by Rick Langenberg:
In one of the more pivotal municipal elections in years, voters in Woodland Park and Green Mountain will decide next Tuesday the fate of two mayoral seats, six council positions and three ballot propositions. The stakes are high for voters in both communities, as term-limits have opened the door for a bevy of new contenders. For example, Green Mountain Falls, a town that often has had to beg citizens to serve on their board of trustees, is featuring its most competitive slate in recent history with a record seven candidates. And no matter how the individual races play out, both Woodland Park and Green Mountain will have new mayors. Plus, citizens will determine key ballot issues, sponsored by elected leaders in both towns.
Here is what is at stake for the April 3 election: Woodland Park The main focus of Tuesday’s vote will hinge on a friendly and competitive rivalry between mayoral contenders Betty Clark-Wine and Dave Turley, who are both current council members and well-known in the community. The winner of this race will succeed Steve Randolph, a high-profile mayor, who has been the council’s main ambassador for the last four years. The stakes for this race are a little higher for Clark-Wine, a council member for the last four years and who also serves as the Teller County assessor. If Clark-Wine loses, she will be off the council. But if Turley falls short, he still can continue his current position on the city council for another two years. Both mayoral contenders have stressed their ties to the community and their respective voting records. Clark-Wine, who was elected as Teller assessor in 2010, sports an extensive background in real estate and as a business consultant. During her tenure on the council, she has gained quite a reputation for her “no” tallies against fiscal plans for salary increases, community investment programs, utility rate hikes and the city manager’s compensation agreement. Also, she has been an advocate for fewer regulations regarding such matters as signage. Turley, meanwhile, has stressed his roles in the community, holding leadership posts with the Pikes Peak Rotary Club, the Teller Republican Central Committee, the American Legion and a variety of youth-related organizations. He touts the fact that he has played a role in bringing major youth-related baseball tournaments to Woodland Park. Turley, who was elected to the council two years ago, has questioned many of the spending aspirations of city hall, such as a previous controversy over health care and city vehicle use by employees. However, he has ended up in the “yes” column on such matters as community investment programs and salary increases. But Turley has been a vocal critic of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the lack of success in revitalizing the former Saddle Club property. He cast the only “no” tally regarding the group’s latest bid to obtain revenue bonds from the city to foot $1.2 million in infrastructure for several new proposed business structures in the downtown. Turley argued that local taxpayers have been left holding the bag for too long and objected to the DDA incurring more debt and in providing incentives for companies that aren’t offering that many new business services in Woodland Park. Clark-Wine also has been critical of the DDA and especially its efforts to expand the district. However, she strongly supports the newest DDA infrastructure improvement plan, citing this as a way to generate $4.5 million in new construction.
Some of the other key local issues include plans for a new aquatic center, affordable housing rules, future development and the economy. Besides the mayoral contenders, council candidates Gary Brovetto, Bob Carlsen and Carrol Harvey are running unopposed. The council will lose a few veteran lame-duck leaders, including Randolph, Mayor Pro Tem Jon DeVaux and George Parkhurst. Citizens also will decide whether they want to declare an end to the prohibition against city hall offering financial incentives to current and future business operators and developers. This ban was implemented in 1988 and then reaffirmed in 2002, as part of a review of the city charter. Proponents of the new pro-incentives proposition say the town is crippled by an archaic law and cite the fact that Woodland Park can’t compete with other cities in the country in attracting key businesses. Critics, though, say it is not fair to use government money to compete against current operators, who have invested their life savings into running local shops and restaurants. Also, voters will decide if they want to use the Internet and social media sites, instead of a designated local newspaper, for listing monthly expenses. The city, in following its tradition since the mid-1990s, is running a mail-in ballot election. Ballots must be returned to city hall by 7 p.m. on April 3.