Colorado Springs mayoral candidate questionnaire: Christopher Mitchell
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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.
Christopher Mitchell is an engineer. He describes himself as a "Patriot, Constitutional Conservative, transformational leader, and rugged individualist." At a recent forum put on by the Palmer Land Conservancy, Mitchell said focusing on the nexus of growth and conservation is one of the most important things the city needs to do. On his website, he said as part of his platform, he wants to dismantle the recently passed ReToolCOS zoning plan and the larger city-wide plan known as PlanCOS.
Role and vision
What is your elevator pitch for why voters in Colorado Springs should choose you as the next mayor?
I am running for Mayor to maintain the City’s founding principles and sense of community, culminating in making Colorado Springs a World Class City of the Future. As an engineer by trade, I will bring a practical and consistent management style to the Mayor’s office.
What do you see as the role and/or function of city government?
City Government exists to serve the residents of the City and provide the administrative, legislative, and judicial capabilities to operate the City in a practical, ethical, and efficient fashion.
What is the number one challenge facing the next mayor of Colorado Springs, and how would you address it?
Growth Management (See Section 4)
What is your vision for Colorado Springs in the next 25 years, and what realistic policies do you propose to get us there?
Taking a comprehensive viewpoint, I will champion and extend General Palmer's original vision for the City of Colorado Springs of a planned community built around its natural beauty and environment. As Mayor, I will implement policies to champion “Graduated Growth Planning," Economic Development, Public Safety, and Conservation of Open Space and Natural Resources. Practicality in all policy categories is imperative.
Law enforcement / Public Safety
What is the most pressing public safety issue facing the city and how would you address it?
The recruiting goals, enforcement follow-through, occupational safety, and service coverage are the most pressing public safety issues for the City of Colorado Springs. First, I will get a briefing from the Police Chief to get a comprehensive view of the challenges facing CSPD, including recruitment goals and training processes. As Mayor, one of my top priorities will be to maintain adequate service coverage, including equipment and staffing levels, for law enforcement and follow through on my duties. It is imperative to maintain an environment of appreciation, respect, unity, developmental training, and occupational safety for CSPD officers and employees. Second, prioritizing the CSPD operating budget is critical.
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?
From the findings in the audit, it seems that CSPD is in good shape overall with how and when CSPD uses force. I don’t see anything in the audit raising concerns. Room for improvement exists. I am more concerned about LETAC suffering from mission creep and over-regulating CSPD through bureaucratically ill-conceived recommendations to City Council.
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 believe the relationship between the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) and the public is acceptable. There is room for improvement, as in any relationship.
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 LETAC is acceptable in concept. However, excessive regulatory bureaucracy for any City department should be guarded against and avoided at all costs. In other words, in this case, LETAC needs to avoid mission creep through establishment of clear processes for objective decision making.
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?
As Mayor, I believe the Mayor’s Office should have solid, detailed, and comprehensive emergency evacuation plans in place for the residents of Colorado Springs, not only for wildfire (e.g. grass, forest) events but also for State and Federal emergencies.
How do you define sustainable and responsible growth, and is the city successful in growing responsibly and sustainably?
Currently, growth is completely mismanaged. I subscribe to “Graduated Growth Planning,” which defines the multivariate trend lines and the inter-relationships to the components of growth management (e.g. infrastructure, service coverage, natural resources, and open space conservation). “Graduated Growth Planning” is a customized growth management and projection model based on growth consolidation dynamics, minimizing compartmentalization and maximizing stability. Before “affordability," there has to be “stability." “Affordable Housing” is a term marshaled and misapplied primarily by housing developers who peddle false hope to the City of Colorado Springs rather than focusing on “Stability in Housing." I am against the short-sighted and disjointed development polices of high-density urbanization supported by the Department of Planning and Development and Housing Developers. I will be a Mayor for the residents first. The City of Colorado Springs belongs to the residents; it does not belong to developers who bring ill-conceived development plans and methods to this community.
What different approach would you take, if any, to help address housing affordability?
See previous answer on this topic regarding “Graduated Growth Planning.”
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?
