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Few voters, no surprises

Lowest voter turnout since 1981 rewards incumbents

Al Brody, at his election night event, concedes he lost - but promises hell return. - DAN WILCOCK
  • Dan Wilcock
  • Al Brody, at his election night event, concedes he lost but promises hell return.

The smallest percentage of registered voters in 24 years quietly returned four City Council members to office in Tuesday's election, but balked at giving them a raise.

"There really were no surprises," said Bob Loevy, a Colorado College professor of political science who has monitored city politics since 1968.

Despite the "unfortunate" turnout -- 34,197 voted, or just under 15 percent of the electorate -- "it's probably a pretty good sample of voter opinion," Loevy said.

In a highlight for supporters, voters decided to let the city keep $1.9 million in tax refund money to repair and refill the popular Prospect Lake, which has become a barren crater since the drought hit.

Incumbent City Councilman Scott Hente (District 1, in the city's northwest quadrant) received 58 percent of the vote, soundly defeating independent candidate Al Brody in the election's hottest race -- one that appeared to be a referendum on growth.

The low voter turnout and results reflect "ignorance and apathy" in Colorado Springs, Brody said after conceding his defeat. During his campaign, Brody accused the current City Council of allowing the local home builder's association and Colorado Springs Utilities to dominate city politics.

"If anything, Al forced Scott to spend some builder money," said Brody campaigner Jill Gaebler, referring to the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions Hente received from developers.

Hente said he would celebrate his victory by going skiing with his wife.

Brody said he would likely run for office again.

Margaret Radford (District 4, southeast) trounced her two opponents, Tony Carpenter and write-in candidate Richard Caruth, receiving 69 percent of the vote. "I have a lot of name recognition because I worked very hard for people," Radford said.

Carpenter and Caruth expressed frustration with Radford and the current City Council during their campaigns. Carpenter ran on a platform to cut wasteful government spending, while Caruth accused Radford of allowing District 4 to increasingly become a "ghetto."

Radford said the voters gave her and the other incumbents the benefit of the doubt.

"There's still a sense that this is a new council," she said.

Darryl Glenn (District 2, northeast) and Jerry Heimlicher (District 3, southwest) walked to victory unopposed.

"I can't complain," Glenn said. "I made sure I voted. I made sure my wife voted."

When it came to ballot issues, 68 percent of voters backed a requirement for City Council to seek voter approval before planning a convention center despite unanimous Council opposition to the idea. Voters also approved, by significant majorities, measures that will require Council to maintain a strategic plan and will require Colorado Springs Utilities and Memorial Hospital to help pay for city government expenses.

Voters rejected, by 57 percent, a measure to let ballot titles exceed 30 words.

And finally, 56 percent of voters opposed a City Council pay raise from $6,250 to $12,000 for City Council members and from $6,250 to $18,000 for the mayor.

Voting against pay raises for Council is a "tradition," Loevy said. "It has come before the public many times" and been rejected -- especially in a slow economy.

Brody joked that he was hoping for the pay raise for himself, but now that he's lost, "I might as well watch them not get a pay raise."

--Dan Wilcock

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