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Mayoral candidate profile: Mary Lou Makepeace - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Mayoral candidate profile: Mary Lou Makepeace

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Colorado Springs mayoral candidate Mary Lou Makepeace Colorado Springs mayoral candidate Mary Lou Makepeace
Mary Lou Makepeace has been here before.  The candidate for Colorado Springs mayor previously served in the same position for six years, from 1997 to 2003.  Prior to that, she served 12 years on Colorado Springs City Council.  Now, she's seeking a second stint as mayor, this time in the city's new 'strong mayor' form of governance.

Makepeace is campaigning on a platform of bottom-up rather than top-down, meaning ideas and decisions about the future of the city should come from the citizens to the elected officials rather than the other way around.  "What are they willing to pay for? What do they want to get rid of? That's the kind of input I would want from the citizens," Makepeace said in an interview with News5.  "People, when they don't feel like they have a voice, they'll vote no or say no or get disengaged," she continued.  "I'm very much pro-citizen-input to the decisions that we make."

News5 asked Makepeace about her position on several key issues, including controversial City for Champions project.  Makepeace favors three of the four elements of the project -- the new Air Force Academy visitors center, U.S. Olympic museum, and a sports medicine and performance center at UCCS.  She says she isn't sold yet on a proposed downtown sports and events center -- the controversial stadium aspect of the project.  "Many communities have built like kinds of facilities, thinking, 'If we build it, they will come.'  Well, if that doesn't work out, then the taxpayers are responsible for keeping it running," Makepeace said.  "I just want to know what the plan is so the taxpayers don't have to foot that bill."

Makepeace is among many who believe addressing a massive backlog of stormwater repair and improvement projects requires a regional approach with the inclusion of neighboring municipalities -- a notion rejected by voters in 2014.  In order to make that approach palatable to voters in the future, Makepeace says a new approach is needed.  "I think the average voter thought something along these lines:  What is stormwater? My basement didn't flood or my road didn't flood -- how am I involved," Makepeace said.  "So, there's a big education program to be done there."

Regarding the often-contentious relationship between the mayor's office and City Council during the administration of departing mayor Steve Bach, Makepeace said, "I don't think there's a person in the community who doesn't think that needs improving."  Makepeace says in order for the 'strong mayor' form of governance to work, both sides need to be willing to compromise.  "I would like to get away from that term, 'strong mayor,'" Makepeace said.  "How about 'strong leader' who will bring the community together, who will bring City Council and the mayor's office together, who will foster dialogue and discussions about the problems that we have?  That's what I would like to be."

Makepeace says her breadth of municipal government experience sets her apart from the other leading mayoral candidates.  "I can hit the ground running on day one because I've been there, I've done that.  I know the city and I bring that expertise to the job," Makepeace said.  "I believe Colorado Springs needs some strong leadership.  I have that, I know the city, and I have the skills to get us back on track to being a great place."

The Colorado Springs mail-ballot municipal election is set for April 7.  If no mayoral candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face off in a mail-ballot runoff election on May 19.

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