OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
In Pueblo, Colorado, a Republican city councilor emerged victorious on Tuesday, defeating her Democratic opponent. This outcome, which can be seen as a comfortable win, serves as a referendum on the unsatisfactory left-wing leadership of the past five years.
Heather Graham emerged triumphant as the initial vote count revealed a substantial lead over the current Mayor Nick Gradisar, with a tally of 14,171 votes compared to his 8,355 votes. Although the state’s Democratic secretary of state will not officially record the result until February 1, the overwhelming victory was sufficient for the city council president to declare that she had witnessed enough.
“The first female mayor, that’s exciting… it’s been a long run. I’ve had lots of help along the way, and I’m excited to carry this title for the next four years,” Graham told a local ABC affiliate. “I think that people have been dissatisfied with the leadership over the last five years and they’re ready for a change.”
“I’m surrounded by tons of citizens who had concerns that they brought to me and hopefully over the next four years, we’re able to do something about it,” she added.
Mayor Gradisar called Graham after the race was called to concede.
“The margin was so great that the remaining number of ballots wasn’t going to make a difference. So I decided to concede and call Heather Graham to congratulate her on being the mayor-elect for the City of Pueblo,” Gradisar said.
“Our conversation was good. He congratulated me on the win and said he didn’t necessarily know it was going to end up like this. He said it’s hard work, which I know, and I’m looking forward to the challenges and the hard work that comes in the next four years,” Graham said.
Nick Gradisar concedes to Heather Graham in race in Pueblo’s runoff election for mayor. https://t.co/Uq1IXu4Ew0
— Scott Kilbury (@SKilburyFOX21) January 24, 2024
Pueblo, like numerous other progressive cities in America, has been confronted with an increase in crime and homelessness. This has resulted in financial difficulties for the city and has left voters angry at Gradisar for not providing effective solutions over five years.
“But there are no simple solutions to the problems of crime and homelessness or that would have been done by now. My opponent did a good job of identifying the problems, identifying the issues, but that’s the cheapest trick in politics, to identify that without offering any solutions. So we’ll see what solutions are going to be put forth,” Gradisar said.
The Democrat adopted a principled approach, urging his followers to unite behind the incoming mayor and guarantee a seamless transition of power and provision of municipal services.
“We have to be ready to rally behind the mayor. We don’t have any choice. She’s going to be the mayor for the next four years. I think there are some other issues this community is going to face and this country is going to face that people need to get involved in. As I told my supporters earlier, it’s incumbent on each of us as individuals, our democracy is at stake in this country,” Gradisar said.
Graham, an entrepreneur, was elected to the city council in 2021 after gaining prominence for spearheading demonstrations against the city’s Covid lockdown measures. The incumbent president, who is serving her second term, expressed her anticipation to fulfill her campaign pledges.
“Our vision for Pueblo is a city where all residents feel safe and supported,” Graham said. “As your next mayor, I’m committed to leading Pueblo towards a brighter future, working alongside all of you to create a safer, stronger city.”
“I’m most looking forward to taking the concerns of the constituents and providing solutions to the problems that they’re having,” Graham said.