PUEBLO – The two men running to be the first strong mayor of Pueblo shared their views on a number of issues facing the City Thursday night at Pueblo Community College in the first debate to be held ahead of the January 22nd runoff election.
Steve Nawrocki, executive director of the Senior Resource Development Agency and two-term City Councilman, sparred with local attorney Nick Gradisar who served on the Pueblo Board of Waterworks and led the campaign to establish a strong mayor form of local governance.
The hour-long debate touched on multiple issues ranging from how to grow the City’s economy, to ideas on how to keep college educated young people from moving away from the community. The candidates also shared their ideas on how to address opioid addiction in the community and how to reduce homelessness.
Mr. Nawrocki touted his experience and political connections as advantageous if he were to be elected. He called for a million dollar a year promotional campaign for the City of Pueblo to boost tourism and grow the economy.
“If we start promoting our Pueblo as being a good place to live, a good place to work, a good place to raise a family, and a good place to visit, that is going to bring people and they’re going to want to come to this community. If people want to come to your community, people are going to come here and they’re going to start businesses,” Nawrocki said.
Mr. Gradisar said Pueblo needs to diversify it’s economy away from its heavy dependence upon the manufacturing sector. He pointed out that this new elected office will change how city government is run and that he as the outsider is the best man for the job.
“I think that’s why I’m so excited about this change in our form of government because that full time elected leader is going to be responsible for jelling the community and moving the community forward so that we can make some real economic development efforts,” Gradisar said
A panel of journalists including Andy Koen from KOAA-TV, Kara Mason from the Pueblo Pulp, and Andrea Chalfin of KRCC-FM asked the candidates questions, many of which were submitted via social media prior to the debate. Ruth Nerenberg of the League of Women Voters served as debate moderator.
Election day for the run-off election is Tuesday, January 22nd. Voters can still register and receive a ballot by mail up until January 14th.