Voters in Colorado Springs will elect a third of City Council at the April 2 city election, as well as a mayor.
Eleven are vying for three at-large posts on the nine-member Council; some have never held elective office and others are old hands in politics.
Three candidates, meanwhile, are challenging Mayor John Suthers' bid for re-election. None has name recognition or experience in city government, making a viable campaign an uphill climb — although one, John Pitchford has loaned his campaign $104,000.
Here's a look at the candidates, starting with Council contenders (listed in the order they appear on the ballot):
Gordon Klingenschmitt, 51, gordonforcolorado.com. An Air Force Academy grad, he served as a Navy chaplain and runs an evangelistic TV show, Pray in Jesus Name. He served one term in the Colorado House of Representatives for the 15th district, leaving in 2017. In campaign materials, he calls for "faster, better, cheaper government" and complains that "liberals ... rule City Council." He's known for extreme views and outlandish statements. He once suggested then-Congressman Jared Polis (now governor) wanted to behead Christians. Another time he alleged the Affordable Care Act causes cancer.
Bill Murray, 69. Seeking a second term, Murray is a retired Army colonel, who came to Colorado Springs in 2008. He holds bachelor's degrees in business from Athens State College (Alabama) and political science/history from the University of Alabama, and a master's degree in administration from Central Michigan University. A maverick on Council known for his outspoken ways, he's served on several community boards and has traveled the world, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Val Snider, 64, valsnider.com. A former Councilor (2011-2015), Snider is a retired Air Force officer who holds a bachelor's degree in criminology and physical education from Murray State University, and a master's degree in business administration from the University of South Dakota. He's lived in the Springs for 26 years and has served as a city planning commissioner. He's seeking a Council seat "to fully utilize his first experience and lessons learned on city council to serving the city in a positive proactive way." If elected, he'll focus on parks maintenance funding and "maintaining the momentum and vibrancy generated by Mayor Suthers and the current City Council."
Wayne Williams, 56, winwithwayne.org. Having lost his bid for re-election as Colorado secretary of state last November, Williams is seeking a Council seat as a possible pathway to succeed Suthers as mayor in 2023. Williams earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and a law degree from University of Virginia. He also has served as an El Paso County commissioner and county clerk and recorder, and was a member of the Colorado Springs Housing Authority. Williams, who has experience in transportation issues and elections, says he'll concentrate on transportation and utilities infrastructure, as well as basic services, if he's elected.
Tony Gioia, 37, tony4cos.com. An Army veteran, Gioia served on the El Paso County Planning Commission, and currently serves on the Colorado Springs Citizens Transportation Advisory Board, as well as the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee. He's volunteered for numerous Republican political campaigns and currently sells real estate. He wants to bring "new, fresh ideas" to Council and vows, if elected, to "work toward maximizing a healthy, open environment for people and businesses to thrive." His first child is expected to be born during the campaign. (Disclosure: Gioia formerly worked in distribution at the Independent.)
Terry Martinez, 55, martinez4cos.org. A third generation Colorado Springs resident, Martinez lost a Democratic primary bid in House District 18 last year. Martinez was an educator for more than 30 years, retiring after serving as principal of Will Rogers Elementary School. He's volunteered for years in various organizations that cope with homelessness and affordable housing and says he wants to bring "his experience, a servant's heart, and problem-solving skills to City Council."
Regina English, 46. A Michigan native, English is Mrs. El Paso County 2019. She founded her own pageant system YES M.A.A.M. (My African American Miss) to promote leadership, life skills and community service. She also founded Be You-Be U, a nonprofit that mentors young people. She holds a bachelor's degree in management and is pursuing a master's degree in public administration. She's a board member for the African American Youth Leadership Conference.
Tom Strand, 70, standwithstrandcos.com. A former Colorado Springs School District 11 board member, Strand is seeking a second term on Council. He's chair of the Colorado Springs Utilities Board and generally votes with the majority and endorses mayoral initiatives. A retired Air Force JAG officer, Strand notes in his candidate announcement that he helped pass the 2C roads tax in 2015 and a stormwater fee in 2017. He also cites a revived local economy as one of his accomplishments.
Randy Tuck, 61. A 50-year resident of Colorado Springs, Tuck attended Palmer High School and has worked in commercial construction, becoming a general licensed contractor. He ended his career in upper management while employed for M.A. Mortenson Co. Tuck says he'll focus on providing "a hand up to our homeless" and work toward "building a strong, safe and economically vibrant Colorado Springs."
Athena Roe, 56. A 20-year resident of the city, Roe advocates for the elderly and for measures to protect seniors and dependent adults in the probate system. She received a law degree from the University of Denver law school and formerly worked for drug companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Purdue Frederick (now Purdue Pharma). A 2018 graduate of Leadership Program of the Rockies, a nonprofit that promotes conservative ideas, Roe says she supports a reduction in property taxes, fewer regulatory constraints on small businesses and evaluation of licensing requirements.
Dennis Spiker, 28, dennisspiker4cs.com. An Army veteran who served in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Spiker is a full-time student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, pursuing a degree in political science. He's also a member of several student organizations, including the National Society of Leadership and Success. He completed a fellowship in Sen. Michael Bennet's office in Colorado Springs. Spiker calls himself "a proud supporter of the women's march" and the LGBT community, and says he is "openly gay."
Mayoral candidates (in ballot order):
- Courtesy Lawrence Martinez
- Lawrence Martinez
Lawrence Martinez, 57. A 2006 Community Leadership Program participant, Martinez completed the Leadership Pikes Peak program. He's served as a board member for El Cinco De Mayo and as a member of the Native American Leadership Forum. He's also volunteered at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and worked with the College Readiness Program at the El Pomar Foundation. Martinez ran for mayor in 2015. He works in home health care.
- J. Adrian Stanley
- John Suthers
John Suthers, 67, suthersformayor.com. A Colorado Springs native, Suthers has served as district attorney, Colorado Department of Corrections director, U.S. Attorney and Colorado attorney general. He's proven a popular mayor, pushing through voter approval of a streets tax and stormwater fee. But he's also gotten cross-wise with some residents over open space and development issues. Suthers says if elected, he'll focus his second term on public safety, affordable housing and homelessness, as well as completing the components of City for Champions, a tourism venture that includes the downtown Olympic Museum, a downtown stadium and other venues. He also wants to finish the effort to open a new Pikes Peak Summit House and repaired Cog Railway.
- Courtesy John Pitchford
- John Pitchford
John Pitchford, 71. An Army brat, Pitchford enlisted in the Army in 1967, later graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry and re-entered the Army. He retired in 1995. He then had a private dental practice in Plano, Texas, where he ran for a Texas House seat but lost. He moved to Colorado Springs in 2016. He says while in the Dental Corps, he ended a practice of senior officers stocking their private practices with Army-funded equipment and supplies. "It is my experience in owning a business coupled with an interest in supporting the best practices in governmental operations that propels my campaign for mayor," he says.
- Courtesy JJuliette Parker
- Juliette Parker
Juliette Parker, 37, parkerforcos.com. The daughter of an Army colonel, Parker moved frequently as a youth. She eventually came to Colorado Springs and founded MENDA, a nonprofit that works to build self-sufficient, full-service, tiny home villages for homeless people. She says she's been homeless herself and believes in the power of work. "I believe that a fiscally responsible government, combined with transparency will allow you to keep more of your money in your pocket, still fix our existing problems through good management, and will boost our economy," she says on her website.Editor's note: This story has been updated to note Tony Gioia's previous employment at the Independent.