6 Things We Want in City Council Candidates

Jan 21, 2014 | Economy, Elections

Like it or not, for good or bad, city government has a big impact on business in Fort Collins. For the most part, the impact is good. A well run, financially strong, clean local government is a great asset for business.

However, while we enjoy good local government here in Fort Collins, we are only one vote away from a mess. Shift one of the positions on the current 7-member City Council towards the no-progress / no-growth end of the political spectrum, and economic progress lurches to a stop.

So, what can we do about that? The Chamber Board has made finding and supporting good people for election to the City Council in 2015 a top priority this year. In April 2015 four seats will be up for election: mayor, District 2 (east central Fort Collins; incumbent Lisa Poppaw is term-limited), District 4 (southwest Fort Collins; incumbent Wade Troxell is term-limited), and District 6 (northwest Fort Collins; incumbent Gerry Horak is completing one term and is eligible to serve again.)

Recently while explaining this to a group of business people, someone asked me to articulate what I mean by ‘good people’ when looking for Council candidates. Let me start by saying what we are NOT looking for. We do not want people who are dishonest and corrupt, we do not support people who are agenda-driven anti-progress ideologues, we are not interested in people who are uncommitted to the community and the job of Council, and we are not interested in novices who have shown little interest in civic engagement.

In contrast to that are a half-dozen things we want to see in City Council candidates: 

  • Honest. The key characteristic for an elected official is their honesty in both their actions and being intellectually honest with their approach to issues.
  • Balanced. A councilperson is a representative of all of the people, not a champion of a special interest group or a narrow perspective. Philosophically a good candidate is one that brings a balanced view. For example, they value the environment while understanding the need for a strong local economy; they support a viable street infrastructure while being open to alternative transportation. Being balanced also means being able to work well with professional city staff while not automatically deferring to their judgment.
  • Committed. Doing the job right requires a significant dedication of time and energy. Constituent relations, attending meetings and reading voluminous material in preparation for meetings are all part of the job. Do work and family circumstances lend themselves to this person doing a good job for the community?
  • Motivated. The primary motivation should be to serve the public interests. If this person is agenda-driven, power-hungry or captive to special interest agendas, s/he will not perform their duties with integrity and with a broader vision of what is in the interests of the overall community now and in the future. And, a good candidate must be motivated enough to campaign vigorously for the position.
  • Experienced. Does this person have experience in their work and civic life that lends itself to this position? Does this person have the knowledge of the position, the governance of local government and the issues to be an effective councilperson? Everybody has life experiences that would lend an interesting perspective to Council, but some are more useful to the public than others. Has this person really prepared to take on this important civic duty?
  • Electable. Does this person have the personal traits and the qualifications to make them a viable candidate in the eyes of the voting public?  Are there issues or experiences in this person’s past that help or hurt them with the electorate?

In 15 short months, we will be electing 4 people to a 7-member body that represents the other 150,000 people in town. It is very important to have people on the City Council who will represent us well with competence and integrity.

If you are interested in running for City Council or supporting good people who are, let me know at 970 482-3751 x 102 or at [email protected]. I also encourage you to visit the City Clerk’s website here to learn more about city elections.