Note: This questionnaire was submitted ahead of the April 2023 election.
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 Colorado Springs mayoral seat. The short biography below is gleaned from the candidate’s response, their websites and other sources.
Local businessman Yemi Mobolade co-founded Good Neighbors Meeting House and The Wild Goose Meeting House, among other endeavors. He also founded a church. In the public sector, Mobolade has been an advocate for small businesses with the city. He has also worked with the Chamber and Economic Development Corp.. Mobolade said he sees this role as an opportunity to "restore public trust in local government." He is a naturalized citizen and calls himself a political independent.
His business partner with Wild Goose and Good Neighbors, Russ Ware, was accused of financial mismanagement of a downtown Colorado Springs restaurant that closed, according to the Gazette. According to the article, Wild Goose Meeting House and Good Neighbors Meeting House filed police reports related to the allegations and moved to split ties with Ware.
Editor's note: This has been updated to clarify Mobolade's relationship with Russ Ware.
In the news:
Colorado Springs mayoral runoff: Voter guide | Mayoral candidates talk vision for the city, address voter doubts | Yemi Mobolade interview | Wayne Williams interview
Role and vision
What is your elevator pitch for why voters in Colorado Springs should choose you as the next mayor?
Our city needs my leadership experience. The stakes are high, therefore great leadership is needed. I am a husband to an ICU nurse and we are parents to three young kids. I own three businesses, co-founded the nonprofit COSILoveYou, and am the only candidate with experience working inside our city government. As an immigrant, small business owner, and family man, I am the product of the American Dream. However, the American Dream is becoming harder to achieve in Colorado Springs as our residents are experiencing growth pains related to safety, infrastructure, and economic vitality. While I am a political outsider, I am a seasoned city leader. President Reagan demonstrated that good governance doesn’t require experience on a ballot but the ability to bring the right people together to solve our city’s biggest challenges. That’s the experience I bring and what you can expect out of my Administration.
What do you see as the role and/or function of city government?
The institution of government is an instrument of grace to advance the common good, elevate human dignity, protect human rights, and promote public safety for all. Therefore the three primary responsibilities of city government as established by the City Charter pertain to the administration of Public Safety, Public Works and Public Parks. I believe city government is sometimes necessary, but it should not interfere where it is not needed. Solutions to city problems should be developed and employed as much as possible at the most local level. As mayor, I will work in partnership with residents, families, local businesses, churches, and non-profit organizations to champion local interests while minimizing reliance on government. When it’s needed, the city government must intervene with involvement scaling up gradually.
What is the number one challenge facing the next mayor of Colorado Springs, and how would you address it?
As stated above, the three primary responsibilities of your next Mayor pertain to Public Safety, Public Works and Public Parks. But there is a fourth “public” focus which is the number one challenge facing the next Mayor, namely Public Leadership. Leadership matters, especially given that overall public trust in government has fallen to “near historic lows.” I see immense opportunity, through courageous, compassionate, integrous, accessible, and transparent leadership, to restore public trust in local government, Addressing the growth pains related to safety, water, and zoning, requires a leader with more
than the right ideas, it requires the right leadership, experience, and a leader that is trustworthy. I will look at the issues with “fresh eyes” and facilitate civil conversations and productive solutions that will move our community forward.
What is your vision for Colorado Springs in the next 25 years, and what realistic policies do you propose to get us there?
Mayor John Suthers vision for Colorado Springs is to create a society that matches our scenery. I will build on that vision to create an inclusive, culturally rich, economically prosperous, safe, and a city on a hill that shines brightly. I have attended almost 70 meet and greets and my campaign has knocked on over 8,000 doors, and the consistent questions that I am hearing include:
- Are my family and neighborhood safe?
- Do we have the infrastructure to keep up with our rapid growth?
- Can I afford to live in this city?
Therefore, my top three priorities as mayor are:
- Safety – Protect our families and keep our neighborhoods safe, as well as prevent and
- Infrastructure – Bring housing within reach for all Colorado Springs residents and ensure
Colorado Springs has the water resources for today and tomorrow.
- Economic Vitality – Build a business-friendly city and create a future-ready workforce.
Law enforcement / Public Safety
What is the most pressing public safety issue facing the city and how would you address it?
The data reflecting our public safety realities are alarming. From 2015 to 2020, violent crime rates rose by 35%, higher than “peer cities” and surpassing the national average. Property crimes, hate crimes, and domestic violence have also increased. To address crime and improve incident response time, I will equip our officers with the best tools and training, including crisis intervention training, and tools to effectively address mental health issues. To address our 70-person police staffing shortage, I will add more police academy training classes and bolster recruitment efforts, concentrating especially on women and under-represented minorities. I will also ensure we are closing the back door by preventing early retirement and improving retention, and I will invest resources to boost morale within the police department through:
- Recognition for exemplary performance
- Leadership development and additional training
- Encouraging work-life balance.
