COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — With just five days to go until polls close in the city’s April 6 municipal election, city council candidates are out knocking on neighbors’ doors.
Speaking with constituents could be especially important in City Council District 5, which covers the central part of the Springs, including the Citadel Mall and Palmer Park.
District 5 is the most crowded city council district with five candidates competing.
Nancy Henjum will appear first on the ballot. Henjum has lived in the district for three decades.
"I’m really proud to be a part of this community," said Henjum. "I chose to be here. Moved here 30 years ago, my husband and I, without jobs. And this is where we intend to leave the earth, is right here."
Henjum says she had an epiphany while re-reading her late father, Joe Henjum's, autobiography over the summer. Her father co-founded The Home Front Cares, which still serves members of the military and veterans today.
"I was actually sitting in this very chair this summer in a bit of despair about what was happening in our world as a lot of people were," said Henjum. "With COVID and fires and a very polarized election."
Henjum says her leadership skills combined with her father's passed-down heart for philanthropy make her the best candidate.
Colorado Springs is Matt Zelenok's hometown. He believes his education in science and engineering will help him understand complex issues related to the future infrastructure in the Springs.
"Growing up in Colorado Springs, this used to be a 15-minute town, meaning you could get across town in 15 minutes," said Zelenok. "Today, you’d be lucky to get across town in half an hour."
Zelenok says the top complaint he hears from constituents has to do with traffic safety and congestion.
"Colorado Springs has faced unprecedented growth in the last 15 years," said Zelenok. "We must take action to control our growth and reduce traffic congestion today."
Karlie Van Arnam
Residents in District 5 will find Karlie Van Arnam listed third on the ballot for council candidates. Van Arnam is hoping to fill what she considers a void on the council.
"We built small businesses here in town," said Van Arnam. "I’ve had a lot of dealings with city council, planning commission, various aspects of our local government. And I felt like there was a need."
Van Arnam wants to bring a younger and more progressive perspective to Colorado Springs City Council.
"So instead of leaving frustrated from every meeting, I decided I can throw my hat in the ring and try to do something about it," said Van Arnam.
Justin Hermes is a realtor and property manager. He thinks he can make progress toward affordable housing in Colorado Springs. Hermes also believes the city council needs a strong conservative candidate like himself.
"The big thing for me is I’m an American patriot," Hermes. "I love America, love the national anthem, love the American flag. And I think we have to stand behind our military and our law enforcement, especially right now."
Hermes says he hasn't accepted any campaign donations. Instead, he's encouraging people to spend money at local businesses or donate to non-profits.
"Actually on April 6, Election Day, we’re doing a big fundraiser," said. Hermes. "And anyone in the service industry can come have beers on us at Happy Tap on 8th Street. And then also we’re collecting money for the Boulder victims and Officer Talley’s family."
Mary Elizabeth Fabian
Mary Elizabeth Fabian owns Majeck, a photography and videography studio in Colorado Springs.
"I’m a small business owner. I’m a wife of a 100% disabled veteran. I’m a mom," said Fabian. "I’ve started charities here in Colorado Springs and schools. And over the last few years, it’s become very obvious to me that what happens on council has a direct impact on how I’m raising my family."
Fabian was inspired to found Mountain View Academy, a new charter school in town, after struggling to find resources for her child with autism.
She thinks her background in finance and sympathy for struggling families helps her stand out.
"I understand paying half of what you’re making just to keep a roof over your kids’ heads," said Fabian. "And when I’m sitting on council, that will be something that really differentiates me."