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Colorado Springs City Councilman Tom Strand juggling obligations to run for Congress

Author: Conrad Swanson, The Gazette - August 27, 2017 - Updated: August 27, 2017

Colorado Springs City Councilman Tom Strand (Courtesy Tom Strand)Colorado Springs City Councilman Tom Strand (Courtesy Tom Strand)

Tom Strand isn’t planning on giving up his seat on the Colorado Springs City Council to run for Congress against Republican Doug Lamborn, the entrenched 5th Congressional District incumbent up for election next year.

Strand said his obligations to the council — he was elected as an at-large member in 2015, and as chairman of the Utilities Board are critically important.

“I’ve got a job and I’m not going to shirk that,” he said.

However, he expects to be getting in less golf, fishing and hiking, he said, as he campaigns to unseat Lamborn and best other challengers in the GOP primary, which all but determines the winner of the seat in the heavily Republican district that includes Colorado Springs.

A retired Air Force colonel and former member of the Colorado Springs School District 11 board, Strand, 69, said he plans to announce his candidacy next month. A longtime registered Democrat, he said he plans to run as a Republican and will focus on creating new jobs for young people, wildfire protection and the national epidemic of opioid abuse during his campaign.

City Council President Richard Skorman said he and other council members had heard Strand might run for Congress, so the announcement doesn’t come as a surprise.

“There are three strong candidates on the Republican side who are probably going to pull from the same kind of voter, very fiscally conservative and socially conservative,” Skorman said. “But I think there’s a chance for somebody else.”

The other two Republican challengers in the primary are state Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who lost to Democrat Michael Bennet in the race for U.S. Senate last year.

His opponents, including Lamborn, are likely to have already amassed campaign funds, Strand said he’s starting from scratch financially. “I’ve got about ten bucks going here,” he said. “Now I’ve got to get some funding. It’ll be interesting in some ways, though, we’ll see who calls out to me.”

Having handled life on City Council alongside other obligations, Skorman said he’s confident Strand can handle the responsibilities.

“Tom is super hard working and he goes to more events and he’s on more committees than almost anybody on the council,” Skorman said. “Certainly if he doesn’t feel like he’s being able to carry out his council duties, I’m sure Tom himself would be the one to let everybody know. He’s very conscientious.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.