KRCC News sent detailed surveys about some of the most critical issues facing city leaders, to the candidates running for the Pueblo mayoral seat. Read their responses below.
The responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Role and vision
Why do you want to be mayor/on council and what qualifications would you bring to the position?
My name is Heather Graham, I am a lifelong Puebloan. I graduated from CSU-Pueblo with a Psychology degree. I am a proud small business owner of three restaurants in Pueblo, Grahams Grill 1 and 2, and Rubys Wine Bar. I have owned my businesses for nearly 10 years. My husband is also a small business owner of the Pueblo Athletic Club. Together we employ over 200 Puebloans. I am your At-Large City Council member and have been the president of the City Council for the last two years. I currently sit on seven boards in Pueblo. I want to bring change, fresh perspectives, and a thriving community where everyone can be successful.
What makes you proud to be a Puebloan?
After graduating college, I decided to stay in Pueblo. Since then, I have opened four restaurants. I love what Pueblo has to offer. I have invested time and interest into the community I call home, always wanting to make it a better place to live. Always wanting to make it a better business-friendly community where people can come to visit for the weekend.
What endorsements do you hold?
I hold the Pueblo Police Union IBPO # 537
Do you support the statewide initiative Prop HH?
Do you support the statewide Prop II?
Should Pueblo go back to a city manager-run government instead of maintaining a strong mayor?
Should the city move the bust of Christopher Columbus?
Do you support the expansion of bike routes?
What is the biggest challenge facing Pueblo you plan to address as an elected official? How would you address it?
Civic accountability. This goes for criminals and unhoused, resource-resistant folks. My plan will include solutions like erecting temporary shelters and creating more bed spaces. Providing more bed space gives the city the ability to pass camping bans & ordinances to hold resource-resistant individuals accountable to rules. If you will not accept the help being offered, you will face the consequences of breaking the law. We will make Pueblo uncomfortable for the organized criminals to continue to be here, and we will help the ones who truly need it. We MUST protect our tax base and clean up our foundation. Businesses need a safe and secure environment to operate in.
How might you seek to combat the rising cost of living?
I would go to the State and Federal delegation and advocate for Pueblo and its needs. As far as a locally governed agency goes that is about all we can do. We can advocate and try to obtain grant funding to curb some of these costs for Individuals.
What kind of new employment opportunities should local government work to attract? What should they pay and how would you work to attract and/or create them?
We should revisit how our economic tax can be used. I would love to see some of those tax dollars being spent to help grow small businesses here established in Pueblo already. I also think we should try to attract more tech business.
How do you plan on improving public safety?
- Creating a business beat, where business owners can fill out a form to have their business be part of extra surveillance.
- Putting a 90-day pause on the Civil Service Commission so we can do mass hiring like they do in other communities not just 4 times a year to allow us to hire more officers, quicker.
- Changing the types of calls we respond to, for example, a call that has been waiting for 4 hours on trespassing takes about 20-30 mins for an officer to respond to. If a certain amount of time has passed this call should not be a priority to be cleared.
What do you see as the primary contributor to the issue of homelessness in Pueblo and how would you address it?
No civic accountably. Pueblo has no camping ban. We need to consolidate the resources we have and help the people who need help and give consequences to the ones who don't want to abide by the laws.
How do you feel about the current relationship between city council and the mayor's office? How would you work to foster that relationship?
There is no relationship. I would focus on bridging that gap. As Mayor, I would work with the council. I will let them come to department meetings, and not hold information to from them. I will collaborate and provide them with tools necessary to make the best decisions for their districts. I will work hand in hand with all council members to find solutions. I will have an open-door policy.
What is the image of Pueblo? What should it be? What are three steps to get it there?
The city has been at a plateau for years. We should be a responsible growing city, bringing more attractions and things to do here. Pueblo has so many things to offer, we just need to build it back up. 1. The Mayor should control the narrative of the City and be advocating at the State level for things that can make Pueblo more prosperous. 2. Fresh eyes and new energy. Pueblo is not past its prime but some of its elected officials have been status quo for some time. 3. Cleaning up the homeless population and petty crime problems, and beautification all over the city.
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