Meet the City Council candidates:

       The Westside Pioneer asked the District 3 candidates for some basic personal information and to respond to three topical questions. The personal information pertained to age, family, how long they've lived in District 3 (an area that covers the southwest part of the city) and career.
       NOTE: Candidates supplied their photos.
       The three questions were:
       1. Who is your choice for mayor and why?
       2. How would your election benefit the Westside?
       3. Do you support TABOR as is, or would you like to modify it or repeal it?

Michael Merrifield
       Age: 64.
       Family: Divorced, 2 children, ages 40 and 37. Two grandchildren and one great grandchild.
       How long in District 3: Nine years.
       Career: Retired public school teacher.
       1. Choice for mayor. I believe it is inappropriate for me to risk creating a conflict with our future mayor. In this new legislative/executive system of governing, working effectively on City Council will require close collaboration with whoever becomes mayor.
       2. Benefit the Westside. During my eight years in the state legislature and four years on Manitou Springs City Council, I have created a broad network of relationships at the local and state level that will be invaluable in finding solutions to various issues such as the Highway 24 corridor, open space maintenance and preservation, and green energy development. I will be able to negotiate through the halls of the capitol for the benefit of District 3.
       3. TABOR. I do support TABOR's requirement that the people vote on major financial commitments made by the city. However, I oppose most of the specific and deleterious TABOR elements in the city charter. Most egregious is the ratchet and cap effect on the budgeting process. Colorado Springs is the only city in the state that has its own version of TABOR in addition to the state's constitutional version. It puts us at a great disadvantage when competing with other Front Range cities. We should consider removing the city's TABOR restrictions. At a minimum, we should take a 3-5 year timeout from TABOR's restrictions, or the city will never recover from this recession. This is not just my own view; many city leaders - including the current mayor and District 3's current councilman - are in agreement on this point.

Lisa Czelatdko
       Age: 40.
       Family: Married to Tom for 14 years. We have four daughters.
       How long in District 3: Since 2004, when we moved to Colorado Springs.
       Career: Community volunteer on numerous community and city-appointed boards and commissions, including Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Citizen Advisory Committee and Colorado Springs Historic Preservation Board.

       1. Choice for mayor. I am looking forward to working with whomever our next mayor will be. Through my experience working with others on projects I have been both a leader and a team player. I am committed to supporting the new mayor and will lead the effort to increase communication between City Council, El Paso County, and various community partners to benefit our district and Colorado Springs. It is going to take great relationships and collaboration throughout the region to best utilize our limited resources.
       2. Benefit the Westside. District 3 is my home and I am personally dedicated to serving District 3 and the community. I care about the schools because my children are in them. I am in the parks, on the trails, in the restaurants and supporting the district businesses. As your District representative I will be involved in neighborhood issues and concentrate on projects because I want District 3 to be vibrant. Projects improving areas like No Man's Land, Westside, the Cimarron and I-25 interchange, a “do no harm” vision for Highway 24 West, public safety, parks and open space, the Westside historic overlay zone, and supporting downtown all need to be fought for. As your city councilor, I will dedicate myself to being accessible, fiscally accountable, approachable, easy to work with, and the strong voice District 3 needs and deserves.
       3. TABOR. I support the very important part of TABOR that enables citizens to vote on increased taxes and tax policy changes. Now is not the time to be modifying our tax policies when we are in a recession. As your city councilor, I will look within our budget, prioritize and determine if there are internal cost savings, and work on offering city services at reduced costs along with other innovative solutions. Lisa C for District 3.