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Twelve to watch in '12

Between the Lines


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About this time a year ago, we took an early look at 2011 by identifying local people who might have considerable influence on Colorado Springs.

That group delivered in a big way, from the new mayor (we just didn't know it would be Steve Bach) to chief of staff Steve Cox, UCCS chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak, County Commissioner Sallie Clark, Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun, arts scene leader Susan Edmondson and Doug Price, new head of the convention and visitors bureau (long before anyone even dreamed of "Live it up!").

In recent weeks, several people have brought up that "Eleven in '11" topic, wondering whether an encore might be in order.

First and foremost, we aim to serve our readers, so here's an all-new "Twelve in '12" newsmakers for the year ahead. Let's get started:

1. Laura Neumann. She's the mayor's new chief of staff, which means she'll be helping shape how the city implements policy, and how Bach picks his battles. She has no background in government, so we'll learn whether that's a drawback or a positive. Could be either.

2. Chris Melcher. He's had three months as city attorney, and potential problems are building. We'll see how he handles drilling regulations, those proposed free-speech zones and no-panhandling areas downtown, and the Memorial Health System process.

3. Dan May. Doesn't look like the district attorney will have opposition for a second term, but his office faces pivotal courtroom battles in cases involving developer Ray Marshall and former policeman/accused molester Joshua Carrier.

4. Amy Lathen. As chair of the Board of County Commissioners, Lathen has become a focal point (along with Clark and Dennis Hisey) in the term-limits controversy. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out, perhaps leading to a local-level voter rebellion.

5. Mike Burns. He's been the Gazette's interim publisher for six months, presiding over cuts, layoffs and philosophical changes. As long as he has that "interim" tag, you have to think he's setting the stage for an ownership change, which would be a jolt. But if "interim" goes away, he's the guy.

6. Tom Osborne. As head of the Colorado Springs Sports Corp., Osborne also now heads the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb's board. With the race looking at huge changes (see City Sage, p. 8), the leadership's guidance could have a lasting effect on the oldest motorsports race west of the Mississippi River.

7. Nick Gledich. In nearly three years as superintendent of Colorado Springs School District 11, he has avoided the spotlight, but that could change in 2012 depending on how much damage comes from budget cuts and the Carrier case.

8. Maj. Gen. Joe Anderson. After he was introduced as Fort Carson's new commander, Anderson and I were on the same flight to Dallas. For the record, he sat well back in coach. But he'll be front and center as the Army moves toward putting a Combat Aviation Brigade here, during a time of likely cuts across the military.

9. Meredith Vaughan. The head of Vladimir Jones advertising and marketing agency deserved much applause for her out-front role in the start-up success of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. But the job will be even tougher for the stage finish here next summer. Vaughan already is saying the crowd could be 200,000 that day.

10. Margaret Sabin. With so much attention on what happens to Memorial Health System, Sabin's task as president/CEO of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services will be to continue her operation's recent momentum in carving out a larger local market share. How? That's the challenge.

11. Troy Calhoun. With so many seniors and high expectations, Air Force's head football coach has to be reassessing his program after a frustrating 7-6 season. Though the Falcons will be much younger in 2012, their schedule will be less foreboding (other than a Sept. 8 trip to Michigan). We'll see how the staff and players respond.

12. Amy Stephens and Marsha Looper. These Republican state legislators can't be separated after reapportionment put them into the same House district. So far, both are intent on battling it out in the GOP primary June 26, but they also have some lawmaking to do starting next week. We'll see whether their rivalry reaches inside the state Capitol as well.


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