Behind the push for a Pueblo mayor — a thirst for leadership, a quest for respect
Author: Dan Njegomir - October 4, 2017 - Updated: October 4, 2017
Question 2A on Pueblo’s municipal ballot this November asks voters in the mayor-less city to establish a mayor’s office — a full-time, well-compensated chief exec who would lead the city’s administration as a reconstituted executive branch opposite the City Council. More or less like the mayor’s office in much-bigger Colorado Springs, just up the road. And like the mayor’s office in much-much-bigger Denver, just up the road from there.
And as far as some civic leaders are concerned, the change — and the enhanced profile it will bring the Steel City — can’t come soon enough.
The Pueblo Chieftain’s Ryan Severance captured the mood at a recent town hall meeting at which a citizens committee formed to promote the ballot issue briefed the public:
… (Committee member) Elizabeth Gallegos, also a small business owner, said she’s a little tired of being looked down upon and wants Pueblo to be respected.
“I feel like our town has a really special way about it that not everyone that lives outside of our city understands. I want a leader that will work alongside our chambers (of commerce), PEDCO (Pueblo Economic Development Corp.) and our citizens,” Gallegos said.
Pueblo is still known for the once-pivotal role its renowned steel mill played in the local economy and in meeting the demand for steel throughout the Rocky Mountain West. Pueblo was the powerhouse of southern Colorado for much of the 20th century and during that period was larger than neighboring Colorado Springs 40 miles to the north. In recent decades, as the mill downsized with the shifting global economy, city as struggled to find its footing and refocus its image. It has made progress of late, in no small part due to to the city’s emerging recreational marijuana industry, which local leaders mostly have welcomed.
Some of the backers of the ballot issue seem to feel it its the next logical step toward Pueblo’s re-emergence as a contender. Said Gallegos:
“Our citizens would elect someone that would be concerned about setting the record straight in our city and in our state. I want someone to shout out the praises and all the wonderful things our city is. I want someone that will not be ashamed to speak up on behalf of our city and citizens that deserve a voice.”