Originally appeared in Fort Collins Weekly
It’s the surest sign of spring – empty lots around town sprouting pro-developer city council candidate signs. Want to know who local special interests support? Just check the signs along the roadways and in the little pockets of nature that some banker hopes will soon be a meal ticket. In 2007, the moneyed interests are pushing Doug Hutchinson, Wade Troxell and Matt Fries.
Unlike the Presidential election, the City Council race is a two-month sprint. Ballots are mailed in mid-March and due back by Election Day, April 3. So let’s look a quick peek at each of the council races, starting with the mayor’s contest.
Actually, there is no contest. Doug Hutchinson faces only token opposition from Scott Van Tatenhove, who this time around apparently WILL take stands on issues but still won’t spend more than pocket change on the race. Good luck with that.
In District 6 (the most liberal section of the city), incumbent David Roy has deep roots in the community, has served his constituents well, and should easily win re-election. The Chamber of Commerce and its allies have basically conceded this seat. Like Roy, the two challengers are working stiffs, which we need more of on council. I applaud them for stepping forward to run, but not this time. Roy deserves re-election, hands-down.
In District 4, Glen Colton came within 200 votes of winning in 2003, and SHOULD win this time around against Troxell. Having served on city boards and in numerous campaigns, Colton should benefit from the same resurgent progressive movement that in recent years has elected Karen Wagner to the County Board of Commissioners, Kelly Ohlson to City Council and Randy Fischer to the State House. Complicating the matter, however, is the issue of immigration, which Colton now says should not be an issue. But Colton himself raised the issue before, and can’t have it both ways. Community activist LeRoy Gomez has jumped into the race, and while he won’t win, he may siphon enough votes from Colton for Troxell to sneak by (proving once again why we need Instant Runoff Voting in city elections!). Ironically, the more Ohlson waves the “immigrant-bashing” banner on council, the less likely he is to gain Colton as an ally there.
The most entertaining race is in east-central District 2, where stay-at-home mom and community volunteer Lisa Poppaw is challenging professional document-shredder Matt Fries. If Fries wins, it will be the first time in decades there are NO women on council. Do we really want to revert to the 1950’s? Like all good moms, Lisa understands the need for balance, between protecting our environment, parks and open spaces that make us the great city we are, and promoting a healthy economy.
Fries, who says he is “standing solid” for innovation (whatever that means!), comes down heavily on the pro-development side, calling for eliminating “all unnecessary barriers,” “providing a business friendly community,” “a sensible approach to…improving the Poudre River” and “practical use of open space dollars.” That’s greenwashed code for removing air and water quality restrictions and opening the floodgates for rampant development.
One innovation we’ve already seen was campaign manager Scott Yeldell pretending in a letter to the editor that he first met the candidate when Fries knocked on his door. Fries classified the obvious lie as a “mistake,” but Yeldell is the same operative caught red-handed last year stealing Randy Fischer campaign signs to benefit his mom’s campaign.
In another blow for Republican dirty tricksters, Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government lodged a formal complaint against Andrew Boucher and his Northern Colorado Victory Fund for not filing required finance reports for his role in the failed smear campaign against now-Rep. John Kefalas last Fall. (Full disclosure: I helped get Kefalas elected.) When Boucher moved to our little burg, he brought his brand of big money gutter politics with him, immediately launching two political committees to influence city elections. Both of those committees are delinquent in reporting as well. Boucher has defended his sleazy tactics (which he euphemistically calls “political advertising”) in his column in the Fort Collins Weekly, urging voters to “Check sources. Follow the money. Demand accountability.” Now he can tell it to the judge.