Collective bargaining for firefighters was a big issue on the 2019 Colorado Springs municipal ballot.
Ballot Issue 1 failed to pass by a roughly 70 to 30 percent margin.
Firefighters, proponents for the issue, gathered at Thirsty Parrot on election night to watch the results come in.
As the initial numbers were released, the group was stunned and silent.
Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs said they knocked on 50,000 doors for their campaign, and a poll showed they had the community’s support.
However, voters overwhelmingly sided with the opposition and Mayor John Suthers.
Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs Campaign Manager John Roy said it’s hard to explain what swayed the voters. He said it was not misinformation or the community’s obvious support for Suthers, but rather the community didn’t think about the long term impact.
“The mayor is only going to be here for another four years,” Roy said. “He’s term-limited. We got people who are dedicating 30 years of their life to this city and selflessly serving this city. So to see this sort of result is discouraging because realistically what it demonstrates is that people are thinking about the short term rather than the long term.”
“I have worked with the firefighters,” Suthers said. “I think if the firefighters are honest with you, I’ve really worked well. I’ve gotten them big raises. We’re getting equipment. And I just think they got a little tied up with their leadership.”
As for what’s next, Roy said the firefighters will still maintain a good relationship with city leaders, but said it’s unfortunate nothing is in writing.
Nonetheless, Roy believes this will be a detriment to Colorado Springs, since 15 other places in the state have collective bargaining for firefighters.
“I’m from here,” Roy said. “I intend to stay here. I think our biggest concern is that we have high-quality firefighters who might end up leaving for other departments.”