Colorado Springs at-large council candidate questionnaire: Roland Rainey Jr.
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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.
Public safety is at the top of retired U.S. Air Force officer Roland Rainey's priorities list. The 14-year resident of Colorado Springs formerly worked as a defense contractor, CSU Pueblo adjunct professor and founder of the Colorado Springs Cyclones semi-professional football organization. He’s served on the boards of Colorado Springs World Affairs Council, Banning Lewis Academy and volunteered for other community groups. He has master's degrees from UCCS and CSU and other certifications.
Role and vision
What is your elevator pitch for why voters in Colorado Springs should choose you as the next at-large council representative?
During these unique times, we need a community leader with fresh eyes, fresh perspective, innovative vision, and extraordinary energy to address concerns and issues impacting our city and its citizens. I have served my community with impactful volunteer work and led various organizations around our city (World Affairs Council Board of Directors, El Paso County Citizen Outreach Group, Banning Lewis Academy Board of Directors, and the 4th District Judicial Nominating Commission). I was recognized for my volunteer efforts with the President's Volunteer Service Award. I plan to leverage my successes and experiences to help our city flourish and move into the future. I believe it’s our city’s responsibility to help create an environment to make our citizens’ life better, help ensure families feel safe in their communities, continue to enhance the beauty of our city for all to enjoy, while providing opportunities for families and our kids to thrive right here in Colorado Springs. Ready to work for you!
What do you see as the role and/or function of city government?
Public Safety (Police and Fire); Public Works (water, waste, electricity); Public Health; Economic Development; Infrastructure; Community Vitality
What is the number one challenge facing the next council of Colorado Springs, and how would you address it?
Public Safety is the top issue and addressing our outrageously increasing crime rate, while simultaneously focusing on our Police Officer recruitment problem. At the root of this issue is re-establishing trust between local elected officials and public servants charged with serving and protecting the citizens of Colorado Springs. First, we need to address the recruitment issue by ensuring new hires/recruits their department and local government supports them 100% while performing their duties in accordance with the law. Secondly, we need to conduct year-round recruitment from various organizations (i.e., military law enforcement units, local community security units, and Pikes Peak Job Fairs). Third, a roundtable between Police Officers and all local elected officials is needed to rebuild trust and understand the concerns of officers.
What is your vision for Colorado Springs in the next 25 years, and what realistic policies do you propose to get us there?
Honestly, laying out a vision right now for the next 25 years is unrealistic due to the rate of population growth and the fluctuating economy we are experiencing. Also, at the rate technology is evolving, I foresee our day-to-day quality of life drastically changing. However, I can tell you within my first year, I will work with and support the Chief of Police to identify ways to bring CSPD manpower back to appropriate levels. Also, within the first year, I want our city to determine the best way to address affordable housing with a collaborative effort between stakeholders and city agencies. Lastly, within three years of being in office I would like to see the initial framework to address the projection of retiring Nixon Power Plant.
Law enforcement / Public Safety
What is the most pressing public safety issue facing the city and how would you address it?
The 22% increase in homicides in 2022, coupled with the rise in gang violence in our region must be addressed with the appropriate level of tactics and technology to decrease crime and murders. Once CSPD manpower has returned to nominal levels, I would like to see investments in advanced criminal investigative technology to establish Colorado Springs as the top safest city in America.
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 audit did not highlight any significant systemic issues within the department and it was a reflection of the type of professional officers our department possess. Its comparison of CSPD best practices and standards compared to other cities contained positive results. The audit did highlight the need to update documentation and reinforce policies and training, such as de-escalation techniques, which during the time of the report was a major topic across the nation. I do not believe no significant changes are needed to the way CSPD operates at this time, but much like the officers requested, I recommend continued transparency and recurring supervisory training so our officers and their leadership skills remain sharp.
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?
Let’s be honest with ourselves as a community…the relationship is strained and we must come to grips on the reasons why. First, we must acknowledge the perfect storm of events that led to many officers resigning their positions: 1.) Colorado Police Reform, 2.) Devon Bailey shooting, 3.) George Floyd murder and protests across the country, 4.) Realigning jail system, 5.) COVID. These collective events put officers deeper in harm’s way, while simultaneously wrestling with the notion that their local government may not be supporting them as public servants. Also, the increase in protests against police officers severely fractured community trust. We need to establish a recurring public round table allowing officers and citizens to converse about the state of affairs regarding crime in neighborhoods.
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?
City Council approved the formation of the group in July 2020 with the overall goal of improving police and community relationships. This commission can only add to the requested transparency that many officers requested. I would require a quarterly round table between the group and officers from various offices within the department to keep up effective communication and report status of community issues. This should not be a commission aimed to finding ever little problem with the department, but it should be used to build bridges between the community and police department.
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?
I concur with our citizens and believe detailing a well-structured emergency evacuation action plan (EEAP) would allow our citizens to build a better contingency plan for relocating for long durations, taking action on preserving their valuables and property, and CLEARLY understanding the evacuation routes once the order has been given to depart their homes. We also need to evaluate new developments impact on evacuation routes and departure timelines. I would like to see a concentrated effort to equip our Emergency Operations Center with more advanced communication and event monitoring technology.
How do you define sustainable and responsible growth, and is the city successful in growing responsibly and sustainably?
