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Can a Strong Mayor Bring Change to Pueblo, Colorado?

Switching to a strong-mayor system was a way to shake things up and put one person in charge of boosting the town’s fortunes.
Fairgoers walk the grounds of the Colorado State Fair and Rodeo, which is held annually in Pueblo.
Fairgoers walk the grounds of the Colorado State Fair and Rodeo, which is held annually in Pueblo.Jason Plautz

PUEBLO, COLORADO—Earlier this month, it was Nick Gradisar’s first week as mayor of this 109,000-person city, and he didn’t exactly hit the ground running. Instead of filling out his team, he had to work with the city council to authorize the position of chief of staff. With the city’s finance-director position vacant, it fell to Gradisar to approve expense reports in between meetings.

“Signing off on a $79 credit-card bill—I think that can be done at a different level than the mayor,” he said in an interview. “But until we can get things in order, that’s how it goes.”