By Davis Tutt
One of the cornerstones of American democracy is the presence of open speech and debate. Whether on a national or local scale, constituents deserve the right to learn about candidates’ stances on issues. In an effort to increase civic engagement and dialogue, the Forum for Civic Advancement, a program of El Pomar Foundation, recently hosted a City Council Candidate Debate in partnership with the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute (CSLi), KKTV 11News, the Gazette, and AARP. The event was moderated by KKTV anchor, Don Ward.
With over 220 citizens in attendance, the 14 City Council candidates answered district-specific questions on topics ranging from landslide zone development to bicycle lanes to cannabis clubs to the annexation of the Banning Lewis Ranch. Of particular note, Council candidates lobbied their proposals for the continuation of City Council as the Utilities Board. A highly contentious issue among citizens and candidates alike, potential solutions to Board makeup included an elected board, an appointed board, or a hybrid of the two. All candidates embraced the opportunity to give their opinion on this highly debated issue, with none shying away from potential political ramifications.
The event concluded with a “lightning round”, where the candidates answered yes/no questions from the audience. While this format did not allow for substantial political debate, it made up for brevity with the range of issues covered. Topics included the continuation of 2C funding, tax increases for city parks, homeless encampments along Fountain Creek, armed teachers in classrooms, the concept of a “sanctuary city”, and each candidates’ campaign financing. To read more about the City Council Forum or watch a replay, click here.
During a time of significant transition and expansion for Colorado Springs, the presence of transparent leaders is more important than ever. The Forum for Civic Advancement aims at aiding in this by convening concerned and informed citizens with political leaders, experts, and media to engage in larger conversations. If you would like to be informed about future Forum events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact information.