Dr. Garfield Johnson, Announces Candidacy for City Council District 6

Press Release for Immediate Release December 26, 2020

On December 26, 2020, at 5:00pm, Dr. Garfield Johnson will officially announce his candidacy for El Paso County City Council District 6 at the Stetson Police Station located at 4110 Tutt Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80922.

After much consideration Dr. Garfield Johnson believes that having a seat on the City Council will allow him to apply his business knowledge along with his knowledge of the district to directly influence district-wide improvements. He states, “Being a resident of the district allows me to understand the district’s issues first-hand. I know where the district excels and recognize what areas need improvement.”

A Message from Dr. Garfield Johnson:

“I believe that I can bring to the council a practical perspective towards business development cultivating growth management including transportation, focusing a priority setting approach to each important matter at hand all through the lens of fiscal responsibility.”

Garfield Johnson asks residents of the district for their support and the opportunity to represent them on the City Council for District 6.

Dr. Johnson recognizes that the district faces significant challenges right now that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has taught us that the city should be focused on creating a varied economy. Such an economy helps to ensure that the district can continue to be a center for defense while expanding various business types to ensure a strong economy and increase job creation. While this should be a long-term and ongoing goal, the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought the need for an immediate and short-term focus on economic recovery. This focus should be on meeting the basic needs of district residents, addressing healthcare needs and costs, and business recovery. This includes utility services, eviction concerns, and new business development.

Dr. Garfield Johnson takes the stance that business development should be a priority to create a more varied economy for the city which leads to economic stability and revenue creation. This development of our urban area should not forsake our natural beauty meaning that the overall infrastructure including the building of roads, housing developments, and business/corporation centers must be done while maintaining the natural environment our city has to offer. He supports the planning for parks and open spaces in the city’s growth plan as these need to be present within all areas of the district.

Growth should be approached by planning appropriate infrastructure. If elected, Dr. Johnson would promote the creation of a comprehensive growth plan. This plan should have short and long-term goals, as the district continues to grow, and this growth must be appropriately planned for. The plan needs to address existing infrastructure by creating a plan to lessen current traffic concerns, while also planning for transportation needs in the future as the city grows. The city district should be planning for the expansion of water and other utilities into yet to be developed growth areas. This allows for the district to recruit corporations which would contribute to a varied economy and create jobs and to ensure that the infrastructure is in place for housing developments to address housing needs for new residents as they work for these anticipated new corporations.

As part of this growth plan, Dr. Johnson will strive to keep the culture and small town feel of Colorado Springs intact. Growth and infrastructure decisions should be decided through a lens of what makes our district our home and should be developed in ways that promote the culture of the city. Development requires expansion into new areas which requires carefully planned infrastructure. Additionally, the establishment of new small business needs to be simplified. The expense of starting a new business is often out of reach for many who desire it due to permit and other city fees. The Council needs to develop ways in which the starting of a small business can be more affordable which will ultimately benefit the city in the long-term.

It is recognized that the city’s continued growth adds to the city’s already present transportation issues. Traffic has increased exponentially, and it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with required street maintenance. The city’s transportation issues need to be assessed to determined what is working well and what specific improvements are needed. Public transportation services need to be expanded to all areas of the city including outside of city limits to get people into the city for work and recreation. Incentives should be developed to encourage the use of public transportation and carpooling. New roads need to be built that will ease traffic on the city’s most traveled streets. Alternate routes are needed to ease traffic on the city’s most traveled streets. These issues need to be addressed by City Council.

COVID-19 has certainly taken a toll on our district. Revenue has been decreased and healthcare costs have increased. Residents have lost jobs, loved ones, and are finding access to basic needs such as food and housing challenging. Businesses have closed, work forces reduced, and revenue has been decreased in all areas of the economy. Dr. Johnson proposed the reallocation of available funds in the budget along with the money from the state and federal government earmarked for COVID-19 relief, to ensure business can continue operating, preventing them from having to permanently close their doors. This can include business grants, emergency loans, and allowing for long-term payment plans for payments currently due.

In addition to the above issues, it is important for the Council to focus on ensuring public safety. There have been calls to defund police departments across the country. As a candidate for City Council, Dr. Johnson strongly disagrees with the idea of removing or even decreasing funds for the city’s police department. Operations of the police department are essential for the continued safety of the city. As the city grows so should the police department. Funding for the police department is necessary so that the number of officers can increase and so that the department has access to the modern technology that will maximize the efficiency at which the department can do their job of keeping our district safe.

Another issue that the district’s City Council must address is the unionization of city employees. Dr. Johnson would support this unionization. It would allow for city employees to have representation in their work-related matters without having to worry about repercussions. A union would represent their interests. The city already wants to support their employees and provide them with fair compensation and benefits within a positive workplace culture. Unionization will also help create longevity in terms of employee retention as there are union incentives for longevity.

Dr. Johnson would bring the skills of collaboration and compromise to the Colorado Springs City Council. The location is located at 4110 Tutt Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80922

The public is invited and encouraged to attend the campaign kick-off.

All inquiries regarding the campaign can be directed to (719) 505-3385 | info@votegarfieldjohnson.com

Why are you interested in being appointed to this position? What attributes do you bring to the position that will help City Council serve the community?

answered by Dr. Garfield Johnson, MA, MPA

I would like to be appointed to this position because I believe that I can contribute to the betterment of Colorado Springs District 6. As a resident of the district, I recognize areas that need improvement such as job creation, increased support of small business, transportation and growth management, and creating an improved relationship between what the state mandates and how that is applied in Colorado Springs. The council is faced with many pressing issues made more complex during this time of pandemic. I also recognize the needs of the area that have yet to be addressed by the council such as energy usage and healthcare. Being on the council will allow me the opportunity to address these needs through a practical lens. I have regularly followed council activities so I can quickly join the tasks of the group without the need for significant learning time. 

