The District 3 County Commissioner race pits Sallie Clark, a two-term Republican incumbent, against John Morris, a Democratic political veteran seeking local government office for the first time.
The winner will serve four years, starting in January.
The district takes in much of western El Paso County, including the Westside.
Clark, 52, has lived in District 3 as a Westside bed-and-breakfast owner for 26 years. First elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2004, she is also a past president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) and a member of the Colorado Springs City Council (two years.
Morris, 65, is a retired high school teacher who describes his District 3 residence as “off and on” since 1965. He has been a leader in the local Democratic Party for 10 years and worked with former District 18 State Representative Michael Merrifield (2002-10) on his successful campaigns.
The Westside Pioneer asked three questions of each candidate:
1. Why do the residents of El Paso County's Commissioner District 3 need you in office? (100 words)
2. Name three county issues - at least one of them directly affecting the Westside - and how you would work (or are working) to influence their outcomes in a positive way. (150 words)
3. Who are you supporting for president of the United States and how does that fit your vision for your district? (100 words)
The candidates' answers appear below.
Since 1975, the County Commission has had a 5-0 one-party majority. As a Democrat, I would bring a more progressive point of view to the discussion of important county issues. Since the County Commission combines both the legislative and executive functions in the same body, there are no checks and balances built into the county structure of
government. The only way to provide those restraints is by having commissioners with different points of view constantly watching and challenging each other on the important county issues.
2. THREE COUNTY ISSUES:
Integrity in office - I strongly believe that government officials should not use their position in power to provide personal benefit to themselves. The political manipulations that created the third term for county commissioners did just that. Such actions seriously undermine the community's trust in their elected officials.
No Man's Land - The redevelopment of No Man's Land needs to continue as a high priority. The hardest problem will be determining the appropriate jurisdiction over that area after the infrastructure changes have occurred.
Protection of families and neighborhoods - The Waldo Canyon Fire has revealed to us the need to develop a unified policy and effective planning for the urban-wilderness interface. To do this, the county planning department needs to be restored to full effectiveness.
I will support the president. My primary concern with the national stage is the huge economic disaster facing El Paso County if the impending sequestration occurs. With the loss of tens of millions of dollars to the local economy, the need for county support services will dramatically increase at the same time that county revenues based so heavily on
sales taxes will dramatically decrease. This is another argument for the need for major financial reserves in the county budget.
As a longtime Westside small-business owner, I personally understand our area’s needs. In addition to the fight to save Fire Station 3, over the years, I’ve shown support for our neighborhood’s unique issues including public safety, economic development, road projects and historic preservation, among others. As we recover from the Waldo Canyon
Fire, my relationships at all levels of government and positions on local, state and national committees provide the opportunity to advocate for the support we need for important mitigation funding to reduce flooding impacts. My track record demonstrates energy and commitment to get things done for our community.
2. THREE COUNTY ISSUES:
As the District 3 commissioner, I've been working on many transportation projects, such as El Paso County's Westside Avenue Action Plan process for “No Man's Land” and as chair of Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), I have been able to champion the critical importance of the I25/Cimarron
interchange reconstruction. I also support the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority extension which includes area improvements.
In the parks and open space arena, I'm working with residents for a long-term preservation plan for Bear Creek Regional Park and on the Rainbow Falls restoration efforts - especially significant to Highway 24 West due to recent slope stabilization problems due to post-fire flooding.
I've been supportive of The Avenue Task Force efforts related to the anti-panhandling education campaign. I'll continue to advocate for road, safety and community development projects that are specific to the Westside in addition to countywide issues.
I’m committed to a balanced budget, and assuring that essentials are supported, including efforts to reduce crime and prevent child abuse. I’m fighting everyday to reduce unfunded government mandates and advocate for local and state’s rights. I believe that our hard-earned dollars that we send to the state and federal government should be returned to
support our local needs. Mitt Romney shares that same vision. When Governor Romney visited El Paso County following the Waldo Canyon Fire, he showed compassion and respect for our individual concerns by asking about the response to the fire and our community’s recovery needs.
Westside Pioneer article