Dec 232008
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

Current Fort Collins Mayor Doug Johnson announced this morning that he would run for a third term in the April 2009 City Election.

Elected to his post in both 2005 and 2007, Hutchinson said that while this will be his final term, he wants to continue to develop the economic and political ideas and tools his campaign has created in the past four years.

“Over the past few years, we have created a lot of tools to work with those problems,” Hutchinson said of the Fort Collins economic and job situations. “We’re a great city, but I think we can be a better city.”

The incumbent, Hutchinson, currently faces the only other declared candidate for mayor, Tom Griggs, a University of Northern Colorado education professor, who announced his candidacy in Old Town Square on Dec. 6.

Spokesman for Tom Griggs James Thompson said that Griggs was not available for an interview with the Collegian Saturday.

In a press release Griggs said, “The mayor has put serious effort into his work at City Hall and I commend him for that. But the time has come for us to start moving in a more positive direction.”

Griggs said in early December that the Fort Collins economy is his top priority, along with providing solutions to improve transportation, sustainable energy practices and job creation.

Compared with Griggs, who made his announcement surrounded by Democratic officials, Hutchinson said that he has been very careful to remain nonpartisan according to city election rules.

And while he said he had been criticized for doing so, Hutchinson said he is not going to ask for any political party endorsement because party ties inevitably come with “strings.”

“I think it’s really important that we have a city government that responds to the citizens and not to the parties,” he said.

Adding that he was not entirely familiar with Griggs’ plan for Fort Collins, Hutchinson said, “It’s always great to have new ideas.”

Hutchinson said that he’d like to pursue his vision of Fort Collins becoming a “world class city” and will do this by improving and developing three things including:

/ A robust sustainable economy

/ A vibrant community with effective city services and transportation among others

/ A healthy environment by maintaining Fort Collins’ rivers, resources and exploring clean energy.

Noting that there is no simple answer when it comes to creating more jobs in Fort Collins and boosting the economy, he said that his campaign took a huge step toward improvement in 2005 when the city cut the budget by $15 million.

Hutchinson said the city’s disciplined budget process and abandonment of the old bureaucratic system was one way Fort Collins was able to save money and put $5 million back into the budget. He said this money would act as a “hedge” against future economic problems.

Having worked with city officials and organizations, the Economic Development Task Force, CSU and UniverCity to improve the city’s economy, Hutchinson said that he would continue to attract businesses to Fort Collins and retain existing jobs.

“The city isn’t going to directly provide jobs,” Hutchinson said. “But we can be a catalyst and attract entrepreneurs to help this.”

The 1965 CSU graduate said that he has always felt strong ties with the university and its students and hopes to continue to grow the relationship.

Hutchinson said that he has taken every opportunity to meet with CSU students partaking in forums with the Associated Students of CSU and working to identify issues that concern the students the student government represents.

Encouraging communication future communication, Hutchinson said that the students vote is important because “students are citizens.”

The City Elections are by mail-in ballot only and the city will send out ballots to all people who live within the city limits. Ballots are due by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 by mail or to the Larimer County Clerk and Recorder.

Assistant News Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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