The ‘Why’ Behind the Chamber’s City Council Endorsements
Ballots for the City Council elections have been sent and are due back by April 2. This is the time when people in the business community turn to us for our recommendations about who to support. We announced our endorsements two weeks ago. They are:
- Mayor – Karen Weitkunat
- District 1 (northeast part of town) – Butch Stockover
- District 3 (southeast) – Gino Campana
- District 5 (west central) – Ross Cunniff
Typically we don’t go into a great deal of background information, but I want to share a few insights with you that led Chamber leaders to these endorsements.
Mayor: Karen Weitkunat
- Mayor Weitkunat earned the Chamber’s endorsement due to her long record of public service. She has the knowledge and experience to effectively lead the work of the Council and represent the community.
- Eric Sutherland is articulate but lacks Mayor Weitkunat’s experience and is a single-issue candidate i.e., disgruntled with the Rocky Mountain Innosphere financing.
District 1: Butch Stockover
- Butch Stockover earned the Chamber’s endorsement due to his 16 years of city government-related experience on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning & Zoning Board. His experience as a one-time small business owner in Fort Collins is a plus. He is quiet and thinks before he speaks. Of the four candidates in this race, he has the most balanced perspective.
- M.L. Johnson has a long record of public service on the school board. That might translate well and generally is a plus. We found him uninformed on city government issues, however, and he is not incisive when discussing community issues.
- Bob Overbeck is behind the two above-mentioned candidates in relevant public experience. He did not seem very interested in business or economic issues, and he declined an economic briefing by the Chamber. It’s not clear that he would be accessible to business or care about the business perspective, if elected.
- Bryan Payne is a newcomer to politics. We found him to be a nice, sincere young man who wants to contribute to the community. He has no civic experience and was generally uninformed about community issues.
District 3: Gino Campana
- Gino Campana earned the Chamber’s endorsement due to his service to the community on the Planning & Zoning Board. We found him to be generally well-informed on most city-related issues. Additionally, his family has been in the community for a long time, which brings an appreciation for and understanding of Fort Collins.
- Lynda Blake is a newcomer to Fort Collins and was generally uninformed about community issues. We were not clear on why she is running or what she believes. On the plus side, she was eager to get an economic briefing and has been accessible. We sense that if elected she would at least be open to hearing various perspectives.
District 5: Ross Cunniff
- Ross Cunniff earned the Chamber’s endorsement because of his service to the community on the school board. We are not convinced, yet, that Mr. Cunniff cares about business in general (‘local’ business, yes, but not business in general) or the economy. If elected, only time will tell if he is willing to seek all perspectives. Even in the face of those concerns, his public experience won the day, as did our expectation that he could grow in office, if elected.
- Patrick Edwards would bring a needed perspective to the Council, a young perspective. That view will be lost as Aislinn Kottwitz leaves the Council. We found Patrick to be engaging and bright. His inexperience was his biggest negative.
Several resources are available that might be useful to you. The candidates all filled out questionnaires, which are posted at FortCollinsWorks.com under the Candidate Positions icon. On the same site, you’ll also find the results of a recent public opinion poll under the Voter Research icon. Finally, you can find video of the City Council Candidates Forum at http://vzaar.com/videos/1194940 and the Mayoral Candidates Forum can be found at http://vzaar.com/videos/1194945.
This is an important election for the community. Please take time to vote!