fashion.
How do you balance maintaining the character of Colorado Springs with the need for development? What is the character of Colorado Springs?
I have lived in Colorado Springs for 32 years, raised a family here, and owned and operated a successful small business. I would characterize Colorado Springs as a community that values a healthy lifestyle, with access to outdoor recreation, and a city that values quality education and civic involvement. We can maintain that character as we grow responsibly. It's vital that we protect our parks and open spaces, our access to outdoor recreation, and that we manage growth so that our neighborhoods remain safe for our residents.
Transportation / Infrastructure
What is the most important infrastructure project needed in Colorado Springs right now, and how would you address it?
A big portion of our job as city councilors is to serve as the board of our publicly owned Colorado Springs Utilities. Our most important infrastructure project in Colorado Springs is protecting this public asset to make sure our electricity and water infrastructure remains resilient and environmentally sustainable into the future. We must take steps to ensure we are adequately addressing our water and energy needs as we face growing challenges related to our water supply and our utility transitions more to a green energy portfolio. As I mentioned in my above response to water, I would address this issue through ensuring our solutions to these challenges are grounded in science and the data while making sure our neighborhoods are fully engaged in these important community conversations.
How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in Colorado Springs? What plans, if any, do you have to increase options for reliable public transportation?
As a growing city there is always a need for more transportation options. As a city councilor I believe we need to take a neighborhood by neighborhood approach to improving transportation options by understanding the needs of our neighbors and aligning that with the options that fit their life styles and socioeconomic realities. Transportation options should center around helping residents address their needs of food, shelter, employment, education, and accessing the outdoors.
What are your thoughts about expanding the use of active transportation like bicycles or walking? Should it be a primary focus and if so, what should be done?
Active transportation such as bicycling and walking are healthy options for residents of a health-conscious city. As a city councilor, my primary focus is on the mental health of our citizens -- and both of these modes of transportation can support that. I am also concerned with the safety of our residents. Bicycle lanes and walkways have to be safe alternatives. I will advocate for safe options like the Rock Island and Santa Fe trails. Trails, walkways, and bike paths need to provide access to businesses, residential areas, and outdoor resources, so studying options for those would be a collaborative process allowing for different perspectives to be heard.
Parks & Open Space, Economy & Other
General Palmer's original vision for the city of Colorado Springs was that of a planned community, built around its natural beauty and environment. Do you agree with that vision, and if so, how do you plan to stay true to it?
I absolutely agree with this vision! Our natural resources and environment of the Pikes Peak region are what makes this city one of the best places to live. My efforts to stay true to this vision will include supporting collaborative efforts between non-profits, small businesses, and outdoor recreation groups to maintain access to these resources. My efforts will include advocating for responsible growth so we don't encroach on the very resources people are drawn to the area. Protecting open spaces, greenways and city parks, and reconsidering the use of LART will all be necessary to maintain Palmer's vision. Growth is inevitable and responsible decisions to manage growth is necessary.
What do you see as the current state of economic diversity, and where does the city have the opportunity to grow?
I believe Colorado Springs is a city that is starting to grow into its own with respect to attracting high quality employers from emerging industries. With that said, I think our biggest opportunity for growth is in the arena of creating alignment between the types of jobs that we want to recruit to town and how we are training our current and future work force. As a City Councilor, I would want to search for opportunities for our city to serve as a conduit between our K-12 and higher education systems and our business sector to strengthen relationships and ensure that there is alignment between what is taught in our classrooms and the future workforce needs of our city.
Is the city doing enough to address the issue of people experiencing homelessness? What, if anything, would you do differently?
For a cites our size we are doing far better than most, but clearly, the city needs to do more to take on homelessness. The best solutions around homelessness start by dignifying and humanizing the people who are affected by it. They are people - men and women, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters - who have been affected by tremendous tragedies. Sometimes this is of their own making, but oftentimes they are the victims of isolation, drug addiction, and mental health issues which have forced them into further tragedy. Our support must provide a “hand up” rather than a “hand out” that further enables homeless to live in deplorable, inhumane conditions. I believe we can do much better in providing pathways for people experiencing homelessness to get connected to mental health services that will help them heal and gain the well-being they need to take back their lives.
What is your stance on if and when to ask voters to retain funds that exceed the cap imposed by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR)?
I believe voters should only be asked for tax increases when there is a clear need for additional tax dollars and the government entity making the request of voters can clearly spell out the need and provide a detailed explanation for how those new tax dollars will be used to improve our community
Who are your top three campaign donors?
The O'Neil Group
Home Builders Association
Would you support city councilors receiving a living wage or salary as opposed to the annual stipend of $6,250?
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado Springs?
Would you support creating an independent board for Colorado Springs Utilities, rather than having council serve as the board?
Do you support Front Range Rail?
Do you support extending Constitution Avenue?
Is the city adequately addressing climate change and adaptation?
Do you support the ballot measure that extends the TOPS sales tax?
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