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Mayor Bach's town halls go dark



After a run of 10 town hall meetings last year, Mayor Steve Bach hasn't held one for six months — the longest stretch without one since he held his first on Feb. 22, 2012. And he apparently won't be holding one anytime soon.

From January through May, Bach's online calendar contained 15 events; of those, seven were Spirit of the Springs award ceremonies, and four were media briefings.

Elected in mid-2011, Bach held four town halls in 2012, one in each quadrant of the city. At the close of the first one, on Feb. 19 of that year, he received vigorous applause from a standing-room-only crowd. A Luce Research poll commissioned by the Independent that month showed 67.3 percent of respondents had a favorable impression of him.

Last year, the mayor held 10 town halls — one per month from February through November. When Bach announced the stepped-up schedule, his communications team said, "The town hall meetings provide an opportunity for increased citizen interaction and involvement."

Now, asked why town halls have faded away, Aubrey says the mayor held the 2013 series of town halls "to obtain a baseline of community feedback regarding City priorities" but now is having "individual discussions" with "people around the city."

It's worth noting that Bach's town halls ended shortly before he became ensnarled with City Council over budget matters in December, notably his refusal to comply with Council's veto override that mandated the city be run with 12 departments for accountability purposes, instead of Bach's preferred five.

Also, it was after Bach's last town hall that the city's $250 million City for Champions tourism venture won $120.5 million in state sales tax rebates from the state Economic Development Commission. Debate continues about whether one venue, a downtown sports stadium, should be largely funded with local tax revenue.

All of which raises the question of whether Bach has decided not to seek a second term in next year's city election. He hasn't revealed his intentions, though others — including Attorney General John Suthers, state Rep. Bob Gardner and El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen — are mulling candidacies.

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