Neither Bach nor Skorman stands out in mayoral debate

City Sage



Steve Bach — at an earlier debate

Monday’s debate at the Pikes Peak Center was a low-key affair, featuring the two mayoral runoff finalists. Neither Steve Bach nor Richard Skorman appeared to be particularly energized or interested in the event. By now, they’re like an obscure oldies group in the last weeks of a 20-state tour. Imagine the Turtles, playing to sparse crowds of cheerful geezers, getting up there once more to sing “Happy Together.”

“So happy together/And how is the weather?”

Fun for a while, no doubt — but after a while it’s just a job, with those maddening lyrics running through your head.

Our slightly dispirited twin turtles haven’t forgotten their lyrics either. They’re all for jobs (“Jobs are No. 1!”) and they love their young professionals!

Alas, we lack both — and neither man was able to articulate a plan to improve things.

It’s as if they were saying “Look, we need pink elephants on Tejon Street, so if we could just get some pink elephants, then we’d put ‘em on Tejon Street.”

Fine, but how do we get those elephants?

Both pledged, as they have many times previously, to work hard, collaborate with Council and city staff, reach out to one and all, bring citizens (so happy!) together, cut red tape, and bring us from the slough of despondence to the sunny uplands of our bright future.

In debate, Skorman has one significant disadvantage — he knows too much. He’s not comfortable with the canned responses that the 30-, 60- 120-second debate formats demand. You can see his mind working, trying to reduce complex, multi-faceted problems to politically appropriate soundbites.

Bach doesn’t have that problem. He’s gone a long way since his stiff, labored announcement of his candidacy a few months ago. He’s learned a lot, borrowed stuff from other campaigns, gained in confidence, and become far more polished and credible. He even made a useful suggestion, saying that he’d hire a person who would be a project manager, reporting directly to him. The manager would be the city’s point person for major business projects, allowing the business to deal with one person, not a dozen different city departments and agencies.

It’s a good idea, one which Boulder adopted years ago.

Neither candidate seems willing to abandon a particularly tiresome talking point. Bach reminded the audience several times that he’s been here since 1964, while Skorman spoke of buying old ammunition boxes for 29 cents apiece to build shelves for his nascent bookstore in the mid-1970s. We get it, guys; you’re old, you have geezer cred!!

Asked a generically vague question about the region’s military presence, they both spouted the usual platitudes. They love and respect the military, they want to build upon it, do more, attract more retirees, encourage them to launch new businesses, etc, etc. Neither wanted to talk about the camouflaged elephant in the room — the simple fact that we can expect the military budget to shrink dramatically in the next decade, and that we’ll take a few hits.

The ballots are out, and the results will be in two weeks from tonight. So here’s a suggestion for both candidates (who, together, have spent 125 years on the planet).

Whoever is elected will have some jobs to fill, from chief of staff on down. How about pledging to hire actual young professionals to fill those posts? Get out of your comfort zones: What about a 34-year-old chief of staff? That, more than anything else, would show your commitment to real change.

Just as City Council no longer looks like the men’s club at the assisted living center, it’d be nice to see the City Administration Building filled with energetic young folk … and besides, new Councilors Brandy Williams and Lisa Czelatdko need friends their own age.

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