Batson Wants Major Changes in the City’s Status Quo Leadership
Long-time resident Les Batson has once again put his name in the hat to become a key part of Cripple Creek city leadership,
But this time he is running for mayor. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get a spot on the city council, Batson is seeking the top spot in hopes to implement major changes in the direction Cripple Creek has pursued in the past several years.
In 2021, Batson ran for the Ward 5 Council seat against the incumbent Councilwoman Melissa Trenary. Batson came up short in the election, losing to Trenary 80 votes to 47.
He said that he decided to run for public office again because he doesn’t like how the city has been run in the 15 years he has lived in Cripple Creek. He believes that the city government should listen more to what the people of the town, such as the casino employees, need.
“I still have the same issues,” Batson said. “We were supposed to have 500 apartments and they still haven’t broken ground because the current council doesn’t want them to break ground. Because as soon as they break ground, that means they are going to lose their power come next election.”
He said that the housing projects, which has recently been built in the city, are too expensive for the local casino employees to afford. He explained that the new housing has only raised property values, causing citizens to pay higher taxes.
He applauded an idea previously discussed to address the affordable housing problem by using a housing authority. “That was designed strictly to keep the rents and the mortgages down to where the people that work here can actually afford them,” Batson explained. “All of these casinos here are short-handed because there is no place to live and nobody wants to spend the gas money to drive up the mountain for the same wages they can get at McDonalds.”
As far as the issue of city funding for more events, Batson says there are more pressing issues. “The events don’t help the town,” Batson stated. “All it does is cost us money that we could be putting somewhere else like more firemen or more policemen. Our PD is currently short-handed and our fire department is almost short-handed.”
He said that he thinks the town has to offer more than just gambling before hosting more events. He also expressed a concern with the lack of activities in the area for families.
“We don’t need more events,” the candidate said. “What we need is more entertainment for the people that live up here and the people that come up here with children that have already seen all of the museums.”
He talked about the city adding family entertainment options, such as a movie theater or a miniature golf course. He said that the council has previously focused too much on the gaming industry, and not enough on ways to attract families into the city.
But that said, Batson doesn’t think that the city’s infrastructure would have problems with the forthcoming events being planned, such as Ice Fest and the Ice Castles attraction. He did though emphasize the need for more money going into services, such as police and fire.
He said that the solution to many of the city’s staffing shortage issues boils back down to housing. He says residents live in employee housing because they can’t afford to live anywhere else.
Batson believes that if the city could help create more affordable housing options, then the employee housing could be used to either attract more employees or enable the casinos to have more hotel rooms for families. He reiterated the need for more family-friendly things to do in the city, and even mentioned the addition of a bowling alley.
“You have to look at the whole picture in this town and nobody wants to do that,” Batson blasted. “Why don’t we have police officers? Because there is nowhere for them to live. Why come up here for what we can offer in pay when they can stay down the mountain and probably get hired on by one of the larger departments and make more money and have more action going on?”
Overall, Batson aims to represent the people in the city, such as the the local working class. He believes that these workers have not been represented by the current leadership. According to Batson, most of the people who signed his mayoral petition to get on the ballot work in casinos.
“This whole system has to be fixed and the only way it can be fixed is if somebody represents the entire city and not the two special interest groups in this town,” Batson stated.