For months, Manitou Springs residents have been riled over plans to build an upscale development in the Red Rock Canyon property that sits adjacent to their small hamlet just west of Colorado Springs.
Their city government's at least perceived involvement with the developer of the property has helped to liven up the race for mayor and City Council, as has the emergence of popular former state Rep. Marcy Morrison who is challenging Nancy Hankin, a special events decorator, in the race for mayor.
Hankin has been perceived as being pro-development because of her role in exploring ways that the city could provide water to the Red Rock development; however, she denies her efforts were inappropriate.
Morrison, a 35-year resident of Manitou Springs, has a long history of serving in office; she's worked as a legislator, a county commissioner and a school board member. She has declined to openly criticize Hankin, instead focusing on her own skills as "a darn good communicator " and someone who can align divergent viewponts.
"I'm giving people a choice," Morrison said of her decision to run, a move that was urged by several local activists. "I'm not criticizing the present mayor or Council, but there's always a lot on their plate and it's good to have a different perspective, have a broader perspective."
Currently vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hankin said she plans to begin campaigning for her re-election when she returns home next week. One of her priorities, she said, is to focus on correcting public "misperceptions."
"People are saying I'm pro-development, and that's not an accurate reflection of who I am," Hankin said.
In addition to the mayor's race, the three district Manitou Springs City Council seats are up for grabs, and the incumbents are challenged in all three races. Donna Ford, the wife of former mayor Bud Ford, is challenging incumbent Kirstin Erikson in Ward 1; Michelle Weisblat-Dane is taking on incumbent Kathy Verlo in Ward 2; and restaurateur Michael Milar is challenging incumbent Philip St. Cloud in Ward 3.
Many of the candidates will be at a forum to debate the issues on Monday, Oct. 15, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Business of Art Center, 513 Manitou Ave.
-- Cara DeGette