Distinctions drawn in city election

Apr 1, 2015 | Uncategorized

In a recent column, veteran Coloradoan reporter Kevin Duggan referred to city election time in Fort Collins as “silly season.”

Based on things I’ve seen, read and heard, that’s a pretty good moniker.

After attending three candidate forums, visiting candidate websites, reading candidate literature and media articles and profiles, I’ve come to the conclusion that you could call it “parsing season.” As words get parsed, at times you have to listen carefully to figure out where some candidates stand.

On some issues, however, there is a distinct contrast between candidates. Here are a few examples of clarity from this election-silly-parsing season.

Candidates fall into two camps on job creation and the economy: some want to be proactive in creating good-paying jobs; others believe that Fort Collins being a nice place is good enough.

The economy here is good compared to many places. Yet, we do have challenges including underemployment — we’re seventh in the nation — and growing poverty. Candidates favoring a more proactive jobs program include Wade Troxell, Ray Martinez, Eric Kronwall and Gerry Horak. Three of them — Troxell, Martinez and Horak — have actual results from their service on the Council.

In contrast, Ward Luthi, Nancy Tellez, Kristen Stephens and Carl Wangsvick all support a passive approach to economic health, believing that just having a nice town is good enough. Mike Pruznick’s position on job creation is unclear to me.

Another issue that clearly separates the candidates into two camps is the widening of Interstate 25.

The interstate is already a problem but will become an acute problem quickly unless it is widened to three lanes each way between Colorado Highway 14 in Fort Collins and Colorado Highway 66 north of Longmont. A one-hour drive to Denver will routinely take three hours within 15 years.

Troxell, Martinez, Kronwall and Horak are all on the record supporting widening I-25 while protecting the option for adding train service when feasible in the future. As part of the I-25 Coalition, Horak has already helped secure $40 million for the cause.

In contrast, Luthi, Pruznick, Tellez, Stephens and Wangsvick oppose widening I-25.

A third issue where there are two camps is whether to fix the traffic choke-point at Lemay Avenue and Vine Drive. Troxell, Martinez, Kronwall and Horak support finding a solution. In contrast, with some word parsing candidates Tellez and Stephens basically said no, Wangsvick was a firm no and Luthi and Pruznick seemed to say no when asked at the Coloradoan forum on March 11.

The final area of contrast involves relevant experience and leadership. Troxell, Martinez and Horak have a combined 31 years of service on the Fort Collins City Council. They are known to the public and have demonstrated the ability to work with others for the greater good of the community. Luthi, Pruznick, Stephens, Kronwall and Wangsvick have not held public office. Tellez has served on the school board.

At the end of a lot of talking and written words, there are some important distinctions between the candidates on issues that matter to the community.

The last thing to say is “thank you” to all of the candidates for putting their names up for public office.

Column originally published by The Fort Collins Coloradoan March 26, 2015