PUEBLO – A transition is underway in Pueblo. Mayor-elect Nick Gradisar held meetings Wednesday to discuss strategy for assuming his newly created office. In 2017, Pueblo voters passed a charter amendment to restructure city government so that an elected mayor is the chief executive rather than an appointed city manager.
“We’re going to be reviewing obviously staff positions, what kind of positions do we want to have in the mayor’s office, how are we going to approach the city staff that’s already there and what steps to take,” Gradisar said about the meeting.
He added that he has already been in contact with Sam Mamet, the Executive Director of the Colorado Municipal League, who offered his support during the transition. Gradisar also hopes to get some advice from other mayors around the state including Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
A before-and-after comparison of Pueblo’s City Charter reveals the mayor will have very similar job duties as those of the city manager that he is replacing. One key difference is the direct election of mayors. Also, the department heads in city government will now have a seat on the new mayor’s cabinet.
One of those cabinet posts will be held by the deputy mayor, who will be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by city council. The deputy mayor must be the director of at least one city department and would serve as the acting mayor in the event of a vacancy until another election can be held.
Finally, the mayor has veto power over any new ordinances passed by the city council. The council can override the mayor’s veto with a minimum 5-2 vote.
Gradisar hasn’t hinted at any names for who he would like to see fill key positions in his administration. However, he said a major priority in the weeks ahead will be to establish relationships with appointed and elected leaders in both state and federal government.
“We want to let them know that there’s a new day in Pueblo and that we’re going to be knocking on their door because we’re going to need their help to move this community forward,” Gradisar said. “We’re going to be a presence in Denver and Washington DC as well.”
Those aren’t the only advocates Gradisar wants in his corner as he takes the reins of city government.
“We’re counting on everybody to get involved in this government,” he said. “We want to engage as many citizens as possible. That’s how I think we’re going to make this change successful, that’s how I think we’re going to move the community forward.”
Gradisar will be leaving his law practice during this transition period. The charter amendment prevents anyone serving as mayor from holding additional paid public or private employment.
Ordinarily, a mayor would assume office on the second Tuesday in January following an election. However, Gradisar and former City Council President Steve Nawrocki were still in the midst of a runoff election until last night.
In fact, Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz said on Tuesday that he expects to certify the results of the election by January 30th. A formal date for Gradisar to take the oath of office has not yet been scheduled.