Colorado Springs at-large council candidate questionnaire: Glenn Carlson

Colorado Springs at-large council candidate Glenn Carlson.

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.

Former president of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, Glenn Carlson is a Colorado Springs native. Currently the owner of two massage therapy clinics, he’s also been involved in real estate, technology and the automotive industries. His priorities include focusing on economy, infrastructure, safety, parks and open space. Carlson holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Colorado College. He’s previously run for City Council, coming in second for the District 1 seat in 2021 and coming in fifth for an At-Large seat in 2015.

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 COS native; I have lived, worked, volunteered, and played here my entire life. This is home, simply put. Having experience working in a global leadership capacity for Colorado’s largest company and now running our own business with our 35 employees, I see firsthand what concerns and challenges people face. I have a responsibility to utilize my skillsets, energy, and creativity to leave COS better than I found it.

What do you see as the role and/or function of city government?

Our city plays a huge role in our lives here. To summarize, our city government has a responsibility to ensure we have infrastructure, public safety, outdoor spaces, a thriving economy, transportation, and our utility to name a few.

What is the number one challenge facing the next council of Colorado Springs, and how would you address it?

Our number one challenge is finding a way to keep our COS way of life and all the things we love about COS while acknowledging our inevitable growth. It is at the intersection of these two where our greatest challenges lie, especially with regards to energy, water, future development, infill, etc.

What is your vision for Colorado Springs in the next 25 years, and what realistic policies do you propose to get us there?

The beloved town I was born and raised in has turned into a city. While I yearn for the "olden days", I also understand this is a great place and people want to be here. I believe we need to ensure we have water to serve this growth, first and foremost. Secondly, I want to ensure we grow responsibly while having respect for our city's most precious areas and neighborhoods.

Law enforcement / Public Safety

What is the most pressing public safety issue facing the city and how would you address it?

As mentioned above, COS is officially a big city now and we now have big city issues. I believe we need to continue to focus on public safety, especially with regards to the recent increase in property crimes. We have seen progress with our public/private partners with regards to homelessness and need to continue to invest in these relationships as well.

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?

I believe the audit, along with LETAC, are great first steps to understand our use of force and how we can improve. Without going back and examining incidents, how can hope to improve them? Many of the officers have requested further training on use of force and this is critical as well. Ultimately, I believe transparency and a focus on continual improvement is the best path forward here.

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?

I would characterize this relationship as evolving. While I believe we have improved that relationship locally, it's hard to ignore the breakdowns at the national level. I believe we should ALWAYS focus on improving this relationship, regardless of the level of tension throughout the nation. Appointing well-rounded, intelligent leaders to lead these organizations is also a key function I'd like to have a part in.

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?

As mentioned above, I believe LETAC is a good first step and I would say, in the grand scheme of things, we are still learning how effective a commission like LETAC can be. Be transparent, be ready to learn, be ready to adjust.

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?

Unfortunately, the jury is still out on the "best" system to use for these hazards. I'd like to press for trial contracts on many of these solutions and try them out. Let's run tests with these products like we would anything else and see what works best.


How do you define sustainable and responsible growth, and is the city successful in growing responsibly and sustainably?

I believe growth can be good when modest and logical. What we have seen in recent years has been hard for many to adjust to as the economy was put on steroids coming out of the pandemic. Alongside constrained supply chains, we got inflation. When we have this explosive growth I believe it is critical to protect neighborhoods, communities, and things that give COS our identity. Growth at all costs does not equal high quality of life, which is what most people aim to maximize.

What different approach would you take, if any, to help address housing affordability?

The single largest lever to pull here is increasing interest rates in the battle to fight inflation. Nothing robs your purchasing power faster than inflation. In addition, though most people call is appreciation when it comes to housing, it has simply been inflation. I believe we need to keep increasing interest rates, which has already helped push home prices down.

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?

Balance is the key here! The endless sprawl is not the answer, nor is endless infill. Much of city council work is based on land-use. There are different criteria with each and every project and they must all be studied thoroughly.

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?

Though it may seem like an arbitrary number, there is math behind this. I spoke to the Mayor at length about this very issue recently. Our region, along with the entire southwest US, has used more water than we anticipated AND grown faster at the same time. Hence, why we see the major issues with the Colorado River Basin and catastrophically low water levels in places like Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Not only are these critical water reservoirs, but the water flowing through them provides power for much of the SW. There is real fear of Federal curtailments upstream that, regardless of water rights, would put is in a very bad situation at current conditions, much less if we annexed other communities. We need to rethink our long-term water planning, along with other major stakeholders. This is something I will push for and it needed to start yesterday.

How do you balance maintaining the character of Colorado Springs with the need for development? What is the character of Colorado Springs?

Our character is formed by our neighborhoods and communities. Keeping the citizens involved and working together to build our collective vision of our city is the best way to achieve this.

Transportation / Infrastructure

What is the most important infrastructure project needed in Colorado Springs right now, and how would you address it?

I'm going to lump in our utility with infrastructure for the sake of this argument. I believe we need to work on a long-term water plan, alongside the entire western US. I also believe we can continue to innovate and push for cleaner, more affordable energy.

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?

I believe public transportation is really driven by two factors. a) We must provide a level of public transportation to those that rely on it. Those with disabilities, unable to drive, or mental illness, for example. b) The second factor that I believe drives public transportation use is density thresholds. It is still relatively quick to get around town here, easy to park, and people simply prefer the freedom to drive, if possible. That being said, as our city grows and areas become denser, traffic will get worse, parking harder to do and more expensive, and people will then begin to yearn for alternative transportation methods. I believe there are areas approaching this threshold, but not quite yet.

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?

I do believe we need to couple this desire with the importance of more parks and greenways. We don't need to be a concrete town. I will push for creative thinking in these departments and ask for more creative options to solving common issues.

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 agree with this 100%. Our views and outdoor spaces are our greatest assets. I have fought for them for years as the President of the Trails and Open Space Coalition and will always fight to create, preserve, and protect them.

What do you see as the current state of economic diversity, and where does the city have the opportunity to grow?

I believe we have an opportunity to further diversify our economy. We have many great “selling” points for employers wishing to expand/locate to COS and we need to be a business friendly city so we can compete. Our economy is still heavily reliant on DoD and/or tourism and I believe we have more to offer. With my background in tech, for example, and the recent passage of the CHIPS act, we should be attacking opportunities for tech expansion.

Is the city doing enough to address the issue of people experiencing homelessness? What, if anything, would you do differently?

According to the latest data, we have made great progress in homelessness recently. Our public/private partnerships have yielded positive results and we must continue this great work alongside our community partners.

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 transparency is the best practice here. If we have a need for the extra funds, ask voters, be clear about it, and live with the results.

Who are your top three campaign donors?

In order and easy to understand for ya, but there are really two groups. Climate Cabinet has donated $2500 to us for our support of climate-related issues. The rest of my donors are a mixture of neighbors, friends, residents, and family with donations ranging from $20 all the way to $500.

Quick responses

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?