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?
I want to be Pueblos next mayor because I see the hidden potential of our great city and the only thing that is keeping that potential from being released is our current leadership. We can no longer be known for our negative crime, poverty and education statistics, We need to be known for all of the great things our city has to offer. I think that I am the only candidate that can release that potential and solve the problems that are currently plaguing our city and move Pueblo forward. I am a retired small business owner with 40 years of experience in construction and personal services. I am expirienced in team building, problem solving and project management. I think that these are good attributes for a mayor to possess. These are skills that aren't taught they are skills that are acquired over 40 years of business ownership. I am able to work with people from all walks of life and build the teams that will be needed to make Pueblo all that it can be.
What makes you proud to be a Puebloan?
How can I not but be proud to live in the greatest city in Colorado, a city that my family has called home for 150 years. Pueblo is a hard working blue collar city. The people of Pueblo are proud of their city and what it represents. Besides being the gateway to the southwest, Pueblos steel and smelter industries were instrumental in settling the west. I spent twelve years living in Fort Collins before I moved back to Pueblo and I can assure you there no place like home and there's no place like Pueblo. We still have a relatively low cost of housing compared to the rest of the cities along the front range. We have one of the nicest riverwalks for a city of our size. We have an abundance of outdoor recreational activities that include miles of trails for biking and hiking, a white water park and great golf courses. We are home to the Colorado State Fair and the Chile and frijole festival and many more community events. We have a great arts scene and many cultural events, along with a rich history. And we are the Home Of Heros!
What endorsements do you hold?
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?
No. I think that a strong mayoral form of government would be more beneficial to Pueblo with the right leadership and I think I am that leader. The mayor is a stable force in the government he is the face of Pueblo. He ensures that public services are delivered He charts a public policy course and keeps the city on that course. He works with businesses and community leaders to ensure that the needs of the citizens are met, he developes a budget and shares governing duties with city council. He oversees all city departments and can remove or replace city administrators. A city manager is an at will employee that's duties include developing the cities budget, he oversees the day to day operations of the city and executes laws and regulations passed by the city council. He can be replaced by the city council at any time, so there is no opportunity for him to deliver on a long term plan. A strong mayor is a more stable form of government.
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?
The biggest problem facing Pueblo right now is Crime/Public Safety and homelessness.
How might you seek to combat the rising cost of living?
Unfortunately there not much that can be done on the local level to slow the rising cost of living. However there is one thing we can do to bring down the cost of living is to bring the crime rate back to 2018 levels. Shop lifting Is a huge contributor to the rising cost of food and non food items at all retailers. Not only do they pass the cost of the lost merchandise onto the customer they have had to hire additional security and implement expensive security measures as well and they have no choice but to pass those costs on to their customers.
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?
In the early 1980s the Pueblo voters approved a half cent sales tax and created the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., PEDCO was tasked with recruiting companies that would provide primary jobs and that paid a living wage. In the early days they were quit successful but lately not so much, most of the industries that created white collar jobs in Pueblo have left and taken those jobs with them. I think we need to look at PEDCO and possibly look at contracting this service out. What Pueblo needs are more white collar jobs, we need jobs that will keep our educated youth here. I see no reason why we can't recruit new industries that pay competitive wages with comparable industries within the state. We have plenty of human and natural resources and incentive programs that should be a plus with recruiting new companies and industries. With Colorado Springs being the home of the U.S. Space Command I think that Pueblo could benefit by having a space port designation for our airport. We may be able to capitalize on our close proximity to Colorado Springs and our access to property and facilities at Pueblo Plex.
How do you plan on improving public safety?
The only way we are going to improve public safety is to hire 70 police officers however we can reduce crime by using cheap technologies. We need to improve lighting in the high crime areas, we need to use camera technology to include license plate readers. I would like to work with the courts and crime stoppers to publicize the picture of any person that has a warrant issued for what ever reason including failure to appear. I would publicize there picture on various platforms including LED billboards, I think having there picture being seen by the public may cause them to change their ways.
What do you see as the primary contributor to the issue of homelessness in Pueblo and how would you address it?
I think there are three contributors to the homelessness problem, affordable housing, mental health and substance abuse/addiction problems. We need a housing first approach. Ideally we would be able to put everyone into permanent housing but that's not a possibility. What we can do is develop a temporary housing shelter to get these folks off the street and into a stable situation. Then we need to work with all the no profits that proved mental health and substance abuse problems and bring those services to the people, for those that don't need this type of help we need to make employment service available and try to get them back into the work force so the can get back on their feet and hopefully find permanent housing.
How do you feel about the current relationship between city council and the mayor's office? How would you work to foster that relationship?
The current relationship between the mayor office and city council is at times dicy. I feel that part of the problem is that for the past 18 months or so people have been playing partisan politics and unfortunately there is no place for partisan politics in city government. The other issue is that 4 of the current city council members are running for the job of mayor. Unfortunately for whoever wins the election they will have to work with a least 2 of these council members. This is probably the biggest reason that council members should have to resign their position on council if they choose to run for mayor.
What is the image of Pueblo? What should it be? What are three steps to get it there?
Unfortunately Pueblos image is not good. We are perceived by the rest of the state as the worst place in Colorado to live which is far from the truth. First we need to get the crime rate down in a big way. Second we need to deal with the homeless problem and thirdly our schools need to improve on student test scores. If we can accomplish these three thing I think that with the help of a P.R. and marketing firm we can accentuate all of the other great things Pueblo has to offer. We have a great climate, the riverwalk, a rich history, great outdoor recreational opportunities, lake Pueblo, an art and culture scene just to name a few!
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