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Tuesday is the last day to vote in the City Council election and the outcome will affect Colorado Springs’ trajectory far into the future. Local government has never been more important, as one increasingly radicalized party controls the state legislature, the Board of Regents, all statewide offices, the media, and most school boards and city councils throughout Colorado.

Our community is fortunate. The City Council, city employees, and mayor have worked together to build a national reputation for stable and responsible governance. That makes our metro area attractive for the launch of new businesses, relocation of enviable employers, and a place for good, law-abiding individuals and families to settle and invest in meaningful ventures and lifestyles.

Because our high-quality electorate empowers mostly honest and intelligent leaders, the Springs consistently ranks at or near the top of surveys that determine the best places to live, bring up children, start businesses, or pursue educations and careers.

The priority for voters should be where to go from here. We must protect our quality of life, improve it, and spread the word.

Individuals, organizations, businesses, and communities do best by building on established qualities. One should not transform a sumo wrestler into a runway model. As the class philosopher inevitably writes in senior yearbooks, “stay the way you are and you’ll go far.”

Any effort to be more like our neighbor to the north would, at best, give the world a second-rate Denver. Anyone looking to live or work in America’s Amsterdam should want the real deal, not a reasonable facsimile thereof an hour down the road.

People voting, and those elected to lead, should view Colorado Springs as an extraordinary alternative to Denver. That means building on and owning our identity as a city of faith, family, education, safety, health, military service, and happy, optimistic children.

People who want to live in the first American city to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms will always and forever have only one choice: Denver. Those who want high-altitude life with mountains to the west, good restaurants and cultural amenities, marijuana sold like candy, and all the other pluses and minuses of a large, progressive, increasingly racy, counter-cultural city are wise to choose Denver. The city’s residents elect politicians who want to eliminate private property rights and replace capitalism with something more “equitable.” That’s what some people want, giving Denver a niche.

Then there is Colorado Springs. This is the clear choice for anyone who wants mountains, limitless outdoor recreation, good restaurants, and other cultural amenities. Nearly anything unavailable in the Springs is roughly an hour to the north.

Unlike Denver, Colorado Springs consistently passes on the temptation to sell and tax pot. The city, in its charmingly old-fashioned ways, considers all hallucinogenic drugs a bad idea. Some of the city’s more left-leaning politicians respect the free market, property rights, and religious liberty for all. This community enthusiastically hosts military operations and nearly 100,000 veterans.

The Springs and Denver each provide a western, urban environment for people with substantially different interests and lifestyles. If local leaders make this city a clear alternative — the safer place to bring up children and employ a more sober workforce — it will maintain a family-friendly brand no other zip code can compete with.

The Gazette’s editorial board has no overwhelming gripes with members of the council or dire warnings about anyone on the ballot. Our endorsements, announced March 17, favor candidates who oppose the legalization of recreational drugs, support public safety, oppose defunding law enforcement, support excellent wages and benefits for city employees while opposing unionization, support the military, defend a competitive free-market economy, and advocate better transportation infrastructure.

Those candidates include Dave Donelson (District 1), Randy Helms (District 2), Arthur Glenn (District 3), Regina English (District 4), Mary Elizabeth Fabian (District 5), and Mike O’Malley (District 6).

Colorado Springs will have a stable, effective government no matter who wins at the end of Tuesday’s counting. We thank all candidates for their willingness to serve and encourage them to reject fashionable governing trends that pose uncertain long-term results. We should never settle for looking and feeling like an also-ran city, late to embrace new urban policies that may end badly. Accept that yearbook advice. Stay the way we are — building upon strength and character with confidence — and we will go far.

This content was originally published here.