May 5, 2010 11:09 PM by Jeannette Hynes

Strong Mayor supporters receive questions, input

Two sides of the "strong mayor" debate agree the growing city of Colorado Springs needs a full-time mayor.

"It can't be done by a part-time volunteer person.  We've grown past volunteers," says Jane Merritt from League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak region.

"We think it is time we had a full-time person who is accountable to the citizens and to the voters that runs this city," says Andy McElhany of Citizens for accountable leadership.

What they don't agree on is the day-to-day duties of that full-time mayor.

"We don't have to change the structure of government," argues Merritt.

 Change is what the members of "Citizens for accountable leadership" are looking for, and they're looking to the community to fine tune the ballot initiative, hosting a forum Wednesday afternoon at Stargazers Theatre.

"We think the more discussion we have on city government is a good thing.  Citizen input and discussion benefits everybody," says McElhany

Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera says he supports a strong mayor form of government, but he says this ballot needs more, not less.

"We have to look at all the potential unintended consequences and have the citizens vote on something that's really good for the city of Colorado Springs, not something that's easy to pass," says Rivera.

Rivera says his main issue deals with provision currently in the city charter.  The provision allows city council to appropriate surplus revenue from Colorado Springs Utilities to the general fund.  The current proposal, Rivera says, creates a conflict as City Council remains part of the utilities board, and the mayor strictly runs the city.

"This initiative needs to be comprehensive," says Rivera.

If the group receives enough signatures, Colorado Springs residents will see the ballot initiative on the November ballot.






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