Colorado Springs mayoral candidate questionnaire: Andrew Dalby
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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 Colorado Springs mayoral seat. The short biography below is gleaned from the candidate’s response, their websites and other sources.
Andrew Dalby is a Colorado Springs native, small business owner and political newcomer. Dalby said the politics in the region have been run by the same people, "and (they) just rotate offices when they hit their term limits." In an interview with KOAA, he said that makes it difficult to have them be responsive to the citizens. Dalby calls himself a "small-government conservative" and has pledged to serve only one term if elected.
In the news:
Role and vision
What is your elevator pitch for why voters in Colorado Springs should choose you as the next mayor?
I am objectively the most qualified candidate and I’m not a career politician owned by the big developers. I managed a team of consultants that did systems engineering for clients including US Department of Defense, NJ Department of Corrections, Colorado Springs Utilities, Honda and Intuit. The establishment in this town has been in power since the turn of the century, and just rotate offices when they hit their term limits. If they were going to solve our problems, they would have. I have pledged not to run for re-election, because I want to serve, not rule. I am a native, small business owner, and have six kids I want to have the same opportunities I had, so I have a commitment to Colorado Springs. Others arrogantly say, “Colorado Springs needs me.” My family and I need Colorado Springs.
What do you see as the role and/or function of city government?
I am a small-government conservative. You can disagree with me at other levels, but city government is completely unnecessary. Black Forest may not be your cup of tea, but it isn’t a desolate, uninhabitable wasteland. When we live close together, economies of scale make a few things more efficient and effective when done collectively. The only legitimate functions of municipal government are Public Safety, Public Works, and Public Parks.
What is the number one challenge facing the next mayor of Colorado Springs, and how would you address it?
Getting the city out from under the control of the big developers. Since the turn of the century, Norwood has owned this town. They literally own half the real estate in the city limits and they are the ones who run and rule your life. Local government is composed of puppets who answer to them.
What is your vision for Colorado Springs in the next 25 years, and what realistic policies do you propose to get us there?
I don’t have a grand vision for Colorado Springs, because I’m not a dictatorial tyrant. I don’t have Denver envy unlike the current crop of politicians. I’d like to see more walkable, mixed use neighborhoods like the ones laid out by General Palmer 120-150 years ago, and less developer-driven Ponzi-scheme “improvement-district” debt-financed ones. The book Strong Towns by Chuck Marohn goes into a lot of detail about how de-zoning and removing government regulations can allow construction of missing-middle homes and neighborhoods where transit makes sense. Getting city hall out of the details of every development would allow builders to create affordable housing. But where we go is up to you.
Law enforcement / Public Safety
What is the most pressing public safety issue facing the city and how would you address it?
Out-of-control crime. I would support our public safety officers unlike our current city council which recently voted to deny a firefighter a legal defense after he was involved in a tragic incident. That sends a message, and is why we can’t recruit or retain enough police officers. I have always opposed qualified immunity because no one is above the law. However, equally important is the belief that you are innocent until proven guilty. That applies equally to everyone. If I am elected mayor, I will ensure that the police treat every citizen with equal dignity and respect. Likewise, if a public safety officer is found guilty of a crime, they will be treated like any other criminal. However, until that time, they deserve the city’s support.
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 think in general, the cops are representative of the people and treat people equally. I went through CSPD citizens academy in 2018, before I was even considering running for mayor. It is a great resource for members of the community who are concerned about how the department is run. I support body cameras for accountability on both sides of any police encounter and would periodically review them to ensure that officers are treating all citizens with the respect they deserve.
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 is the most pro-cop big city in America. A large part of that is that we are a city of veterans, and a huge percentage of our population has served in uniform or has someone close to them who has. Of course, there is always room for improvement. I’ve been married for 24 years, and I keep working on that relationship. It is critical for every citizen to know that policing their community is something they are a part of, it’s not something being done to them.
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?
I believe in civilian oversight of every area of government. We cannot have a government for the people unless it is by the people and of the people. However, we can’t start with the assumption that cops are the problem. Policing is a community effort and cops are citizens and citizens are cops.
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 lived for 15 years in Mountain Shadows. The Waldo Canyon Fire came within a few hundred feet of my house. Being burned alive was outlawed by the Constitution’s cruel and unusual punishment clause, it shouldn’t be revived by an uncaring city government that is only concerned about developer dollars. Bill Wysong of Mountain Shadows HOA and Dana Dugan of Westside Watch have been tireless advocates of ensuring that all citizens have adequate evacuation routes.
How do you define sustainable and responsible growth, and is the city successful in growing responsibly and sustainably?
Sustainable and responsible growth means that we have enough resources for all our citizens to thrive and live according to their own choices. It’s not up to me to tell you how to live. Right now housing costs are outrageous. The old rule of thumb is that you can afford a house that is approximately three times your annual income. Unless you’re making $150k and have $100k in cash laying around, that’s not happening. For perspective, the job of Mayor doesn’t pay enough to buy the median home in Colorado Springs.
What different approach would you take, if any, to help address housing affordability?
