All-for-one: Alliances between Pueblo mayoral candidates may be the only way to win
It’s still unclear who will make the ballot for mayor in Pueblo, let alone be the first top city leader in decades. But if the number of packets pulled and affidavits returned to the city clerk’s office are any indication, voters will have no shortage of options.
That may lead to a more centrist mayor, said Paul Teske, dean of University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs.
A representative from the office said nearly 30 potential candidates have pulled packets, showing some interest, for the seat. That doesn’t mean they’ll all follow through. But 24 have returned candidate affidavits, making their bid a little more serious.
Even though city council races, including the mayor’s seat, are typically non-partisan, Teske said the spectrum of where mayor candidates stand on various city issues can be broad, just like any other elected seat. That could lead to a scenario more similar to elections in Europe than what voters in the U.S. typically see. A bevy of candidates could lead to the formations of coalitions, he said.
In order for that scenario to play out, those candidates will have to qualify for the first round of elections in November. Earlier this summer Pueblo City Council decided against a ranked choice voting system, like Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz suggested. That method would allow voters to rank their choices. Ortiz said that would save money, about $70,000.
Instead, the top two vote-earners will move on to another round of voting. Voters will decide between those candidates in January. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said in an interview with PULP earlier this year that his biggest piece of advice to Pueblo in embarking on its first mayor would be to hold a runoff election rather than through ranked choice voting.
That way, he said, the winner has the support from the majority of the city — not just perhaps 10 percent of voters who gave the winner their first vote.
“When you have this many candidates, it’s tough for anybody to get a majority,” Teske said.
And that may be why candidates decide to join forces to get each other elected, rather than possibly have 30 candidates battle to the final vote.
Teske admitted that while alliances could be likely this fall, “I don’t think political science and public affairs have the great answers,” he said. “There’s a lot of variation around the country” when it comes to local government makeups and elections
And how Pueblo voters have acted in recent elections — particularly narrowly favoring President Donald Trump in 2016 — could make even a city race more interesting, he said.
Candidate affidavits have to be filled out and returned to the city within 10 days of a candidate announcing their run. Candidates can pick up petitions beginning Aug. 7, and if all 24 return that documentation by Aug. 24, there could lead to a lengthy ballot in November.
Candidates also have to gather 100 signatures from registered voters who live in Pueblo.
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