For a given single-family residential area, the original zoning intent, or Master Plan, should be observed when considering the introduction of high-density multi-family units into an established single-family residential district. I oppose all efforts to “infill” or “shoehorn” new multi-family units into traditionally single-family residential areas without more consideration placed on the original zoning intent, or Master Plan. I actively oppose changing a given Master Plan intent for ill-conceived city initiatives such as ReToolCOS and PlanCOS. I oppose all efforts to consume valuable open space areas for new developments. As Mayor, I will be for the residents first.
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?
The ordinance setting Colorado Springs Utilities’ ability to deliver 130% of current demand as a prerequisite for future annexations is a good starting point, with future adjustments made in the consolidation phases of “Graduated Growth Planning." As we grow by applying “Graduated Growth Planning," the City of Colorado Springs can continue to consolidate finite water resources and the associated water resource management infrastructure, such as reservoirs and watersheds. As demonstrated with the 130% rule, the City can use administrative mechanisms, impact fees, and development regulations to implement water resource policies.
How do you balance maintaining the character of Colorado Springs with the need for development? What is the character of Colorado Springs?
See previous answers on this topic as related to growth management (i.e. Graduated Growth Planning), infill policy, and annexation policy. I subscribe to and champion General Palmer's original vision for the City of Colorado Springs of a planned community built around its natural beauty and environment.
Transportation / Infrastructure
What is the most important infrastructure project needed in Colorado Springs right now, and how would you address it?
The most time-critical infrastructure initiative is the consolidation of the City roadway system, according to the tenets of “Graduated Growth Planning,” which includes maintenance of existing roadway infrastructure and new roadway infrastructure required to support the next growth phase.
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?
The City is involved in many wasteful initiatives, programs, and proposals that benefit only small segments of the community. As Mayor, I will prioritize those components that benefit City residents at large. Similar to bike lanes, public transportation in Colorado Springs is predominantly underutilized. In the case of public transportation, it must be refactored for efficiency of use for the residents at large. In the case of private transportation, our lagging infrastructure must be brought in alignment with our growth dynamics for efficiency of use for the residents at large. In both cases, is where “Graduated Growth Planning” will be applied.
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?
Most bicycle lanes are a waste of street space and are predominantly underutilized. I would like to see some of the underutilized lanes removed. The City is involved in many wasteful initiatives, programs, and proposals that benefit only small segments of the residents. I will prioritize those transportation components that serve the City residents at large. Active transportation modalities should be examined for practical implementations and integrated with motor vehicle transportation implementations.
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 subscribe to and will champion General Palmer's original vision for the City of Colorado Springs of a planned community built around its natural beauty and environment. As the City grows, the conservation of open space and natural beauty is paramount. I oppose all efforts to consume valuable open space areas for new development and ill-conceived infilling policies. As Mayor, I will be for the residents first.
What do you see as the current state of economic diversity, and where does the city have the opportunity to grow?
We need to move away from the flat two-dimensional economy model of the past, that is, the "Defense Industry - Service Industry" paradigm. An interlocked multi-dimensional economy, that is, a "Defense Industry - Private Sector Technology - Gig Economy - Education - Financial - Service Industry" model, with better upward mobility, will provide more diversity to our tax base and be more competitive with other cities. Seeking to build a new paradigm will help to integrate, promote, and retain graduates from local educational institutions. Partnership with local politicians and business leaders is necessary. Example: Expansion of the Microchip Technology Silicon Carbide Plant.
Is the city doing enough to address the issue of people experiencing homelessness? What, if anything, would you do differently?
As Mayor, I will enforce the laws through the appropriate departments concerning homeless populations. I will devise and implement "Clean City" policies to remove the homeless from public and private areas in cases of unlawful activity, persistent public safety issues, and unsanitary conditions. Once off the streets and removed from the enumerated areas, I will work with community groups to identify the most appropriate redemptive path forward for homeless individuals. As Mayor, I will actively oppose the Federal dynamic of relocating illegal immigrants to our City and overloading City services intended for residents.
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)?
My stance is to keep TABOR in place as is.
Who are your top three campaign donors?
My campaign donors are all ordinary private citizens.
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?
Candidate did not answer.
Do you support Front Range Rail?
Do you support extending Constitution Avenue?
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?
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