I would take development decisions out of know-nothing busybody politicians who are bought and paid for by developers and return them to the people. I would de-zone the city. Development rights should be held in trust by each neighborhood, so they people who are affected by potential development would be the ones voting on it and getting the economic benefit by selling those rights if they choose.
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?
Let people make their own decisions. It isn’t up to me to tell you how to live. There is a lot of land between Powers and the Eastern edge of the county. We’ve got room to grow as long as new development pays its own way and ensures we aren’t depleting our common resources. Denser, walkable, mixed-use, multimodal transit, infill neighborhoods can be a great addition to our housing mix if people want to live in them, builders can build them profitably, and they aren’t imposed from above by politicians and developers.
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?
It’s completely bogus. It was done to ensure a monopoly by the biggest developer in town and has no bearing on whether we’ll have enough water in the future. Just like the city changes zoning to benefit developers against the wishes of the neighborhood, this ordinance will only last as long as it is beneficial to the political donors. I won’t be bought by donors, because I am self-funded and I pledge to not run for re-election. Your water belongs to you. All development will be treated equally if I am elected mayor.
How do you balance maintaining the character of Colorado Springs with the need for development? What is the character of Colorado Springs?
We need to de-zone the city. Each neighborhood should be responsible for determining what development they want in their neighborhood. At a half-million residents, we are too diverse of a city to have one character. The Broadmoor is not Old Colorado City is not Banning Lewis Ranch is not Pikes Peak Park.
Transportation / Infrastructure
What is the most important infrastructure project needed in Colorado Springs right now, and how would you address it?
Despite having passed 2C and PPRTA multiple times, our roads are not in good shape. We need to maintain what we have before we entertain grandiose dreams of the future.
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?
We are a heavily car-dependent city. Part of that is due to density, part due to poor political decisions. I commuted by bike for about a decade, before the trail system became unsafe. We should allow multimodal transit where it makes sense, but bike lanes on Research Parkway are stupid. Our current bus system is a compliance system. It exists to get federal grants, not to be used. The routes and schedule make it nearly impossible to use as an actual means of transportation, and as a result the buses run empty. I’d like to see a self-sustaining automated trolley system where it makes sense.
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 commuted by bike for years. Nearly everyone walks somewhere. God gave you two legs. Unless you’re disabled, they are and should be your primary means of locomotion. City design should be designed for humans, but most of us like cars. What is not OK is lies masquerading as access like the current replacement of city sidewalks. The sidewalks in my neighborhood have side slopes for every driveway and mailboxes in the middle. That sidewalk is not designed to be used. But it still got certified as ADA compliant.
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 often say that Colorado Springs was founded by a civil engineer and it shows. Those areas of town laid out by Palmer are desirable, sustainable and walkable. When developers got control of things, we got streets that change names and direction or dead end into shopping malls. The term for what we have is stroads, which aren’t designed either for humans or facilitate traffic flow, they’re designed to force you into shopping centers owned by the developers. Of course, Palmer had his problems too. He laid out the division between North and South as Pikes Peak Avenue which dead ends into the hotel he founded. Overall, I’d like to return to a vision much more aligned with what Palmer originally laid out. Conveniently, many of the areas that border Palmer’s original design are reaching their designed obsolescence point and are ripe for redevelopment.
What do you see as the current state of economic diversity, and where does the city have the opportunity to grow?
We are a relatively business-friendly city. Taxes and regulations are reasonable, and as a result, we have a fairly robust small business ecosystem. I would get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers which always benefits their sponsors, but does nothing for the rest of us. Public/Private Partnerships never work. My first job after getting my MS degree was at the MCI facility at the end of Garden of the Gods Road. It was built using tax dollars, with the promise of bringing in lucrative tech jobs. Bernie Ebbers took the money and ran, so it has sat empty for decades. The El Paso County Citizens Service Center, just a few blocks away was built at your expense as a Rockwell factory. When that shut down, we paid to remodel it as an Intel factory. The county took it over because economic development dictated by politicians is just reverse robin-hood, stealing from the poor to give to the rich, and when they’ve taken what they can get, they move on to their next victim.
Is the city doing enough to address the issue of people experiencing homelessness? What, if anything, would you do differently?
Look at any city park for the answer. We are experiencing an epidemic of homelessness, and we aren’t doing anything about it. Homelessness in Colorado Springs is not a supply issue. There are more beds available than people sleeping on the streets. People are unhoused by choice, and because people have free will, none of us can make better choices on their behalf. What we can do is encourage them to make better choices. You do not have the right to start fires or destroy our waterways with litter and feces. You do not have the right to camp or be intoxicated in public. You do not have the right to make our parks and open space unsafe. I will enforce the laws, and hold the homeless accountable for their choices. Which will encourage them to access the resources available to 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)?
Never. The whole point of TABOR is that tax REVENUES naturally increase as population and prices increase. We don’t need to increase tax RATES ever. You can afford a bigger house and a nicer car if you get a raise, but if you try to spend a bigger and bigger percentage of your income on things, you will always go broke no matter how much you make.
Who are your top three campaign donors?
Me, Myself, and I. Literally 99% of my campaign funds came out of my own pocket. A few close friends and family members have given me some support, but I am self-funded so you know I don’t owe anyone but the voters.
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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