In order to strengthen public safety, I will specifically do the following:
- Partner with policymakers and nonprofit providers focusing on expanding mental health care and substance abuse treatment to the community.
- Restart the Youth Advisory Council, a program to engage high school juniors and seniors to advise the police chief and help to address youth issues.
- Provide economic opportunities through programs like Thrive Network and Transforming Safety which prevent crime and drug use through community development and entrepreneurship.
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?
First, I am proud of Colorado Springs Police Department’s (CSPD) leadership in their pursuit of transparency, hiring an outside consulting group to take an honest look into the department’s use of force, including demographic data and potential disparities. While the report reveals CSPD to be a strong leader among its peers in following best practices, including having policies consistent with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a key area of improvement is related to the use of force/pointing of firearms. Results showed that Black residents are 1.3 times more likely to have a firearm pointed at them by the CSPD and 1.3 times more likely to have use of force against them relative to White arrestees. Similarly, Hispanic residents are 1.7 times more likely to have a firearm pointed at them by CSPD and 1.2 times more likely to have use of force against them, relative to White arrestees.
I agree wholeheartedly with Chief Vasquez and many CSPD officers who have expressed a desire for increased transparency and more training around the use of force. A recent survey of CSPD officers revealed that more than 80% officers need more training on nonlethal weapons, defensive tactics, crisis intervention and de-escalation. And more than 90% said they wanted training using shoot-don’t-shoot scenarios. I am proud to live in a city where our police officers are proactive in their efforts to better serve the community. As mayor, I will work closely with Chief Vasquez and his team to ensure we are equipping our officers with the best tools and training.
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?
The last three years have been tough for law enforcement. Improper use of force by some has positively resulted in greater accountability and better policing for all. However, political pressures have put undue stress on officers, leading to an unprecedented police shortage as many are quitting and retiring early. And still public sentiment and support for Colorado Springs law enforcement officers is higher than most US cities as evident in a recent survey of CSPD officers. 72% of respondents agreed that there was trust between the CSPD and the community, believed that CSPD has more trust and support from the community than police agencies nationally, and felt that it was a good place to work.
A strong relationship of mutual trust between CSPD and the community members is important to prevent crime, as well as maintain public safety and effective policing. And while public support for CSPD is high, there is opportunity to improve and promote community trust in CSPD, particularly among our minority residents. I plan to invest in and expand upon programs that encourage stronger relationships between law enforcement officers and our community, such as the Police Athletic League (PAL), the Illumination Project, Play COS, and the Youth Advisory Council. I contributed to the development of a similar program that now serves our community - the Pikes Peak United Way’s Productive Dialogue - and I would like to see programs like this continue to unite our city.
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 formed in September 2020. The group is aimed at improving community relationships with the police department and offering policy recommendations to City Council. LETAC has successfully lobbied to increase funding and staffing for the city's Crisis Response Teams which address the frequent users of the 911 system, including mental health emergencies. LETAC has also supported the Transparency Matters study evaluating CSPD's use of force policies, and encouraged the implementation of eight recommendations with specific action steps to improve the department.
However, LETAC has often been accused of having “no teeth,” power, or influence. The members are strictly volunteers making recommendations to city council, but city council has no oversight of CSPD because they report to the mayor’s office. This criticism presents an area of opportunity for the mayor to engage the work of LETAC. As mayor, I will welcome LETAC’s participation and stakeholder input to ensure a strong relationship of mutual trust between CSPD and the community members. Another area of opportunity is to ensure we are recruiting volunteers with public safety background and experiences to LETAC. A healthy board is made of up diversity of expertise and experiences relative to the mission and vision of the organization/team.
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?
Wildfires in Colorado Springs are an ongoing threat to our community, therefore I will work to ensure the safety of our families and neighborhoods. The City is continually making strides in evacuation planning and emergency systems to ensure our residents are adequately prepared in the case of a wildfire.
COS Ready, a collaboration between the Colorado Springs Fire Department, Colorado Springs Police Department, and the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, is a new system and one stop shop that organizes our evacuation zones, better equips our first responders, and prepares our community members for emergencies. By signing up for Peak Alerts, knowing one’s zone, and making a plan, COS Ready will help residents be prepared for a wildfire event.
