The election is coming up soon, so it is probably time for a review of the six district races and some predictions.
District 1: A standard rule of thumb is that a controversial incumbent wants a lot of opponents to split the anti-incumbent vote. I am not sure whether that will work in this district. Tim Leigh has two main opponents: Don Knight and Joe Barrera. Only Knight has any money, which makes gives him a one on one with Leigh. At the candidate forums I attended I thought neither Leigh nor Knight connected very well with the audience. I am guessing that Leigh will win on the basis of name recognition with Barrera getting just enough traction to split the anti-Leigh vote.
District 2: This is a one up between the incumbent Angela Dougan and Joel Miller. Dougan is one of two council members (Tim Leigh is the other) who usually votes the way the mayor wants. She has a lot of money, over three times the amount Miller had in the last report. At the campaign forums she also brags about being the most conservative council member. She did not talk about any issues, much less any nuances of an issue, and alone of all the candidates at the forum, she did not use all of the time given to her for an introductory speech (everyone else ran long). Unfortunately for Dugan, her reputation as a council member is poor and there is no one to split the anti Dougan vote. I think Miller has just enough money to run a credible campaign and ekes out a win.
District 3: This is the hardest to call. There are three candidates, Keith King, Jim Bensberg and Brandy Williams, all with name recognition, money and a winning track record. Of the three, King’s campaign fund is most puzzling; he has probably three to four times the funds necessary to run a good campaign. Why? Are donors trying to curry favor in the event of a victory? Since I will not permit myself to straddle the fence, I will say Bensberg wins, but I would not be surprised with a King victory either.
District 4: This race is also difficult to call. Helen Collins and Deborah Hendrix have the money; Hendrix has over twice the funds Collins has, which alone makes her the favorite. Dennis Moore has just enough money and endorsements to be in the race. And Gary Flakes is infamous. I did not think any of these candidates connected with the audience; all had trouble dragging people out of their iPads or smart phones. Dennis Moore has been a Republican precinct walker for many years and has demonstrated the willingness to do the grunt work necessary to win a small district race. I think Dennis Moore wins in an upset.
District 5: This is essentially a one-on-one with Jill Gaebler running against Bernie Herpin. Al Loma is also in the race and may play a spoiler role splitting the anti-incumbent vote, but he does not appear to have enough money. If the vote comes down to name recognition, then Herpin will win. If Gaebler has been successful in organizing small neighborhood meetings and meet-and-greets, she will win. Indeed, Gaebler is the only candidate to really connect with the audience at any of the candidate forums I attended. She had just enough energy to pull people out of their electronic devices, catch their eyes and hold them without being over the top.
District 6: This is the race that strikes fear in the hearts of all. This is also essentially a two- candidate field: Ed Bircham and David Moore. David Moore has the endorsements, money and virtually all of the support of the power elites in Colorado Springs. Bircham has name recognition and a very surprising sixth place finish two years ago. Playing a hunch, I think Bircham finishes on top this time.
Issue 1: This is the TOPS modification measure. While I personally oppose this (please see my post from a few weeks ago), I expect it to pass.
Issue 2: Pay for Council. The role of council is in great flux right now. If a separate utility board is created, council's work load will be much smaller and the time / salary requirement also smaller. I just think this is the wrong time for this measure. I expect it to fail.