City Election Capped by Most Competitive Council Showdown In Years

Candidates Field Questions on Various Hot Topics at Forum

Trevor Phipps

Within the next two weeks, Woodland Park residents will have the chance to cast their votes in one of the most competitive city council elections in recent history.

Voters must choose the top four city council members out of a candidate lineup of eight contenders. This represents one of the largest and most diverse candidate fields during a recent city council election. In fact, in some years, little or no competition occurred for these seats.

That is certainly not the case for 2024. Part of the record interest may be due to the fact that this year five elected seats (four council seats and a mayoral position) are up for grabs.

Ballots, which have already been mailed out, must be returned by 7 p.m. on April 2.

Earlier this month the Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce held a candidates’ forum to give the public a chance to hear from each prospective council member and the two mayoral contenders. The candidates each got a chance to introduce themselves and then answers questions covering a wide variety of topics.

In our most recent March 12 issue, we outlined some of the hot issues and highlighted comments made by mayoral candidates Kellie Case and Jerry Penland.

This week, our attention centers on the wide-open council races.

The following is a brief introduction of the eight city council candidates and a little of their background on local issues, along with a few highlights of comments made at the recent candidates’ forum.  For more information on the candidates visit the city’s website at 2024 City Council Candidates | Woodland Park, CO.

Frank Connors

Frank Connors is the only incumbent councilmember that is seeking a second term after being elected to a two-year term in 2022. During his introduction, Connors brought up several accomplishments that the council has done since he has been on the dais including the city’s new reservoir and the acquisition of land for open space.

“My proudest accomplishment was presenting the Purple Heart City designation as a request to our city council which they approved,” Connors said. “We have done some fun things too. We went to a Rocky Mountain Vibes baseball game and had a Woodland Park night at the ballpark with fireworks.”

Steve “Coach Smitty” Smith

Steve “Coach Smitty” Smith is a longtime resident who previously coached wrestling and football at the high school. He said that he is running for city council because citizens asked him to as they wanted someone fair and honest.

“I am a resident of Woodland Park for the past 30 years because of the hometown feeling, care and love this city once had,” Smith said. “I’d like to get that back into the community.”

Teri Baldwin

Teri Baldwin said that she comes from a professional background that includes law, mental health and education. She emphasized a need for better teamwork between council members and the importance of fostering an environment for better communications.

“I’m here to build bridges and find solutions,” Baldwin said. “I am running for city council because I think we need fresh voices to bring us together.”

George Jones

George Jones has been a resident of the city for seven years, has served on the planning commission and co-owns commercial property and two downtown businesses with his wife. Jones stressed that the city’s downtown region should started getting prepared for when a Hwy. 24 reliever route comes into the city.

“I believe this town needs experienced, committed and visionary people running a Woodland Park that is at an inflection point,” Jones said. “We are staring down business growth and college growth that is taxing on our resources.”

Don Dezellem

Don Dezellem has lived in the city for 33 years and he has been involved in the Pikes Peak Rotary Club, the charter review committee, the planning commission and the parks and recreation advisory board. He said that if elected he will be transparent and make decisions solely based on information provided by the city staff.

“It is vital to have candidates that are concerned and knowledgeable to represent the citizens and shareholders of Woodland Park,” Dezellem said. “I have attended city council meeting and work sessions for the last six years on a regular basis which has given me a knowledge of council history and procedures.”

Eric Lockman

Lockman has a background in electrical engineering and running businesses. He said he believes in fiscal responsibility, efficient government and policies that promote prosperity and opportunity for the community.

“I am a patriot and I’m driven by a genuine desire to contribute and serve the people around me and I would be honored to serve Woodland Park in the city council,” Lockman said. “As a parent of growing children, I am committed to promote policies and address concerns from all angles.”

Tim Northrup

Tim Northrup was also involved in the recent STR efforts and he said that he got the chance to listen to the concerns of thousands of residents in the process. He stressed the importance of the council working well with other local government entities and having quarterly collaborative meetings.

“It’s my passion to continue to serve and continue to listen and be a voice for the citizens,” Northrup said. “I want to be a citizens’ advocate for the city.”

Jeffrey Geer

Geer said that his main focus was to generate more collaboration within the community. He also emphasized the need for a focus on city infrastructure like securing water resources and fixing potholes.

“I find this community really awesome in a lot of different ways,” Geer said. “Unfortunately, we are dealing with a little bit of a temperature problem and my goal should you choose to elect me is to figure out a way to foster more collaboration to all of the different groups that aren’t getting along as well these days as we would like them to.”