The strength in collaboration among the City’s public safety agencies was instrumental in the response to the complex Waldo Canyon Fire. As mayor, I will continue to strengthen this collaborative effort for the safety of our families, listening to their concerns and welcoming their input on the solutions.
How do you define sustainable and responsible growth, and is the city successful in growing responsibly and sustainably?
Growth is inevitable. The question is not whether Colorado Springs will grow; that has already been decided for us. The opportunity in front of us is to decide how Colorado Springs should grow. The concern is if Colorado Springs will grow irresponsibly given that our resources are not without limits. I have hosted almost 70 meet and greets with our local residents and the concern I hear consistently is if Colorado Springs has the infrastructure to keep up with our increasing growth? Our city is at a turning point in its history, particularly in regard to managing our recent growth, planning for the future, and providing the necessary infrastructure in terms of water, roads, public safety, and housing.
As mayor, I will promote responsible growth, guided by intelligent and sustainable principles that strengthen our city infrastructure, so we can meet existing city demand and prepare for an expanding population. As we work to build communities and neighborhoods, I will lead in a socially responsible, environmentally sustainable, and economically prosperous way. And as we make decisions around mix-land use options, diverse housing opportunities, preserving our open spaces, and connecting our roadways, I will invite public participation and welcome diverse stakeholder input.
What different approach would you take, if any, to help address housing affordability?
In 2019, 71% of the homes in COS were affordable. Today only 24% of homes are affordable to the median household. The impact of this new reality affects the pillars of our community, including our fire-fighters, law enforcement officers, teachers, and military personnel. In addition, Colorado Springs is still short about 12,000 homes, and the median cost of a home is $410,900. While there is no silver bullet to fix this critical issue, I am proud of the many efforts to date exhibited by various organizations and community leadership. However, there is an opportunity for our city government to lead in a way that ensures a coordinated effort across the entire city. As mayor I will:
- Work with philanthropy and foundations to establish a “missing-middle housing fund” to support housing innovation for residents that make $50k-$100K a year.
- Ensure the same tax rebates to new corporations that move to town are also available to affordable housing projects.
- Increase long-term funding and incentives to bring down the cost of housing development and increase the housing supply.
- Appoint a Chief Housing Officer who will develop our public-private partnerships opportunities, advance our city’s housing priorities, and help expedite the process for attainable and affordable housing projects.
- Proactively recruit new companies that will provide well paying jobs to our residents.
- Increase workforce development efforts in high paying, in-demand jobs for critical industries and launch a citywide reskilling program to close the skills gap and help raise family income earnings.
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?
As mayor I plan to implement flexibility in zoning policy (RetoolCOS) to encourage mixed-use development, infill development, more density, and to maximize existing water and sewer infrastructure. In contrast to sprawling housing developments, infill development is a successful and necessary strategy to address the increased need for affordable housing within the City.
Colorado Springs is short about 12,000 homes and is in need of housing of all types. This includes rentals, accessory dwelling units (ADU), innovative housing options, and potentially market-rate homes that could result from annexations. The city has an annexation policy that contains great principles that are relevant to the development conversations. The policy outlines that, as the Pikes Peak urban area grows, the City must consider the future utility needs of areas outside the corporate limits while at the same time ensuring the capacity to serve those within the City limits.
As mayor, I will consider and encourage housing of all types balancing the tension of a growing community with the demand for our natural resources. I will also carefully consider the viability and contribution of potential annexations to make sure they are in the best interest of Colorado Springs.
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?
Water is one of the most critical resources for our community. The recently adopted ordinance was amended to require Colorado Springs Utilities to ensure a 128% surplus guarantee of water to meet the current city demands and additional water supplies for new areas and future annexations. This ordinance is meant to help protect our limited water resources while attempting to meet the ongoing need for additional housing. Critics of the ordinance have argued that it is an anti-annexation plan and not a water protection plan. This criticism needs to be acknowledged and discussed. I believe the ordinance is a starting point for this crucial conversation focusing on the vulnerabilities of our limited water supply. However, Colorado Springs water policies must continue to be developed in relationship to a much-needed comprehensive solution for the region. Citizens’ trust that their government will do the right thing for ALL residents is essential to the water and annexation issue. As mayor, I will draw on my leadership experience from the private, non-profit, and government sectors to lead a robust stakeholder engagement process to facilitate a regional water plan that meets the city’s current and future growth needs. To accomplish this, I will engage these 3 groups:
- City Council: As an ad hoc member of the Utilities board, I will leverage that status to ensure a strong working relationship on behalf of Colorado Springs residents.
- County Commissioners: The County has their own water priorities. I will ensure a strong collaborative working relationship with the County to ensure a regional win-win.
