Heimlicher hangs it up, heading home
Colorado Springs City Council member Jerry Heimlicher, who has represented District 3 since 2003, announced his resignation this week.
Citing personal reasons, he plans to step down at the end of this month. Council has 30 days by charter to appoint a successor. Heimlicher's hope, as he explained in an interview, is to spend the month of October training the new person before he moves out of Colorado Springs in November.
Heimlicher and his wife Mary Margaret have bought a house in their home town (Germantown) near Memphis, Tenn., where they met in high school and still have family and friends, he said.
The personal reasons stem from a bad economy and political changes at the national level. Heimlicher is retired from the Ford Motor Company, from which he receives an employee pension as well as an executive pension (he had been president of Ford's Fairlane Credit Company locally). But after seeing the failure and ensuing federal takeover of the General Motors auto company - including the start of executive pension cutbacks - Heimlicher said he is worried that the same thing could happen with Ford. If it did, he and his wife would face a difficult financial situation, including the possible loss of their large Cheyenne-area house. While Ford is “doing quite well” at present, the idea is to take action now,” he said, noting that “this pension situation has gotten very little press.”
The Germantown house is a smaller, patio-style, which will be a better design for them as they move deeper into their retirement years and will also take advantage of Tenneesse's somewhat lower cost of living, he elaborated. “We now have control over our home and quality of life,” he said.
If he and his wife could have found a similar dwelling site on this side of town, they would have stayed, “but it just didn't work out for us,” he said.
Heimlicher said the pension situation had not yet surfaced in April when he campaigned for - and won - his third term as City Council member for District 3. Otherwise, he wouldn't have run, he said.
The city's budget issues are daunting. The city manager has identified $25.4 million in needed cuts for 2010, unless voters approve a mill-levy increase.
Heimlicher has already arranged to hand off a proactive effort he'd started last year, to put recycled parking meters in stores so people could use them to donate money to homeless-aid groups. He said this project will be taken over by Homeward Pikes Peak, the city's umbrella organization for homeless issues with which Heimlicher has been a volunteer board member.
On the Westside, Heimlicher has been active in a variety of issues. These have included helping the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District arrange a plan with Colorado Springs Utilities to install historic-style streetlights, working with Old Town merchants on concerns that summer-long craft fairs in Bancroft Park were costing them business and setting up a city review system to be sure major events such as Territory Days are not harmful to neighborhoods. In 2005, Heimlicher even tried to stop the city from charging Old Colorado City merchants a fee for having their Christmas Santa in the Bancroft cabin, but had to settle for preventing a park- usage fee hike from being applied to Bancroft.
A current effort is to work with Colorado Avenue merchants west of 31st Street on issues they're having with crime and vagrancy.
Heimlicher was first elected in 2003 to fill the vacancy left when Sallie Clark ran for mayor. He was re-elected in 2005 (unopposed) and again last spring (over challenger Dave Gardner).
Westside Pioneer article