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Give! raises over $1.5 million, Elder settles in, Suthers leads money race

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Suthers outraises rivals

Attorney General John Suthers leads the money race in the contest for Colorado Springs mayor, having hauled in $35,220 during December for a total of $111,180.

El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen is second with $60,954, which includes $13,837 in in-kind services from Blakeley & Co. Former mayor Mary Lou Makepeace has raised $19,780, and former Councilor Joel Miller has brought in $4,465.

Suthers, who will formally announce his candidacy Jan. 17, has received money from attorneys across the state and from politicians, including former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown and former Republican Gov. Bill Owens. He's spent $5,103 so far.

Lathen's campaign said in a news release that more than 93 percent of her money has come from donors in Colorado Springs. She's spent $7,719 so far, including $500 to her daughter and campaign coordinator, Emily, who works at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' Lane Center.

Makepeace's big donors in December included Kathleen Murphy, $1,000, and former Councilor Jim Null, $500. She's spent $4,618, including $2,000 paid to consultant Chet Hardin, a former Independent reporter.

Miller's largest donation, $2,500, came from David Miller of Buffalo, New York. Of his nine donors, five are pilots. Miller is a retired Air Force officer and flies for FedEx. He's spent $804. — PZ

New sheriff settles in

Bill Elder will be sworn in as El Paso County sheriff on Tuesday, Jan. 13, but since outgoing Sheriff Terry Maketa retired early, Elder is already in office as the interim sheriff. And he seems to be enjoying the new role.

Meeting with reporters at his first official press conference on Jan. 2, Elder promised greater transparency, saying reporters will now be able to interview detectives and officers directly rather than having to consult with a public information officer, and that the department will post regularly on Facebook and Twitter. He says he's welcoming staff to talk with him directly.

Elder has reason to promote changes coming under his leadership, as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation continues to look into the alleged criminal wrongdoing of his predecessor.

Elder also said he's interested in working with the Colorado Springs and Fountain police departments, and combining some functions, such as dispatch. Elder says he will try to find an existing government building to house a combined dispatch, and that a recently built smaller dispatch could be used as a backup.

Other functions he'd like to work together on include homeless outreach, narcotics (already a combined function of the sheriff and police), and safe-streets programs. He says he also hopes to put together a standing board made up of representatives from local law enforcement agencies and the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office that would review police-involved shootings.

Elder has brought back three commanders who were placed on suspension by Maketa. "It's not fair to the public to pay them the salary they're being paid and have them sit at home," he says, adding that an outside investigation into alleged wrongdoing by the commanders will continue. Asked if he would discipline the commanders should the investigations find evidence of wrongdoing, Elder says he would. — JAS

Give! exceeds $1.5 million

The annual Give! campaign set a goal of raising $1.4 million for 75 local nonprofits in 2014. It ended up raising over $1.5 million, and donations are still being processed.

"In a year when other campaigns like ours across the country did not meet their goals, Colorado Springs residents demonstrated their commitment to the causes and organizations that make our city a better place — far exceeding our fundraising hopes," Give! associate director Claire Swinford says.

Give!, a joint project of the Independent and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation that runs during the holiday season, started in 2009 and has grown each year. Given that donors get to choose which nonprofits they support, some nonprofits fared better than others. Just 36 nonprofits met their goal; another 10 raised at least 75 percent of their goal.

Some nonprofits were especially popular. Dream Centers of Colorado Springs, Kids on Bikes, Friends of New Horizons Band of Colorado Springs, and Community Partnership Family Resource Center received more than twice the amount of their goals. — JAS

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