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.
Jaymen C. Johnson has been a Colorado Springs resident for 22 years, mostly in District 3 on the city’s westside. As an entrepreneur he opened the now closed Speakeasy Vape Lounge and Cannabis Club and other businesses. He’s made a point of attending and often speaking at nearly every City Council meeting for the last eight years and advocates for a more diverse, accessible, and transparent city government. Johnson threw his name in the hat for a previous council election in 2017, but withdrew before the ballots were printed.
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?
I am often asked why people should vote for me and my answer is typically that I am not entirely sure you should, that is a choice best left to the individual. What I am certain of is that you must elect representation that you feel best reflects you with the greatest capability of crafting policy and make decisions with you in mind. I would certainly like to think that's me. I consider myself a common person with slightly above common sense and capabilities. Possessing a high level of empathy and reasoning. I am a solution seeker by nature. I do more than listen, I hear, and that is an important distinction. I have a way of communicating the ramifications of situations and decisions in a way that allows most to comprehend more fully. I am a strong proponent for communication and transparency.
What do you see as the role and/or function of city government?
To facilitate the equitable and safe opportunity for every individual and community under its jurisdiction to prosper by their own efforts.
What is the number one challenge facing the next council of Colorado Springs, and how would you address it?
Managing sustainable growth now and into the perceivable future. I would address this by bringing together the citizens along with our community partners in development in order to address housing attainability and redefine what it is to be affordable. I would promote measures that slowed the sprawl and focused on infill and renewal. And I would measure growth against our civic staff and not just our natural resources in order to assure we are not stretching our police, fire and other services too thin.
What is your vision for Colorado Springs in the next 25 years, and what realistic policies do you propose to get us there?
I would be happy if in my time on the council I helped to craft a more inclusive and more accessible dais. I want to see the council wage raised to a livable wage not for myself but so that future citizens who may be passionate and want to run for council can find it more feasible. If you want a council that understands the burdens of trying to balance a mortgage, car payments and raising kids then you have to provide a salary that someone currently experiencing those burdens could survive on. That's how you achieve the most well-rounded and accurate representation. That is how you get representation that understands you.
Law enforcement / Public Safety
What is the most pressing public safety issue facing the city and how would you address it?
Without a doubt we do not possess the police and fire personnel needed to serve our ever expanding city. I would examine the salaries and benefits of our first responders against those of similar municipalities as well as the cost of living locally and advocate for adjustment where needed. I would also amend the requirements of metro and special districts to include mill levies for emergency service personnel. Why should we continue to award these special statuses based on the addition of parks and landscaping that only further serves to sell their properties while confounding the public perceptions of the distribution of city resources when the logic is simple? If you add rooftops to our city you should also help to extend our city services.
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?
The use of force among law enforcement has become all the more centralized in recent times. People are becoming increasingly aware of the abuse inherent within the criminal justice system and Colorado Springs is not withstanding. However, when I make comparisons I believe that we are doing much better than other regions throughout the country as well as the rest of the state. I will work diligently to make sure our city takes accountability for our actions now and into the future.
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?
More can always be done. I would like to see an advisory board for the police department composed of both current and past service officers along with citizens from throughout the city to discuss and advise the department and make suggestions for best practices for civic engagement.
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 has done well and I appreciate their service but I would like to see an advisory board more like the one I described in my answer to the previous question.
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?
We should identify the neighborhoods and regions with the highest danger and begin establishing advisory boards consisting of community members and emergency service personnel to determine comprehensive evacuation plans for each community. Prioritizing locations by greatest danger and starting at the fringes while working our way towards the center.
How do you define sustainable and responsible growth, and is the city successful in growing responsibly and sustainably?
Candidate did not answer.
What different approach would you take, if any, to help address housing affordability?
I think our focus needs to be on infill and renewal and that we should make consideration of any future annexation contingent on the developer first selecting an approved infill project. I believe this would go a long way towards reining in the sprawl and metering new development against renewal in order to provide greater balance and more affordable attainable units throughout the 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 for me means a use of current infrastructure while bringing our connections and utility hook ups up to date as to provide greater efficiency and save money. As I stated previously I would meter annexations against infill to provide greater balance and more sustainable and equitable growth.
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?
An adequate water supply is a real concern and I recognize the responsibility we have not only to the current and future residents of our city but to our neighbors in the surrounding region, but like some on council expressed, I did not see a danger so imminent that more time and attention couldn't be afforded the matter. I know that some on council requested to see how the 130% recommendation was determined but I have not seen the results of those requests yet. Without seeing how they came to this delineation it's hard for me to say for certain that I agree with it. I did agree with the 128% compromise agreed to by council under the firm belief that it could be amended or reversed later. I am strongly opposed to any measure that might create a de facto monopoly on new developments unless it were completely necessary. However my real great concern with this matter is how we can create policies that are not in concert with the county. It seems like many complications would arise if we did not have a uniform policy in place and that we would be just pushing development further and further out.
How do you balance maintaining the character of Colorado Springs with the need for development? What is the character of Colorado Springs?
Colorado Springs is a big city with small-town denial. I can relate, as I have gotten older I have not wanted to admit how much I've let myself go either. We desire more rooftops than high-rises and I completely concur. However, we must balance the practical needs against the preservation of our small-town aesthetics and beautiful natural landscape. This means infill and renewal projects should include robust public comment and input.
Transportation / Infrastructure
What is the most important infrastructure project needed in Colorado Springs right now, and how would you address it?
I think we need a deep examination into our bridges and railways. We bring natural gas and other fuels through the heart of our city by rail in order to provide power through our utilities department and as we have seen recently our nation's bridges and railways are dangerously under maintained.
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?
Well I believe our public transportations is seriously lacking given the size of our city but there is no denying that our city was designed with the commuter in mind a long time ago and it will be difficult to change things at this point. That being said I would like to examine bus schedules and routes to see where services might be extended or increased.
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 am a strong proponent for multimodal and active-mode transportation but I am unsure that I would make it a primary focus per se but I would advocate for greater resources to be given if they were available.
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 it fully and credit this vision for why our city is such an appealing place to live today. I would start by ensuring that no more of our parks and open spaces become the property of private entities and special interests. I would plan development around the preservation of the natural environment. And I will focus efforts on much needed infill rather than expanding further and further out into our wildlands.
What do you see as the current state of economic diversity, and where does the city have the opportunity to grow?
I see a large and looming disparity with the majority of people residing among the moderately wealthy or deeply impoverished with very little in the way of what we might locally consider a middle class. I think we need to develop policies that encourage young professionals and the corporations they work for to see this city as somewhere they could both reside and work as opposed to residing here and working in Denver. This will bring with it greater economic growth and more employment opportunities to the region.
Is the city doing enough to address the issue of people experiencing homelessness? What, if anything, would you do differently?
No, there is not enough being done at this time to address the issue of homelessness. I want to expand mental health services in the city, not just for the homeless but for everyone. I want to take the burden of the homeless off our law enforcement officers by creating ancillary departments with limited authorities and set purview to act as mediary between the homeless and the services set up for them.
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)?
Candidate did not answer.
Who are your top three campaign donors?
I have received not accepted any campaign donations so far and have spent only $12 dollars in total on a domain name for my website. Which is www.JaymenJohnson4CityCouncil.com if you want to see if it that was money well spent.
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?
Southern Colorado is changing a lot these days. We can help you keep up. Sign up for the KRCC Weekly Digest here and get the stories that matter to Southern Colorado, delivered straight to your inbox.