- Community: Proactively enlist the help of key community stakeholders in order to improve how the City engages our diverse residents on our important water plans and annexation decisions.
How do you balance maintaining the character of Colorado Springs with the need for development? What is the character of Colorado Springs?
Growth is inevitable. My tremendous task and opportunity as mayor is to balance our competing priorities around our need for more housing and other infrastructure priorities with protecting the character of our neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are fundamental to our Colorado Springs identity. As we grow, we must celebrate and preserve each neighborhood’s uniqueness and diversity. I will build upon the city’s PlanCOS vision to address the unique characteristics and needs of the different localities of our city. PlanCOS is organized around six vision themes including vibrant neighborhoods, unique places, renowned culture, strong connections, thriving economy, and majestic landscapes. I will ensure we engage our diverse residents including homeowners, renters, business owners, and other property owners, to identify a vision and help shape the future of their communities. Development plans will be established without preference to the personal gains of individuals or interest groups, but in favor of decisions that are in the best interests of the maximum number of residents.
Transportation / Infrastructure
What is the most important infrastructure project needed in Colorado Springs right now, and how would you address it?
The maintenance, repair, and expansion of our roadways is key to attracting economic development and ensuring our quality of life. Our aging infrastructure and increased traffic volume are driving the need for increased road maintenance. As the largest geographic city in Colorado, Colorado Springs roads are, and will continue to be, in need of regular
maintenance and repair. As our city grows, expanding our transportation options and enhancing regional connectivity, including better connecting Colorado Springs with east-west roadways, becomes even more important.
In 2019, Colorado Springs residents passed a five-year 2C tax extension set to sunset in 2025. There is no question the voter-approved 2C sales tax revenue is helping to fix our potholes, to improve the condition of roads, sidewalks, curbs, and gutters, and to enhance accessibility in Colorado Springs. 2C revenues provide additional funding to complement road maintenance funded through the Pike Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) and the City’s General Fund. As mayor, I am committed to permanent funding through a variety of mechanisms, including the extension of 2C, to help improve the condition of Colorado Springs roads.
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?
While Colorado Springs is a "car-dependent" city, there is increasing demand for public transportation to help meet the needs and demands of our growing community. Colorado Springs is predicted to overtake Denver as the state’s largest city by 2050 and the population of the Pikes Peak region is expected to be just over one million people in 2045, approximately 50% more than in 2015. The expected growth will produce demand for new travel and public transit options. We already have a transportation shortage, disproportionately affecting low-income households, seniors, residents with disabilities, as well as Millennials and Generation Z residents who choose not to own a vehicle.
ConnectCOS, the city's new long-term transportation plan, outlines strategies to meet the city’s growing and future transportation needs. The plan recommends about 160 projects, ranging from constructing and improving roads and sidewalks, to building trails, bike routes, and transit facilities. This new plan will increase access and make it easier to get around the city. As mayor, I will champion the implementation of the plan with ongoing stakeholder input and ensure the plan remains flexible to adapt to future changes.
In addition, as the passenger rail options come more online throughout Colorado, Colorado Springs residents will benefit from this connectivity. The city has conducted a study to identify a station location in order to prepare for when the anticipated passenger rail plans materialize.
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?
Over the last 7 years, the city has been promoting bicycles as an alternative to cars as evidenced by the new bike lanes, e-bikes, and bike trails. Colorado Springs is an active city where outdoor activities are already part of our lifestyle; therefore, the use of active transportation such as walking and biking should be incorporated into our way of life. Cycling and walking have huge benefits for Colorado Springs residents as they are inexpensive transportation options, allow easier ways to get around the city, provide health benefits, and promote road safety and equity.
The new ConnectCOS plan proposes dozens of sidewalk, trail, and bike projects and the Bike Master Plan promotes bicycling as one of many necessary transportation options. As the city grows, it is imperative that we pursue multi modal transportation to include the strengthening of our sidewalk infrastructure to make walking an attractive option, and improve our cycling infrastructure to include new bike lanes and enhance bike parking infrastructure.
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?
Our open spaces, trails, and parks are arguably some of the most beautiful in the country. The beauty of our natural scenery inspired the founder of our city, General William Jackson Palmer, 151 years ago, to envision and create a great city. We must ensure Colorado Springs families today, as well as future generations, have access to well-maintained and safe parks. As mayor, I will encourage the continued investment in our natural beauty and environment and engage the people of Colorado Springs to vote to create the community they envision for themselves and their families. I will urge citizens to reconsider increasing the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) sales and use tax to allow more funding for our playgrounds, community parks, open space and sports complexes. In addition, I will champion and support City Council’s President’s Commission on Sustainable Park Funding, established to identify funding options for our park system. In my administration, the executive branch of city government will conserve and enhance the natural landscape that makes our city great in a way that affirms the will of the citizens of Colorado Springs.
