COS City Council Candidate Answers: Andres Pico, District 6

071-andy-5x7Andres (Andy) Pico is running for re-election in District 6. Here are his answers to the questions we sent to every candidate across the districts. The only changes we have made are for formatting. Everything else is exactly as submitted.

Need to know which city council district you are in so you can be ready to vote April 4th in local elections? HERE is the map of the current districts. 

Do you support establishing a salary for city council members that represents this full-time position serving our city? Please elaborate.

To a point.  The job is clearly a full time one if one does the level of effort that has been the case for the past several years with the committee work.  Because of that, it would be very difficult for someone who is not retired or otherwise independent to be able to put this level of effort into it.  In order to make it feasible for younger people who are still in their careers to be able to do this we should split the roles between the utility board and the council and consider a more reasonable compensation that would be fair to those who run in the future.  At the very least, the pay should be indexed to inflation as the Mayor’s is.  This is, however, an issue for the citizens to decide.  

What is your opinion on current parks funding?

The current parks funding is very tight and will remain so.  We have the TOPS which provides an extra level of acquisition and maintenance which is a problem in that newly acquired properties are then added to the maintenance load of the city parks system.  But I do not believe that the tax rates should be raised in order to fund parks.  

In your opinion, how do we drive economic growth for our city?

We are driving economic growth.  We need to maintain low tax rates and remove barriers to economic growth.  We also need to encourage private industry to expand the business sectors and diversify our local economy.  We currently have almost half of our economy driven by the defense sector and half of the remaining is tourism.  These we need to maintain and grow but we also need to diversify and attract other sectors to lessen our reliance on these two sectors.  Towards this objective we have expanded the airport commercial zone and that has been very successful.  We now have a new business sector which is supporting our airport, driving down airline costs and ticket prices, and expanding air service.  We have the room to grow and we are aggressively pursuing business expansion.  

What are the top three (3) issues you feel need to be addressed by local city government during the upcoming term.

Expansion of our business sector as discussed above.  A vibrant and growing economy will enable us to address other issues.

Police and Fire staffing and facilities.  We need to update their compensation package and retain our public safety professionals and ensure they have the best equipment possible.  Our police staffing in particular is critically short.

Address our stormwater and road maintenance.  We have a plan and funding in place and we need to continue to maintain these efforts.

What is your opinion on Colorado Springs becoming a Sanctuary City?

That would be a bad mistake.  A sanctuary city is by definition violating federal immigration laws.  I support legal immigration and I strongly support measures to ensure all legal immigrants are welcomed while illegal immigrants should be dealt with in accordance with existing federal laws.  

Do you feel that the Colorado Springs Utilities board should continue to be made up of City Council members? Please elaborate.

I strongly believe that the time has come to separate these two functions.  With the implementation of the committees the Council members have dug into the details of the issues to a degree not previously done.  This has also increased the time to a considerable degree.  If we want our council to be a part time job, then we do need to split these roles and have a part time council and a part time utility board that can focus on these roles while still able to have regular careers.  I strongly believe that an independent utility board would provide a better focus and that the members should be elected, as they are now, in order to maintain that accountability directly to the rate payers and citizen owners of the utility.  The council made an exhaustive effort to research and develop the path ahead and we need to continue this work towards that eventual goal.    

There is no one way to organize the utility board and there are many different models.  I believe an elected board that has the independent authorities to carry out its responsibilities is the best for the springs.  Ultimately, the citizens will decide this issue.  

Andres Pico

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