Is Manitou’s Mayoral Race Hijacked?

In the past two weeks, Manitou residents have been saturated by a Denver-based PAC, the Centrist Fund, to sway the Manitou Springs Mayoral election.


Below is a document created by city councilman Bob Todd that Manitou Marquee has obtained. It investigates a Denver Pac, The Centrist Fund, that is pouring money and resources into Nicole Nicoletta’s bid for re-election. 

Needless to say, there is something stinky going on and we still have time to do something about it. 

Marquee Staff



Wednesday, October 25, 2017.

The two most frequently asked voter questions are:

  1. Why is the Centrist Fund involved in our City elections?

Charles Wheelen, founder or the Centrist Fund, answered that in July 2017:

“The big strategy is to focus on independents for the U.S. Senate. If we can get three or four centrist independents to win … you could easily have a situation where it’s 48 Republicans, three centrist independents, and 49 Democrats. Then those three become the Anthony Kennedy of the Senate … Nothing could get done without them being the swing votes, and they could float ideas that neither party was willing to touch. The idea is this:  it’s kind of an elegant hack to the system … Meanwhile, we’re starting to support independent state legislatures. In particular, we’re focusing on Colorado’s legislature, which looks like Congress in that it’s very closely divided.” 


Mr. Wheelen’s “elegant hack” is starting in Manitou Springs where the speculation is, if re-elected, the current Mayor would be the Centrist Fund’s contestant for Pete Lee’s term-limited Colorado House Seat that will be a vacancy to fill in the November 2018 State election.


2. What is the Centrist Fund doing to promote the current Mayor?

The full extent of the Centrist Fund activities is not known. They are promising disclosures after the November 7th election which is too late for voters to understand the full scope of their involvement in our local affairs.  What local citizens have observed are:


1 – Three rounds of emotively and professionally produced 6″ by 12″ color mailers.  Photographs of the current Mayor appear intentionally staged with her cooperation to fit the calculated persuasive themes of each mailer.  The most recent mailer, appearing to be the firestorm that descended on Mountain Shadows in 2012 has the caption, “What type of leader do you want when this happens?”  Choosing the word ‘when’ instead of ‘if’ is particularly disturbing.  The mailer is both intimidating and fear-based, stylistically in keeping with the leadership qualities, the current Mayor has indiscriminately exhibited at times to Council Members, City Staff, and Citizens over the past two years.

2 – Numerous phone calls to local residents extolling the virtues of the current mayor and requesting residents to vote in her favor. All these calls originate from a Denver-based call center using leading multiple-choice questions and caller-ID hacks to have our residents believe they are local calls.  In our small town, residents might call one another about local politics, but they would not expect calls from Denver marketers or our current Ward 1 councilor stating “I am working with the Centrist election fund.”  Something is wrong with this picture.

3 – When the Mayoral candidates were asked at last Monday’s October 16th Briarhurst debate about their knowledge or involvement with these activities bombarding Manitou Springs from the outside, our current Mayor stated she was aware of the Centrist Project but avoided denying or confirming direct involvement with them.  As this picture continues to unfold something seems really wrong.  One word that may come to mind is ‘trust’.

4 – Prompted by advance knowledge of a feature and letters-to-the-editor in this week’s (October 25th – 31st ) Colorado Springs Independent a ‘Message from the mayor’ was provided prior to the Tuesday, October 24th publication deadline.  Her ‘message’ again sidesteps the debate question from more than a week ago.  And the further sidesteps questions from this past weekend on the visible triangle between the Centrist Fund – the current Mayor – and her ad-featured Manitou Springs endorsement, the current Ward 1 Councilor, who was making robo calls ‘working with the Centrist Fund … to re-elect the current Mayor’. Really, nothing is being coordinated, it is all spontaneous serendipity?


COS Independent Feature:


COS Independent Letters to Editor

Not Nicoletta  –  Aimee Cox, former Manitou Springs Council member

Message from the Mayor  – Mayor Nicoletta, Manitou Springs

(hotlink for last letter only, two prior letters available soon by search on the COS Independent homepage)


Community sentiment is running high over this last-minute attempt to high-jack the Manitou Mayoral Race with money pouring in from outside interests that are not aligned with either Manitou’s values or best interests. City elections are non-partisan, yet the Centrist Fund is labeling the current Mayor as an Independent who is fed up with our Country’s two-party system.  The Centrist Fund declared last spring that they had identified and were targeting five 2017 Local elections through which they planned to promote and secure five Independents in local posts as a stepping stone to higher positions in Colorado State’s Legislature during the 2018 State elections. Their stated strategy is to create an Independent caucus voting as a block to swing votes as Colorado’s Legislature has traditionally been balanced between Republicans and Democrats requiring one another to reach across the aisle in finding common ground and solutions.



If the above concerns resonate with you, here is what you can do:


1 – Email this link to Manitou Springs residents; post it on Facebook.

Discuss this with your family, neighbors, friends, and associates. Hear their thoughts out and assume they will hear your thoughts out. Email this file to Manitou Springs residents; post it online.

2 – Educate yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Links providing information related to the Centrist Fund are posted below.

3 – Last Saturday’s particularly offensive mailer ended by urging voters to return their mail-in ballots over the weekend to pre-empt citizen research, rebuttal, and contemplation. Pause and take time to review further information that will undoubtedly be revealed in the

Pause and take time to review further information that will undoubtedly be revealed in the Pikes Peak Bulletin (Oct 26th and Nov 2nd), news sources and online over the next week.

4 – Do your best to vote wisely; all things considered. Ensure your Ballots are returned in the mail by Friday, Nov 3rd, in the City Hall outside ballot drop by Monday, Nov 6th or vote in person at City Hall on Tuesday, Nov 7th where with proper ID you may register and vote on Election Day, for further information on your status:


The 2016 election was decided by just 8 votes – every vote counts in Manitou !


Manitou Springs has and will always pride itself on being a self-governing home rule City as protected by the Colorado State Constitution.   We, who have been privileged to live here, have all volunteered and contributed to our City’s well being through the good and tough times.  We have not been swayed by the National or State political flavor of the day.  We have charted and maintained our course through the last ten years of recession and natural disaster and recovery.  Today we are facing big City social, infrastructure and workforce challenges.  This is not the time to capitulate addressing those challenges to outside forces determined to undermine Manitou Springs’s  electoral values and processes; to place a pawn of their campaign into the most highly elected office of our City, and to use the Mayor’s office as a springboard to a State Legislature seat in twelve months.

This document has been prepared for circulation among the voters, residents, and businesses of Manitou Springs, CO.

Facts presented herein have been personally researched and referenced by the links herein and below.  Matters of opinion are my own; however, they have not been made lightly and are shared by respected citizens forming a representative cross-section of Manitou Springs.  This document may be posted online or circulated by email.  If anyone has concerns or questions regarding its content or wants recordings or copies of the referenced materials please call me.

I am providing this information in response to voter inquiries and my concerns as a private citizen.

Robert Todd
Private Citizen



Links that have further information on the Centrist Fund.


Charles Wheelen, Centrist Founder  – Unsuccessful candidate for US Senate


Nick Tro iano

Unsuccessful Candidate for US Congress

Centrist Colorado Executive Director

Denver, CO


Colorado Independent

A Non-Profit 

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