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Reform — without the Team



A newcomer to City Council put it best: "Jobs, jobs and more jobs."

Brandy Williams said that's her mantra as she joins a Council dominated by political novices who stressed the need to boost the local economy during their campaigns.

The other at-large Council seats went to Val Snider, Merv Bennett, Tim Leigh and incumbent Jan Martin on Tuesday night.

Williams, 32, was the only one of the bunch not endorsed by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, which chose Sean Paige instead. But Williams is singing the Chamber's tune.

She wants to see what's working for other cities, and to streamline the Springs' requirements for business. "There's a lot of barriers," she said during an election-night interview at Nosh. "It's hindering us."

That Williams, who's never sought public office, got the nod over Paige, the Gazette editorial page editor-turned-Council-appointee, was something of a surprise. But it wasn't the only surprise.

Going down in flames

Another batch of losers were Douglas Bruce and his Reform Team, which pledged to slash city spending even more, undo the U.S. Olympic Committee deal, and halt construction of the Southern Delivery System water pipeline. Surely to the shock of Bruce but the delight of many, teammate Ed Bircham actually outpolled Bruce by more than 2,000 votes. As expected, none of Bruce's group appeared publicly or talked to media on Tuesday.

The mood at downtown watch parties was jubilant about Bruce's crash landing. Asked if she was pleased that certain people had been roundly rejected, Martin chirped, "Absolutely." She added that the vote suggests residents want to "move the community forward in a very positive manner."

But from her gathering at the Blue Star, Martin quickly turned to Council's agenda.

"Jobs has been my number one thing. It was four years ago, and it will be again this time," she said. "Every decision I make looks at how it will affect jobs in this community. I definitely think people agree that the economy is the thing."

For his part, Leigh said, "We need to change the culture of Colorado Springs to attract the young creative class."

He's already pushing "share-ways," an initiative to label outside lanes of Colorado Avenue from downtown to Manitou Springs with images of cyclists, so everyone understands bikes and cars are to share the lanes.

"We'll have that implemented within 60 days of this election," Leigh vowed. "By doing this particular project, we have shifted the paradigm on how projects will be done with the city." He said he's raising half the $40,000 cost, and the city will pay half.

He also wants to convert the bathhouse at Prospect Lake into a restaurant, and to "re-deploy" other assets in similar unconventional ways — all to make the city a place where young people want to work. That, he said, will attract employers looking for bright, creative and young talent.

Snider, who's served on several city panels including the planning commission, says his initial focus will be on defining Council's role in the new strong-mayor government.

Hente for president

Council veteran Scott Hente will be there to help. "Order one — this is the voice of experience — is a lot of orientation, just figuring out the roles of Council, the organization of the city," Hente said. "This takes a lot of time."

Not only willing to help the newcomers get their bearings, Hente said he wants to be Council president, a post that's apt to evolve into a power position, because the president will chair Council meetings and the Colorado Springs Utilities board.

But while Leigh said he would support Hente, others might jockey for the job.

Bennett, former head of the local YMCA, said Hente will be a "strong candidate," but he, too, is interested. Bennett wants the Council to strengthen ties with county commissioners, the Chamber, and Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. to "create an environment for job development" so that "we're not putting roadblocks in the way" of business.

If that seems not to be happening, you'll be hearing from Paige, who'll continue to run a conservative think tank and blogs at During his 18 months on Council, Paige turned the less-government-is-better philosophy into an art form.

Tuesday night, as it appeared he was out of the running, Paige kept his spirits up at Springs Orleans.

"I wrestled with the idea of whether you can lead from the inside or out," he said. "I care about these issues and will fight for those issues whether it's inside or out. I'm going to stay very involved. I've had a blast on City Council."

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