What do you see as the current state of economic diversity, and where does the city have the opportunity to grow?
I served as the Vice President at the Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Corporation, supporting many local, anchor, and flagship companies. Ultimately, economic development is a three-legged stool. The first leg is the work to promote the region as the best place to live, work, and play. The second leg is the work to attract new companies and jobs into our city. The third leg is the work to retain and help our local companies grow. The work in each of these areas helps to ensure a diverse economy, resulting in the strength of various sectors in our community, such as aerospace and defense, cybersecurity, software, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and sports. As mayor I will:
- Support the work and expertise of our many economic development partners, including Catalyst campus, exponential impact, Thrive Network, and the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation to ensure we are (1) promoting our region to encourage new investments (2) actively recruit new flagship companies and (3) supporting the growth and expansion of local businesses, including “anchor industries.”
- Make it easier to do business with the city by leveraging the City’s Economic Development Office to support our many industries through an expedited review process, and streamlining the city approval process, issue resolutions, and rapid response programs.
- Increase resources to support entrepreneurs and small businesses, such as expanding sales tax exemptions to local small businesses
- Prioritize programs to support underserved business areas in the city, such as southeast Colorado Springs.
Is the city doing enough to address the issue of people experiencing homelessness? What, if anything, would you do differently?
I have served on the Board of Springs Rescue Mission and performed over 60 campaign meet and greets. I am hearing most of our need to show compassion and provide services to residents experiencing homelessness while also maintaining the safety of our neighborhoods. As a pastor, I will care for our neighbors in need. As a parent of young children, my family's safety is my greatest concern. As mayor, I will prioritize both.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless recently reported that 71 percent of people experiencing homelessness have a mental illness. Therefore my priorities as mayor include:
- Boost the city’s partnerships with local providers that focus on mental health care.
- Increase the number of permanent supportive housing options in our community through local partnerships, including Homeward Pikes Peak, Springs Rescue Mission, The Place, and other local providers. Supportive housing combines housing with behavioral health care and intensive case management and services.
- Expand the city’s street behavioral health outreach programs to address encampments and ensure our residents experiencing homelessness have access to the needed care and services to get them off the street and into housing, health services, and work.
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)?
As mayor, I will always do everything possible to responsibly steward the hard earned tax dollars of our constituents, and honor the democratic process by which the people of our city can express their public fiscal priorities. If and when we must find new resources to accomplish our goals, I will engage the people of Colorado Springs, urging them to voice their opinions and vote to create the community they envision for themselves and their neighbors. This includes seeking the will of the voters to retain funds that exceed the cap imposed by TABOR. With the voter’s blessing, the city retained nearly $2 million in revenue to fund public safety, rather than refund it to taxpayers. The granting of these excess funds to the City demands great accountability and transparency, which I welcome and will promote. Maintaining fiscal discipline is essential to running a good business. I will bring this discipline to the mayor’s office to include creating a budget, tracking spending, keeping costs down, identifying waste, building savings, employing low-cost creative solutions, and having a contingency plan.
Who are your top three campaign donors?
Conor McCluskey (Individual donation; CEO), Susan Pattee (Individual donation; CEO), and Vance Brown (Individual donation; CEO)
Beyond my top donors, the campaign finance reporting shows a clear distinction between my campaign and my opponents. One of the most compelling stats from our fundraising is the number of individual donations. At the time of publishing the database, our campaign has 858 individual donations. For comparison, the other 11 candidates combined have only 576. Our donations have come from every city council district, zip code, and neighborhood in our great city. In contrast, many of my opponent’s donations have come from one or a handful of “special interest groups.” My campaign is debt-free and completely crowdfunded. For too long, the influential few have tried to buy our city. It's time we gave the people their voice back.
Would you support city councilors receiving a living wage or salary as opposed to the annual stipend of $6,250?
Candidate did not answer.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado Springs?
Candidate did not answer.
Would you support creating an independent board for Colorado Springs Utilities, rather than having council serve as the board?
Candidate did not answer.
Do you support Front Range Rail?
Candidate did not answer.
Do you support extending Constitution Avenue?
Candidate did not answer.
Is the city adequately addressing climate change and adaptation?
Candidate did not answer.
Do you support the ballot measure that extends the TOPS sales tax?
Candidate did not answer.
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