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Editor's note: Westside Pioneer's Q/A with City Council candidates

       Districts 1 and 3, among the six geographically represented areas on Colorado Springs City Council that are up for election April 4, are the ones taking in the Westside. District 1 covers the northwest part of the city, D-3 the southwest, with the division roughly along Fillmore Street and lower Pleasant Valley.
       As a major part of the Westside Pioneer's election coverage, we asked questions of the two candidates in District 1 and the two in District 3.
       In District 1, the incumbent is Don Knight, who was elected in 2013. He is being challenged by Greg Basham.
       The Pioneer submitted the same questions to both D-1 candidates. The article below consists of the Pioneer questions to and written responses from Knight. For Basham's responses to the Pioneer questions, go to this link.
       (For District 3, Chuck Fowler's Q/A is at this link; and Richard Skorman's Q/A is at this link.)
       The D-1 questions were:
       1. Various development plans for the Mesa (mainly Mesa Road, Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street, bounded roughly by Uintah, 30th Street and the north end of Kissing Camels) have spurred Comprehensive Plan concerns from existing Mesa residents about aesthetics, sightlines, traffic and other impacts. As a councilmember, what will be your response to these concerns?
       2. What is the best approach for the Drake power plant?
       3. What are the top three goals you hope to accomplish if elected?

Q/A: City Council District 1 candidate
Don Knight

Courtesy of Don Knight
       Age: 62.
       Family: Married, three children.
       Years in District 1: 23 years.
       Years in the city: 23 years.
       Career: 26 years in USAF, retiring at the rank of colonel. Ten years in the defense industry at the director level. Four years as the District 1 City Councilmember.

       1. Mesa development. A key goal for my second term is repairing our infrastructure without raising taxes. To do so, we need economic growth which means new development. Thus I support the new Penrose hospital and the completion of Centennial to Fontanero.
       However, the first rule I learned in 10 years of business development is to protect your base. For City Council, our base is the people, businesses and neighborhoods who already invested in Colorado Springs. To me, their voice is a critical input before council votes on any new development.
       Thus I voted on council against the city’s new infill plan, which sees public process as a financial burden to developers, and against an ordinance that would keep neighborhoods from appealing any development more than 500 feet away. Success is when the neighbors and developers can reach a compromise like the Mesa community did with the assisted living complex at Fillmore and Centennial.
       2. Drake power plant. Council voted to close Drake by 2035. While I voted against it, I respect the decision. My sole objection was that council failed to look at how the year 2035 sequenced in with the construction of Southern Delivery System Phase II so as not to have multiple – or any – years of double-digit rate increases to our customers.
       As we replace Drake, we must keep our electric production portfolio to 40 percent coal, 40 percent gas and 20 percent renewable to avoid higher rates when natural gas prices again rise above the cost of coal. This means adding new coal production capability at Clear Springs Ranch south of town. Fortunately, the technology is already here to properly filter out CO2 and keep our environment safe.
       As to the land where Drake sits, the costs are not in yet on keeping the site; selling as is; or cleaning up previous contamination, then selling.
       3. Top three goals.Attract/retain businesses. While on council, we approved a Commercial Aeronautical Zone around the airport which has already brought in over 2,000 high-paying jobs. I am now working to extend the CAZ to the entire city to encourage new aircraft businesses to locate within District 1 with the same tax benefits.
       2) Improve infrastructure without raising taxes. Our major infrastructure needs are roads and stormwater. We addressed our roads through Issue 2C which I supported. With the potential of $12 million in TABOR excess from 2016 and 2017, I believe we can, and should, fund our stormwater needs within our budget.
       3) Keep Utilities citizen-owned. I support raising the voter requirement to sell utilities from a simple majority to a supermajority. On Governance though, I believe we need a separate Board whose members have the business experience to oversee a $1B a-year company. But only if it is elected; not appointed.

(Posted 3/13/17; Politics: City/County)

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