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Editorial: Final Days and 16 Mayors

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Back when Pueblo decided it wanted to have a Mayor run city government, few expected that 16 people would run for office. Now that Pueblo is in the final month of the campaign, I can officially say, 16 people are 10 people too many to run for office.

With a month to go, Puebloans do have choices however, there are the safe choices, candidates who could be mayor tomorrow and keep Pueblo moving along. If Puebloans want a stark contrast with the way things have been going, they too have options. If Pueblo’s minorities feel left out and want a fighter, they have choices. And if Pueblo thinks there are no promising politicians from different walks of life, this race has shown that a few candidates are could turn into the next class of Pueblo leaders.

Back when Pueblo decided it wanted to have a Mayor run city government, few expected that 16 people would run for office. Now that Pueblo is in the final month of the campaign, I can officially say, 16 people are 10 people too many to run for office.
With a month to go, Puebloans do have choices however, there are the safe choices, candidates who could be mayor tomorrow and keep Pueblo moving along. If Puebloans want a stark contrast with the way things have been going, they too have options. If Pueblo’s minorities feel left out and what a fighter they have choices. And if Pueblo thinks there are no promising politicians from different walks of life, this race has shown that a few candidates are could turn into the next class of Pueblo leaders.

The Safe Statesmen

If Pueblo was looking for a mayor that is an elder statesman – someone who lived a life in civic service then Nick Gradisar, Steve Nawrocki and Dennis Flores would fit that choice.
In their first day in office, all three would be considered an equal to Mayor John Suthers in Colorado Springs and to a lesser extent Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver. They are safe, predictable but also give Pueblo respectability.
Some may criticize these three are merely an incremental change in Pueblo politics, but with a shift in political leadership, having a cooler head lead the city may steady Pueblo political life for a half decade.
Nick Gradisar – the elder statesman: Gradisar has been around Pueblo politics for so long, it feels as if he has already been mayor for a term back in the 1980s. What Gradisar gives Pueblo is a knowledgeable hand in how government works. Voters want a visionary war leader, but city management is more like a march to war, fought with memos, second readings, and updates on rule number 10.1.4-B. Gradisar gives Pueblo that statesman who knows the issues and understands the slog of city government.
Steve Nawrocki – the experienced councilor: With years of experience as the head of the Senior Development Resource Development Agency in Pueblo and serving on Pueblo City Council, Nawrocki has all the boxes checked to understand Pueblo. Water. Yes. Aging issues. Check. Budget and finance. Check. Public Safety. Check. Nawrocki ticks most, if not all, of the experience boxes a Pueblo mayor would need.
Dennis Flores – the Colorado COO: From two stints on council, a time on Pueblo City School Board, serving on the Board of Governors for the Colorado State University System and running his own insurance business, his CV has the hefty mix of business and community involvement. Flores seems to have more of the temperament and mindset of a United States Senator than just another Pueblo politician and that could serve Pueblo well.
If there is a downside to these three is that they aren’t the future of Pueblo, but they represent a transition to one. All three are older but Pueblo is older. Where these three could struggle is addressing the needs of the arts and culture community, youthfulness.
However where these three stand out is over their collective experience should Pueblo ever be faced with a national emergency or a statewide crisis. All three could seemingly withstand the stress to lead Pueblo through difficult stretches should we face a disaster or crisis.
It’s mocked in the current political climate but someone having the skills to navigate the halls of city-county bureaucracy, engage with the Governor, or converse with a U.S. Senator is just what Pueblo has lacked.

The “outside” councilors

With years of experience on council, Chris Nicoll, Lori Winner, and Randy Thurston represent a break in traditional city politics but their challenge will be convincing voters see them as coalition builders.
I think all three would acknowledge they can at times be polarizing leaders with a reputation for being thorns in the “way things are just done in Pueblo.” And depending on which side of the fight you were on, that means some baggage. But all three would also tell you, that’s what Pueblo needs – a shakeup and that’s what they are offering.
Chris Nicoll in his time in Pueblo City Council has been at the center of the most contentious issues. From the recall effort of three council members, the rancor over the Pueblo Animal Shelter and the debacle over the baseball stadium – Chris Nicoll has been the barb in Pueblo government.
Nicoll for all his thorniness understands that Pueblo needs to adapt to a new century of industry. The question for him is can he get along to move the city along? Or has he burned one too many bridges?
Lori Winner and Randy Thurston present Pueblo with a vision of Pueblo that would be an immediate and clear shift in direction. Both openly say that Pueblo isn’t held back because of som…
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