Jan 26, 2011 6:49 PM by Zach Thaxton
Douglas Bruce, a proponent of November's "strong mayor" issue, says the newly-created executive position paying $96,000 will not be all it was cracked up to be and that City Council "is where the action is."
Bruce formally announced his candidacy for an at-large council seat Tuesday, putting an end to speculation that he may run for mayor. He becomes the 15th person to formally announce candidacy for one of five open at-large council seats, and the 20th person overall to announce a bid for City Council.
In a noontime press conference at the City Administration Building, Bruce said, "I've disagreed with practically every financial decision they've made in the past decade," as he distributed a handout he entitled '40 Examples of Wasteful City Spending.' "I'm running, and I say this half in jest, because I want to be the budgetary 'Watch Doug' for the City Council."
Among the key examples of what he calls "wasteful" spending by City Council over the last decade, Bruce lists the citizens commission hired to advise on the future of Memorial Hospital, money spent to entice the U.S. Olympic Committee to remain headquartered in Colorado Springs, and the cost of the proposed Southern Delivery System pipeline from Pueblo County to Colorado Springs. "We need to stop the Southern Delivery System and reverse the water rate increases that are going to pay for it," Bruce said.
Despite the enticing salary of the newly-created "strong mayor" position, Bruce said the position still wield less overall influence than a united majority of City Council members. "The Council is where the power is. People don't understand that," Bruce said. "The Council is the legislative body. The mayor cannot pass any ordinances."
"It isn't a 'strong mayor' because the mayor has no control over utilities, which is a billion-dollar-a-year enterprise," Bruce continued, "no control over the hospital, no control over what the City Council puts on the ballot."
City Council positions are part-time jobs that pay $6,250 per year. Bruce says he will remain financially viable by continuing to sell local properties he owns and living off of savings and investments accumulated over several decades.
Bruce is perhaps the most influential and polarizing political figure in Colorado's modern history, having authored the historic Taxpayers' Bills of Rights in 1991 and 1992 for Colorado Springs and the State of Colorado. Each mandates voter approval of all tax increases and restricts the growth of government. He also authored a voter-approved ballot issue to end the city's Stormwater Enterprise fees. As a state legislator, he came under heavy criticism for a physical encounter with a Denver news photographer on the floor of the State House of Representatives. Bruce has vast name recognition and legions of both supporters and detractors.
"I don't think it's my job, or any elected official's job, or any candidate's job to endear yourself to people," Bruce said. "There will certainly be people that make a point of not voting for me, and that's fine, but this is not about personality. This is about principle and it's about public policy."
The City of Colorado Springs municipal election is Tuesday, April 5. It is a mail-in ballot election. Registered voters should receive their mail-in ballots by mid-March.
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