by Rick Langenberg
The end of a somewhat contentious political season in Teller County will conclude with a showdown between two well-known fiscal watchdogs in Woodland Park’s April 3 mayoral race. Two current council members, Dave Turley and Betty Clark-Wine, have entered the contest that will determine the successor to Steve Randolph and the person who will lead the council for the next four years. The mayoral battle is the city’s only contested race this spring.
Both candidates are well-known figures in the community. Clark-Wine serves as the Teller County Assessor and has been on the council for the last four years. Turley, a council member for the last two years, has been involved as an officer for Teller County Republican Central Committee and with the American Legion and Pikes Peak Rotary Club. Ironically, they both share similar views on many issues and have gained reputations for scrutinizing the city’s spending habits and monitoring the activities of the Downtown Development Corporation. They haven’t hesitated in grilling the city staff on various plans regarding such matters as health care, affordable housing, community investment, water resources and the realignment of the DDA district.
The mayoral election will cap the city’s municipal election, which will be conducted through the familiar mail-ballot forum. Besides the mayoral race, voters will decide the fate three council seats, none of which are being contested.
In addition, citizens will vote on a city-sponsored ballot proposition, calling for an end to the prohibition against offering future and current business operators, developers and property owners certain financial incentives. The ban, first approved in 1988 and then reaffirmed in 2002, would still require the city to adopt further rules, even if it is lifted. Another part of the ballot question calls for residents to allow the city to use the Internet and social media sites for disclosing its regular expenditures, instead of a designated legal newspaper. The latter aspect of this ballot question hasn’t been discussed much.
However, the incentive question has commanded much debate. Proponents say the town’s anti-incentive law is archaic and originally designed to prevent a threat that no longer exists. Plus, they say that Woodland Park is facing growing competition from other communities in attracting future businesses. Critics, including some current business owners, accuse the city of creating an unfair playing field with this measure and playing with a rigged deck, aimed at driving small operators out of town. Woodland Park voters, who should receive their ballots within the next two weeks, must drop off their final tallies at city hall no later than 7 p.m. on April 3.