City candidates debate student, city connections on CSU campus

Rachel Telljohn

Fort Collins regular municipal elections are ongoing and the candidates came to campus to debate Monday night.

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The Associated Students of Colorado State University hosted a debate for the candidates running for mayor and for the district five council member position. ASCSU hoped the debate would offer a way for students to be more involved with the city and local city elections.

There are four mayoral candidates – Kwon Atlas, CSU alumni; Wade Troxell, current mayor; Michael Pruznick, business owner; and Elizabeth Hudetz, activist.

There are two council member candidates for district five – Ross Cunniff, current council member; and Duane Hansen, CSU alumni.

ASCSU moderated the debate and had four questions, all related to how the candidates would better relations between the city and the University, particularly, the students.

Many of the candidates addressed what they feel is a hot button issue for students, which is affordable housing and the city occupancy ordinance, commonly known as U + 2. The ordinance regulates housing to three unrelated adults per property.

Wade Troxell advocated for many of the policies city council already has in place, as well as using data from studies in order to support policies such as U+2.

“Students are first class citizens in our community,”  Troxell said. “The role of mayor is one as a council member (to help make decisions about U+2).”

Elizabeth Hudetz is in favor of using current sustainability policies, as well as going further with policies in order to combat changing climates and leave a better future for the families of current students.

“The students of today are the citizens of tomorrow. We need to think ahead. There are ways to do things that are creative,” Hudetz said.

Duane Hansen explained that he would use his experience as a recent graduate and a former member of ASCSU as a way to connect the city to the University and the students.

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“The way you lead is by collaboration,” Hansen said. “In terms of leadership, I would not be divisive.”

Kwon Atlas also advocated for treating students as a part of the community and incorporating their input, beyond just the outreach from ASCSU. Atlas also said more diversity is needed on city council in terms of younger members.

“The students are not necessarily protected by the city,” Atlas said.

Michael Pruznick advocated for interests of the community and said that students should not be labeled as a group, because then there is either a love or a hate established for that group. Pruznick related the labeling to the way he feels the city is currently labeling homeless persons.

“Focus on impacts (of policies enacted in Fort Collins),” Pruznick said.

There were less than 20 students and community members at the debate.

Election day is April 4 and ballots need to be mailed in or dropped off prior to that date, similar to the presidential election ballots. Voters must be registered in Fort Collins in order to vote in the city elections.

Collegian reporter Rachel Telljohn can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @racheltelljohn.