Colorado Springs population is growing at a faster rate than the actual state of Colorado. Moreover, El Paso County is the most populated county in Colorado. This growth, along with poor crime legislature, has made Colorado #1 in Motor Vehicle Thefts in the nation, while Colorado Springs Police Department reported an all-time high in violent crime in 2022. While attractive cities grow due to economic opportunities, we also need to be cognizant of the impact to public safety, especially in the downtown areas. Infill development can be appeasing and aid in responsible growth by bringing new buildings in to replace empty lots or abandoned buildings (locations where criminal activities thrive) helping to eliminate urban blight. Infill development will help raise land values, increase tax revenue, bring new clientele to local businesses, and expand our job base. As a council member, I want to work with home builders and local government agencies to identify collective solutions for housing that can support responsible growth.
What different approach would you take, if any, to help address housing affordability?
As a limited government advocate, I would recommend the city doesn’t get directly involved in shaping models for affordable housing. A fluctuating economy and inflation have driven the high costs in the housing market. Let’s understand affordable housing is a market driven issue and we need to allow the free market to operate and answer the supply and demand of affordable housing with the least amount of government interference. In addition, we need to continue to allow Developers to work with the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office to build affordable housing, while leveraging various HUD programs to help low-income households locate affordable housing and pay rent.
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 development can be appeasing and aid in responsible growth by bringing new buildings in to replace empty lots or abandoned buildings (locations where criminal activities thrive) helping to eliminate urban blight. Infill development will help raise land values, increase tax revenue, bring new clientele to local businesses, and expand our job base. As a council member, I want to work with home builders and local government agencies to identify collective solutions for housing that can support responsible 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?
While the 128 percent water rule could be looked upon as unnecessary by some, I currently support placing a specific number on water supply requirements prior to new annexation. This water rule is set in complex modeling taking into account various elements, such as historical water data, current demand, and projection of future needs due to population growth. Because this equation is not an exact science due to the fluctuation of demand and population growth, I also believe a bi-annual assessment of the Reliably Met Demand should be accomplished. Running water lines and other utilities outside the city from existing systems is an obstacle that possess many intricate pieces. For example, who would pay the associated costs for extending water lines to various neighborhoods outside the city? Also, who would pay for utility infrastructure that requires repairing and rehabilitating in support of extending utilities to these same neighborhoods? Forcing the citizens of Colorado Springs to foot the bill for those outside our city limits or raising taxing is not an option.
How do you balance maintaining the character of Colorado Springs with the need for development? What is the character of Colorado Springs?
This question is not as easy as it is written. Modernization development based on a city’s thriving economy versus the development need based on population growth both have varying strategic objectives. A city’s look can change based on technological advances and architectural modernization, but it’s the community and the heart of generations that live here that is the core of its character. The character of the city is captured in its many different features across the Pikes Peak region. Features such as canyons, forests, plains, streams, lakes, etc., make up the natural setting, which bonds our citizens with the natural beauty and activities that the outdoors provide for living and recreation.
Transportation / Infrastructure
What is the most important infrastructure project needed in Colorado Springs right now, and how would you address it?
Right now major roadways such as Academy, Powers, and Marksheffel, are critical for our citizens to commute to their jobs in and around our city. However, the rapid population growth has made these roadways extremely congested and commute times has nearly doubled for many. Thus, it is impacting how families function daily, especially families that must work the logistics of dropping kids off to school and be to work on time. The City Planning Commission and PPTRA must assess traffic patterns, and with other stakeholders to determine effective ways to open traffic flow.
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?
Transportation options could be better for a city our size. We need to look at other potential options such as streetcars, commuter trains, trolleys, etc.
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?
Bicycles and walking will continue to have a special place in our beautiful city for recreation and commuting purposes for some. I love walking our trails and taking my bicycle out for a nice ride. We need to assess all transportation options.
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?
Colorado Springs will always be known for its natural beauty, but like many citizens, I too am concerned about overcrowding and the need to preserve our open spaces. While development is critical to the growth of any city, we need to ensure city agencies, commissions, and all other stakeholders make preservation a top priority when developing land.
What do you see as the current state of economic diversity, and where does the city have the opportunity to grow?
Our city is growing and advancing its diverse employment sectors, especially in the Aerospace Industry, based on their support to the five local military installations. But now with the addition of the Switchbacks Soccer team, a thriving Colorado College Hockey Team, minor league baseball and football, sports management and medicine is in great demand. Moreover, our city is attracting many visitors to Olympic City, so we have an opportunity to grow support infrastructure in the hospitality industry.
Is the city doing enough to address the issue of people experiencing homelessness? What, if anything, would you do differently?
While the number of homeless is increasing, to include homeless camps, I believe we need to re-examine how homelessness is addressed in our city. Far too often, we count on and expect our undermanned Police Department to eradicate homelessness through enforcement. As citizens, we have witnessed that this does not have the true effect we desire…homeless citizens just move to another location in the city. I would like to see a City-Wide Task-Force Effort consisting of multiple agencies that can explore various solutions to address homelessness by examining successful programs from around the globe (i.e. London’s Buses4Homeless Program) that Colorado Springs may be able to take tips from.
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 support TABOR. TABOR is Colorado’s unique tax and spend protection that provides an additional check and balance on state and local government, ensuring Colorado citizens have a voice in the execution of taxpayer money. As someone who believes in limited government, this check and balance is essential to prevent unnecessary expansion and abuse of government. As your City Councilman, I would exercise due diligence with my colleagues to assess critical City projects impacting our citizens that require their vote to use any portion of excess revenue. Much like the Wildland Fire Mitigation Fund, where voters allowed the city to retain $20 million in excess revenue over the TABOR Cap, to be used by the Colorado Springs Fire Department to enhance wildland fire mitigation efforts in and around the city. It is critical that this same diligent approach is used as we Council members assess City requirements.
Who are your top three campaign donors?
Candidate did not answer.
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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