Rachel Beck is the consummate insider with connections to the media, government, business and neighborhoods. Anthony Carlson is the upstart newcomer who landed here 19 months ago for a trial run at finding a place to settle. Each has been credited with shepherding a controversial ballot measure to victory on Nov. 7 in a city known for its aversion to tax hikes and government solutions.
Beck moved here from California in 1998 at the age of 20 and earned an English degree from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. A seasoned public relations expert, she’s worked for the city and Colorado Springs Utilities, run her own PR business, and now serves as government affairs manager for the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.
Beck led the “vote yes” campaign for the city’s stormwater fee, a retread of a 2014 measure that failed. This time, she says, her three-prong formula blended support from Mayor John Suthers, a simpler ask, and use of “a lot of networks to tap into for voter turnout.” The biggest obstacle, she says, was convincing people “to open their wallets for a problem they don’t see.”
Carlson led the campaign for Colorado Springs School District 11’s $42 million mill levy override, a revision of a measure that failed a year ago. A military brat, Carlson earned a marketing degree from Midwestern State University in Texas. After managing the west Texas territory for an internet company, he moved into politics and community-building, traveling from Virginia to Oregon. Last year, he came to Colorado Springs to manage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign for the Democratic Party, though he’s unaffiliated, and decided he liked the view. “I just have a heart for communities like Colorado Springs that have so much potential,” he says.
After the presidential election, he helped elect new faces to the City Council in April, before joining the D-11 campaign. Advocates, he says, knocked on 40,000 doors and made 50,000 phone calls. Carlson says he’ll stick around. “I called my mom and said, ‘I think I found home,'” he says. “It’s new for me to feel I have a place, and I love it.”