While most of the national media's election coverage is focused on the upcoming 2018 elections, there are many contentious races happening right now.
One such race that independents should pay attention to is in Manitou Springs, Colorado, where the mayoral race is heating up. Incumbent independent Mayor Nicole Nicoletta is being challenged by Democrat Ken Jaray.
With political party polarization at levels unseen in modern United States history, voters are looking for common-sense, independent-minded candidates that are not afraid to reach across the aisle.
Supporters of Mayor Nicoletta believe her “get-it-done” and “problem-solving” attitude is the right recipe for the growing, Front Range community on Manitou Springs.
“Mayor Nicoletta has the 360° vision of the entire community and comprehends that a special interest group may not understand the concerns and needs of the entire community when expressing their passionate demands…[She] understands that there are always at least two opposing views on every problem or issue that arises in the community,” writes Randy Hodges, current city councilmember and Nicoletta supporter.
Nicoletta has been a registered independent (unaffiliated in Colorado) for decades. Before winning the mayoral race in 2016, she served as a city councilmember for two years and has called Manitou Springs her home for nine.
She is a small business owner and a mental and behavioral health provider. Nicoletta received her Masters in Sociology from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and is a visiting professor at Colorado College.
During her time as mayor, Nicoletta has worked to solve a myriad of problems that any expanding, Front Range city faces -- from municipal parking issues to crime and increasing levels of homelessness.
She has developed policies to address economic development and housing, maintain and strengthen collaborative relationships with regional and state partners, continues to prepare for disasters like forest fires in innovative ways, and supports the implementation of AARP’s Age Friendly Program. She also led the city's efforts to clean up Soda Springs Park and to make it a safe, family-friendly community asset.
Nicoletta’s opponent, Ken Jaray, is a retired attorney, former city attorney, and school board member who has lived in Manitou Springs for nearly 40 years. He spent 30 years as the principal of the law firm Jaray & Webster, working on personal injury and workers’ compensation law.
The Colorado Springs Independent profiled both candidates and endorsed Mayor Nicoletta for another two years.
“[W]hat really impressed us about Nicoletta wasn't what she has done; it's what she is doing. While Jaray would clearly need to play catch-up when he got into office, Nicoletta is fully informed and just hitting her stride after only two years in office.” - Colorado Springs Independent
Other supporters of Mayor Nicoletta include:
- Woodland Park Mayor Neil Levy;
- Green Mountain Falls Mayor Jane Newberry;
- Colorado Springs City Councilmembers Andy Pico and Merv Bennett; and
- El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller.
Ballots were mailed to Colorado voters on October 16. All ballots must be returned by 7 pm on November 7. El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman expects a turnout rate of about 40-45 percent for this off-year election.
Many voters felt disillusioned with how the process played out during the 2016 election cycle. What we need to remember is that politics is local. Races like Mayor Nicoletta’s have an almost immediate impact on the day-to-day lives of residents.
This is where independent candidates can quickly find their foothold and demonstrate the electability of independent candidates up and down the ballot.
Disclaimer: Promotion for this article was paid for by Colorado Centrist Project Election Fund, and was not authorized by any candidate.
Photo credit: Colorado Springs Gazette