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{Published in the Colorado Springs Gazette, 2011-05-11}

Apparently there is some sort of election next week, supposedly of a historic, unprecedented nature. You could’ve fooled me. We have the usual two candidates: One endorsed by the Republican/conservative bloc, the other by the Democratic/liberal one. Good thing I don’t have a weak heart, or the shock of the last stages of this electoral process would have finished me off.

I’m actually struck by how little the candidates differ, but in a good way. Both talk about the importance of the private sector. Both want more efficient government. Both recognize that businesses and private investment are the only meaningful way to create jobs, and both want to reduce the barriers to businesses investing here. Sure, this is all just talk at this point. But it’s good talk. It’s the right kind of talk.

Social issues seem to be on the back burner, at least according to the campaign rhetoric. That’s also a good thing. This election isn’t about sending some sort of message, or challenging popular culture, or taking a stand against America’s allegedly declining moral values. No election should be about that. Particularly since a lot of us think America’s moral values are just fine.

This election is instead about making our community a safer, more desirable, and more prosperous place to live. That’s local politics at its best.

So while I have no idea who our next mayor will be, I do have some advice for him. After all, this is America; everyone’s entitled to my opinion.

Steve, if you win, it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to folks conservatives don’t pay much attention to. Gays, lesbians, minorities, welfare recipients, non-Christians, and others on the fringes of our community. Many of these people are liberal and/or Democratic not because they’re wildly enthusiastic about lefty economic policies, but because they’re tired of being looked down upon or preached at.

Plenty of them are entrepreneurial, albeit in a less conventional way. Bikini baristas, exotic dancers, nightclub owners, tattoo artists, they’re part of the American dream too. And all people, including those on the margins of a community, want a better life. Maybe you can reach them with your message of prosperity. I believe Skorman when he says he’ll represent the whole community. Since social conservatives will start calling in favors after you’re in office, I’m not so sure about you. If you win, I hope you’ll prove me wrong.

Richard, if you win, stop demonizing developers. Developers are wealth creators just like all other entrepreneurs. The difference is that everybody just “knows” that the decision of what kind of houses should be built where and how communities should spring up ,is best left to smart planners and kindly progressives. As opposed to, say, stupid consumers and evil developers.

Most homeowners know where and how they want to live. And most developers don’t lobby City Hall because they want to. They do it because they have to.

All developers want to do is build the kind of houses people want to buy at prices they can afford. But they can’t do it without jumping through about eighty million hoops that your friends and supporters have put in place, all in the name of protecting us from evil developers. Remember: One man’s “sprawl” is another man’s chance at the American dream.

And finally, some advice for you both: Stay away from sweetheart deals.

You know the ones I mean; those special tax incentives to get some big-name company to relocate here. Sure, they’ll make you feel good about yourself, and you’ll get some great media buzz. But after you’ve left office and the deal expires, the company will pack up its tent and exploit some other gullible electorate in some other town. Anybody remember Intel?

Better instead to keep the tax base low and provide a stable, predictable environment for business. Showcase what we have to offer. No special deals, because Colorado Springs treats all business the same way: Fairly, predictably, and honorably, with respect and admiration for what they do.

If you can do that, you’ll do fine. And so will we.