In November 2012, Amendment 64—legalizing recreational marijuana use and retail sale—passed in El Paso County by just 10 votes. This illustrates vividly why voting is important, because every vote matters. Amendment 64 won with 54% of the vote in Colorado Springs. But then, as I’ve described before, our local County Commissioners and City Council members decided to overrule the expressed will of the people, by not allowing pot sales within either El Paso County or Colorado Springs.
I believe the will of the people should be followed, but apparently our local governments disagree.
As I’ve written before, in 2013 and 2014 Mayor Steve Bach began advocating for the City for Champions suite of projects, which includes a new sports/events stadium built in downtown Colorado Springs. A poll was then taken to see whether or not people actually wanted a new stadium built downtown. The results of that poll were hidden for quite awhile—because they were unfavorable to the project. By large margins, people did not want a stadium built downtown. But even so, the C4C suite of projects was still pushed as one whole package, indivisible, with the stadium. And against the expressed will of the people, stadium development has been going forward.
I then thought this bad habit of local governments ignoring the will of the people would change when we got a new Mayor and several new City Council members, in the 2014 elections. But I was wrong.
For in August 2015, Mayor John Suthers began advocating for a new law criminalizing loitering in public areas downtown. Steep fines and jail time would go to anyone caught sitting in a public area for too long. At recent public hearings about this proposed law, the overwhelming sentiment of the people was against it. But some news reports tell us the Mayor is still for it, and so are some City Council members. So, despite massive public disapproval, the proposed law may still be passed.
In at least these three instances (and in many others, I’m sure), our local governments have acted contrary to the expressed will of the people they represent–which is not how American governments are supposed to work.
Unrepresentative government—and unresponsive, too—is a serious problem in Colorado Springs. And it must be changed.