During the City Council elections in April, incumbent District 4 City Council member Yolanda Avila will be challenged by Harrison School District 2 School Board Vice President Regina English.

Elected in 2017, Avila has been an advocate for infrastructure construction and improvements throughout Southeast Colorado Springs, and was a vocal critic of what is now the city’s Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission.

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Colorado Springs City Council District 4 representative Yolanda Avila

“What we’re doing now is lukewarm,” said Avila during a June 23, 2020 city council meeting regarding the formation of the commission. “It is not addressing what the people are asking for out there, and so I am not going to support this until we get something strong. As it stands right now, no. Because this is not giving voice to the community. It is the status quo, and that is what is wanted by this [mayoral] administration, and it is not wanted by the people and the community.”

In addition to serving as the D2 School Board Vice President, English is also a RISE resident leader and the founder of BeYou, a youth mentoring program.

“I tell people all the time, ‘I carry many titles,’ and school board has been the most gratifying,” she said. “It’s been an honor to be vocal for our students and setting our students up for success. In terms of my experience and everything I will bring to City Council, it’s just having that mental capacity to be able to bring balance to leadership and decision-making. I think my experience running my own organization, and being a doctoral student, all the things I do collectively has prepared me for this moment.”

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Harrison School District 2 Vice President Regina English

English says the community called on her to run for office.

“I wasn’t going to, at first,” she said. “I was going to wait and run for the at-large seat because I’m working on my doctorate, so that keeps me busy. Things began to happen, and dynamics began to change here in the Southeast. I’ve been getting phone calls from my community, and my community began to call on me. It’s like, ‘Well, wait, hold on.’ I prayed about it, and everything lined up the way it’s supposed to, so if the community needs my voice right now, why would I wait? Community called on me to be a strong, consistent, transparent, collective community voice.”

Southeast Colorado Springs faces a number of issues, from access to public transportation and infrastructure and rising gun violence statistics to balancing the needs of residents for affordable housing options, while incentivizing residential and commercial development, which is slowly changing the character of Southeast Colorado Springs.

“A lot of people are coming in from out-of-state. It’s a fine balance in that we don’t want people to come in droves and take over the character of the neighborhood, but it will be good to have a mix of people — locals and new people — to spur the revitalization of the district,” said Avila during a June interview. “The people that come, they will have something to say. After living in Southeast for a while they will be making demands of the City to pay attention to the Southeast and to make sure that we have what the rest of the city has. Guess who I hear from more than anyone? People who have just moved here, like in Soaring Eagles and different areas. These people are coming new, from the East Coast, the West Coast, and they are letting their demands be heard. These same people, when multi-family units go up, they’re the first people that complain about it. It’s changing with the new people that are coming in.”

English plans to remain responsive to needs of Southeast residents.

“There’s a lot of different issues and a lot of different platforms I could run on,” she said, “so my thing is the wants and needs of the community. That’s, holistically, my platform. I know there’s still work with transportation, economic development, homelessness, different things like that.  Those are things we’re going to have to continue to attack to make sure they’re truly taking care of the people in the community. For me, it’s about making sure the voice of the community is amplified and I’m responding to what the community wants by being that leader and that voice for our community.”

The Southeast Express will be hosting two future, virtual events with both candidates to allow readers to learn more about civic government and hear from the candidates about their stance on the issues impacting Southeast Colorado Springs. On Feb. 17 at 11:30 a.m., the Express will host a Civic Engagement Panel to help residents better understand the functioning of civic government. It will feature both Avila and English, as well as Dr. Joshua Dunn, executive director of the Center for the Study of Government and the Individual and professor and chair of UCCS’s department of political science and Shannon Rauen, program director for civic outreach at the Center for the Study of Government and the Individual.

On Mar. 24 at 12 p.m. The Southeast Express will host a Community Conversation between the candidates to address pressing issues in Southeast Colorado Springs. Both events will be streamed on Facebook Live.

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.