Hot Sheet

In Pueblo, to-dos pile up as the city preps for its first mayor in generations

Author: Dan Njegomir - March 12, 2018 - Updated: March 12, 2018

Pueblo_City_Hall_by_David_Shankbone-1280x960.jpg
Pueblo City Hall. (commons.wikimedia.org)

Pueblo is going to elect a mayor this year for the first time since the 1950s, and six candidates are already in the running. But as the hopefuls polish their stump speeches and set up their campaign committees, City Hall also has plenty on its plate to prepare for the new full-time “strong mayor,” who will replace the city manager.

The Pueblo Chieftain’s Ryan Severance has been keeping a laundry list of tasks the City Council must attend to, and job No. 1 is studying Colorado Springs just up I-25 from the Steel City. Springs voters changed their city’s charter in 2010 to usher in a strong mayor of their own, offering Pueblo a template:

In preparation for the transition, the city has studied things the city of Colorado Springs did and experienced when it went to a mayoral form of government.

Among those things:

Language in the city charter mandates that the city attorney represent the mayor. Since a system of checks and balances will exist between City Council and the mayor, there could be occasions when the mayor’s attorney and council’s attorney will have to consult separately with their respective clients. …

… In Colorado Springs, the mayor and council have separate attorneys representing them.

There’s also the matter of picking a deputy mayor, who among other duties would take the helm if the mayor steps down:

At council’s annual retreat on Saturday, some council members expressed concern that the charter limits the options as to who can be designated as deputy mayor. …

… The charter states that the mayor must designate one of the city’s department directors to be deputy mayor.

Currently, there are 18 city departments. Two or more departments may be headed by the same person, and some are. The charter is specific in saying that the deputy mayor must head one or more departments.

There is wording in the charter, though, that other departments may be established by ordinance upon the recommendation of the mayor. So if the mayor wanted to name someone deputy mayor who isn’t a current department head or someone who was appointed as director of an existing department, the mayor could, with the approval of City Council, create a department, appoint them director of that department and be within the scope of the charter by designating them deputy mayor.

Bet you didn’t think about that, eh? So many decisions.

Pueblo voters will pick their new mayor in next November’s general election — unless a second, runoff election is necessary. The mechanics of that process haven’t yet been decided by the City Council; it’s a work in progress. So, put that on the list, too.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is a blogger and opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.