Feb 102005
Authors: James Baetke

With the citywide elections beginning April 5, candidates are beginning to make their names known in Fort Collins by campaigning for the four open spots on City Council.

Current Mayor Ray Martinez is term-limited and three other councilmember seats are open: Districts 1, 3 and 5.

Those who intend to run are required to turn in a nomination petition to the city by Feb. 24, including 25 signatures of registered voters in Fort Collins who support the candidate. As of Thursday, two confirmed candidates were cleared by the city to run in April's elections.

Bill Bertschy, the council member for district one who is term-limited in that seat, has been authorized by the city to run for mayor, and Marty Tharp, who is vying for reelection in her District 5 seat, is also confirmed.

"The ballot will contain local candidates and issues," said Rita Harris, chief deputy city clerk for Fort Collins.

The ballot will have a slot for mayor and three council members, and it will also contain three issue votes, both citizen- and city-initiated.

One such initiative is the vote to get rid of fluoride from the city's water. Another is to repeal the grocery tax. Supporters say the tax is stunting economic growth in the city, while opponents want to keep the 2.25 percent grocery tax.

The tax was created in 1968 and is fed into the Fort Collins general fund's operating budget.

City Council unanimously opposed the tax in a Feb. 2 meeting. If repealed, the cut would affect police, fire, parks and other departments.

The third initiative is an issue brought forth by City Council to extend a tax into 2015 to help fund street maintenance.

Two candidates fighting for a spot in District 1 have publicly come forward to state their cases. Rich Davis, general manager of the foundation system company Secure Piers, believes booming business is the key to the city's economic strength. His opponent, Ben Manvel, is a retired CSU math professor who wants to slow city growth and promote environmental means.

Eric Hamrick will be trying to go a second round in his District 3 council seat. Hamrick, who has been working for the city for the last four years, is an employee of Hewlett-Packard and wants to manage growth in an effective manner, reduce traffic congestion and conserve the environment.

Hamrick's opponent, Diggs Brown, is a captain with the Colorado National Guard. Brown wants to focus on business and transportation in Fort Collins.

Tharp is also up for reelection. Tharp, who represents District 5, wants to focus on rental problems and nuisance ordinances, issues that greatly affect her district and that she calls key issues.

"I am strongly in favor of the enforcement of the nuisance ordinances. They impact everyone around them," Tharp said.

Tharp has been against the three-unrelated rule — the city's ban on more than three non-family members living together — since its creation and wants fluoride out of the city's water.

A retired CSU technical journalism professor, Tharp said it could sometimes be a difficult task to balance the needs of students and residents in the community. Tharp said she is looking forward to a new mayor and says she is optimistic about winning the election.

Tharp's ballot counterpart, Kelly Ohlson, is an ex-Fort Collins mayor who wants another stab at having a seat on the council. Ohlson is pro-environment and also has sided with plagued neighborhoods that are upset with the behavior of renters who act irresponsibly.

Mark Brophy, Bill Bertschy and Doug Hutchinson have all announced their candidacy for mayor. Others have come forward as well, but only Bertschy has been confirmed at press time.

Brophy, who is known for his small-government philosophy, wants the grocery tax repealed and supports fluoride out of the water.

"We need to make city government less intrusive," said Brophy, who wants the development of the new police services building halted and voted on.

Brophy criticizes Martinez and wants to stop "Martinez's proudest achievement," alluding to the construction of a new police department.

Opposing things like the three-unrelated rule and rental registration, Brophy wants to reduce the size of city government if he takes the mayor position.

"There are thousands of students we have labeled criminals," Brophy said. "I am very confident to be the next mayor."

All ballots will be mailed to registered voters in Fort Collins. Harris said the mailing is large, thanks to the push in the November elections to get people registered.

Harris said turnout is difficult to predict and in the past turnout has been from 35 to 55 percent in city elections.

"I am estimating we will have 73,000 registered voters. It will not surprise me if we see a 50 percent turnout," Harris said.

Look in the Collegian for future Q & A's on all the confirmed candidates for City Council






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