COLORADO SPRINGS — Mayor John Suthers is entering his final months in office as the Mayor of Colorado Springs. Throughout the last eight years, Colorado Springs has seen its fair share of changes.
In part, those changes can be pointed back to Mayor Suthers influence on voters in Colorado Springs. During his time in office he's passed several initiatives when it comes to how the city's money should be spent and how much money the city should have.
One of the biggest indicators of his influence comes with the passing of a fee to fund stormwater projects in 2017. It's something Suthers focused on heavily in his first two years in office.
"We not only had a physically deficient but a legally deficient stormwater system,” Suthers said as he pointed to three lawsuits the city was facing when he took office. Through community polling, Suthers learned stormwater wouldn't do well with voters in 2015 and he said he spent the next two years educating the community on the need to improve the system.
"It took education and it took communication and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at that over the last 35 years," Suthers said. Throughout his political career, Suthers has held offices as District Attorney and Attorney General before serving as his hometown's mayor.
Stormwater is also an example of Suther's philosophy on political leadership as a whole.
“In a lot of ways political leadership is convincing the public what they ought to want, why they ought to want it and how to get it, and I think that’s real political leadership," Suthers said.
Stormwater is something he points to as one of his proudest accomplishments and it's not something most people notice. Another thing he's proud of during his time in office, is the changing landscape of downtown.
"One of the things that's very amusing to me When I ran in 2015 a lot of people were saying oh there's not enough cranes, building stuff things like that then they also complained young people are moving away," Suthers said. "my biggest complaints right now there's too much construction, too many cranes and young people have taken over the town, and I get a kick out of that."
When it comes to anything he regrets in office, Suthers looks back at his time in the mayor's office with great pride but says there's one ballot issue he wish he didn't compromise on with the city council.
That was the Trails and Open Space (TOPS) tax increase question in 2021. Voters rejected it as it increased the tax from %.10 to %.20. Suthers felt he was betraying his political instincts and instead wanted a %.15 increase.
Colorado Springs has no doubt been through a lot of tragedies in the last eight years as well and during those times of mass shootings, natural disasters, and even a personal tragedy in Mayor Suther's family he said he felt those experiences showed how Colorado Springs can move through difficult times.
"It’s a different kind of leadership and it’s a different kind of leadership when you have these tragedies. Your job as Mayor is to make sure your community is not defined by the tragedy itself but how you respond to it." Suthers said.
When Suthers leaves office in June, he plans to take on part-time roles with a law firm and some community boards. While he said he won't run for elected office again, he said he's not ruling out an appointed position.
"If the president calls and wants me to be Attorney General of the United States, I’m there,” Suthers said.
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