COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs' growth is among the top priorities for the four candidates vying to be the city's mayor.
"Our growth was too fast and too large." Lawrence Joseph Martinez said.
Martinez is one of three challengers to incumbent John Suthers. The others are John Pitchford and Juliette Parker.
Martinez said the growth has been too concentrated in the northeastern areas of the city, leaving behind areas in south and southeastern Colorado Springs. He said during his campaign, he has talked to young people working in Colorado Springs who had to move to Pueblo because of the lower cost of living.
"These are kids who went to grade school here, middle school here, high school here, started their first job here, but can't afford to live here," Martinez said.
During his September State of the City address at the Broadmoor, Suthers said 485 affordable housing units had been built in the city. He set the goal to build 1,000 units per year over the next five years.
Suthers doesn't believe the city should enter itself into the housing market, but rather, should help development.
"I think the city has to use the tools it has to facilitate affordable housing," Suthers said.
Some of his challengers have ideas on how to do that. Parker said the city is making the base cost of home building too expensive.
"There are the permit costs and the inspection costs and all of these things that add up that is making it to where if you're wanting to build homes that are under $250,000, you're not going to make a profit on it because of all of the fees," Parker said.
Pitchford believes some regulations could help bring the cost of living down. He said he supports a managed plan to growth, but what Colorado Springs has experienced is "toxic growth."
"I am very concerned with what I consider to be corruption here in Colorado Springs, particularly around how the city is growing," Pitchford said. "The city is growing fast enough that I don't believe that we need to be giving away our future tax revenue in a city we already know is underfunded."
Pitchford takes issue with the land swap of Strawberry Fields with the Broadmoor. He also takes issue with tax incentives, mainly for the Scheels sportings good store and Air Force Academy Visitor Center. Suthers said he doesn't want to lose Scheels to another city, because it could provide an economic income from outside the city.
The city election is April 2. Tap here for more information about how to vote.