Knight, King seek to up council’s effectiveness

       Westside voters helped elect a Knight and a King to Colorado Springs City Council in the April 2 election.

Don Knight

Keith King

       Whether Don Knight (Dis-trict 1) and Keith King (District 3) can “royally” succeed is unknown, but in separate interviews afterward both expressed delight at their dominating triumphs and a shared priority of boosting the city's economic vitality.
       The two will be sworn in Tuesday, April 16, along with counterparts from the four other districts who are also new to council.
       “I'm on Cloud 9 right now,” said Knight, a military veteran and defense industry employee whose 9,141 votes represented 55 percent of the total with four other candidates. “I figured it would be a very close race, and I had my fingers crossed. So a majority vote out of five people was a surprise.”
       Knight's nearest competitor was incumbent Tim Leigh, with 3,270 votes.
       King did not have quite as big a margin in beating back another incumbent, Brandy Williams, and three other challengers. He amassed 5,737 votes to her 4,949, Former County Commissioner Jim Bens-berg was third with 2,414.
       “I was really honored with the vote,” said King, who has previously served as a Cheyenne school board member, state representative and state senator and has also started four charter schools. “I was surprised by the margin I had.”
       D-1 covers the city's northwest and D-3 its southwest. The boundary between them runs roughly along Uintah Street and (west of 31st) the streets north of Colorado Avenue.
       The other four council newbies are Joel Miller, D-2 (north); Helen Collins, D-4 (southeast); Jill Gaebler, D-5 (central); and Andres Pico, D-6 (east).
       The other losing incumbents are Angela Dougan, D-2; and Bernie Herpin, D-5.
       Leigh and Williams are both at-large councilmembers finishing up two-year terms, but with the next at-large election two years off, they had to win district seats to stay in office.
       Scott Hente, the D-1 incumbent and council president, was term-limited after eight years in office. In D-3, two-year incumbent Lisa Czelatdko did not run again, citing personal reasons.
       All six new councilmembers will serve four-year terms.
       Knight said two issues he wants to jump on soon are bringing airlines back to the city airport and reconsidering an ordinance to allow drilling for gas or oil using hydraulic fracturing (known as fracking) - an issue that directly affects the city's far east side.
       The latter is also a priority with King. Both men want to see council reconsider the ordinance that failed on a 4-4-1 vote last month and they are in favor of it. In that vote, Hente was opposed and Czelatdko absent.
       “I expect it to come back up rather quickly,” Knight said, adding that his support is based on keeping restrictions in that ordinance protecting residential areas.
       “We need to move fracking forward,” King said. “We need to tell people in the city and state that we're open for business.”
       Also high on King's list is helping city governance work more effectively. “The message from the voters was pretty clear,” he said. “People want a different council, one that works with the mayor and with each other, and they want change.”
       He admitted it won't be easy, with a council that “spans the political spectrum.” But he believes he can help bring about a “bipartisan” attitude so the group can work as a “true legislative body.”

Westside Pioneer article