            I bring to the position the ability to be both a leader and a follower. I recognize the strengths of others and believe that those with the strengths should take on tasks that complement those strengths. I can lead when necessary and do so with the ability to listen and seek understanding. I can also follow by appropriately contributing to the tasks at hand by sharing ideas and contributing to the overall needs of the group. It is my firm belief that members of the council have the responsibility to make decisions based on what is best for the district as opposed to following a personal agenda. Thus, the importance of being able to both lead tasks and follow others. 

            I also bring knowledge and the abilities of collaboration and compromise. Solutions are seldom straight forward. They often benefit from out-of-the box thinking and diligent research. I can offer both. I understand that decisions require background knowledge which is often achieved through research and groundwork achieved by discussing issues directly with those affected and by gaining knowledge and perspective from district residents. I know how to conduct such research and am eager to be a hands-on council member. The council should be a team approach to solving problems and making decisions. While each member has their own opinions and may disagree, I can find common ground with others for collaboration and understand the process of give and take to create compromise. It is this compromise when necessary along with the ability to stand one’s ground when needed that allows the council to make progress on important issues.  

            I am also open to the perspectives of others. I believe that it is through this perspective that people gain insight and develop the best solutions. I do this through listening, ensuring understanding, and seeking perspective as opposed to waiting for information to come to me. I view the position as council member as a full-time role that requires daily effort and attention to the issues. The position requires much more than simply showing up for scheduled meetings. 

            I want to be a council member to affect change within the district. There are issues that need addressed immediately such as support for local business and the economy during Covid-19 and there are issues such as growth management that need addressed now in order to create a plan for the future. I would bring a well-rounded knowledge base in business and economic development to the council along with a strong work ethic and dedication to the betterment of Colorado Springs.

How would you propose to address the City’s capital infrastructure needs? 

answered by Dr. Garfield Johnson, MA, MPA

One step to addressing the city’s capital infrastructure needs is to create a comprehensive growth plan that has both immediate and long-term goals. The city continues to grow. Infrastructure needs to be developed that allows for ease of access around the city by preparing for growth while lessening current traffic concerns. The city needs to plan for growth by planning for the expansion of water and other utilities to handle an increase in population in designated growth areas. This can be done by working with companies who seek to relocate and developers as housing continues to be built. 

            I would also recommend the creation of a list of items that create the city’s culture. These items should be considered as every decision is made. This will help to ensure the quality’s that we all love about Colorado Spring remain intact. These should include natural beauty, access to the environment (forest areas, BLM land, bike paths, parks, etc.), small town feel, elements of tourism, and the increasing of a varied economy. All infrastructure need should be considered through a lens of what makes our district our home and should be developed in ways that promote the culture of our city. 

What are some important issues facing Colorado Springs District 6 and the City of Colorado Springs as a whole and how would you propose to address them?

answered by Dr. Garfield Johnson, MA, MPA

One issue facing Colorado Springs, including District 6 is business development. Our economy is primarily based on defense and tourism, both of which can continue to be developed. However, the city should be cautious of becoming known only for these areas. The development of both small and large business can help to create a more varied economy for the city brining about more economic stability. Incentives for mid to large businesses locating within the district should be developed and the city should reduce the amount of red tape and the costs associated with the establishment of small business. This supports the overall economy through increased revenue, stability, and job creation. 

            Secondly, the area is facing the issue of growth. Growth needs to be managed so that Colorado Springs can continue to promote tourism and so that residents can enjoy the beauty in which we are fortunate to live. The development of our urban area should not forsake our natural beauty, thus growth, including roads, housing developments, business/corporation development centers, and overall infrastructure development must be considered in light of increasing and maintaining the natural environment that our city has to offer. 

This position is listed as part-time with a stipend; however, it is a full-time position that involves participation on various boards and committees. Are you able to devote the time required to be an effective Council member? 

answered by Dr. Garfield Johnson, MA, MPA

Yes, I am able to devote the time necessary to be an effective Council member. I recognize the full-time requirement in terms of workload and am capable of fulfilling that commitment. 

As a member of the Colorado Springs Utilities Board of Directors, how would you balance varying priorities, including rates, reliability, and customer service?

answered by Dr. Garfield Johnson, MA, MPA

The elements of rates, reliability, and customer service are all important with no one area being more important than the other. I would balance these by ensuring an equal focus on all three. When making decisions, it is important to recognize that a change in one area can result in a change in another. If a decision to improve reliability is made this will likely result in a need to change rates and will also impact customer service. As a member of the Board of Directors, I would focus on how one area impacts the others and ensure that all aspects are considered by the Board through the discussion and decision-making process.  

What are your thoughts on the approach the City should take with respect to growth and development?  

answered by Dr. Garfield Johnson, MA, MPA

As mentioned earlier, growth and development should be approached through the development of a comprehensive growth plan. Growth should be encouraged as a benefit to the economy, yet carefully managed to maintain what we love about our city. It should be recognized that a balance is needed as the recruitment of new, large business to the area comes with a need for increased housing and infrastructure. Development requires new land uses and expansion into new areas. The city needs to have a plan for the location of new business centers and housing and a plan for how infrastructure can be developed in these areas. Decisions should be made regarding whether to put that infrastructure in place now and then actively recruit business growth and development or waiting until new business makes a commitment to relocate or begin a new facility in our district. I take the stance to prepare for growth and development as proactively as possible. 

 Growth and development should be focused on creating a varied economy for the district. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that the unexpected can occur and a varied economy can help the city to remain economically viable when the unexpected occurs. Being a center for defense can still be encouraged and promoted while pursuing an increase in varied busines types.