COVID-19, sales tax and crime were among the subjects mentioned by candidates for Jeffco District Attorney and Board of Commissioners during a virtual forum held on Sept. 17. The event, which was …
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COVID-19, sales tax and crime were among the subjects mentioned by candidates for Jeffco District Attorney and Board of Commissioners during a virtual forum held on Sept. 17.
The event, which was held during the September meeting of the West Colfax Community Association, gave each of the candidates three minutes to make a pitch to the association’s members, which include business owners, community leaders and other citizens who are involved or interested in the revitalization of the West Colfax Avenue corridor in Lakewood. Here is a look at what each of the candidates had to say.
Republican Libby Szabo, who has been on the board for 5 ½ years, touted her experience serving both as a commissioner and in the state legislature.
“The board has seen a lot of turnover the last few years and will experience more turnover next year,” said Szabo. “I will be the only commissioner that will have more than a few years of experience and that experience is vital to Jeffco.”
Szabo said she has demonstrated that she can be a bold leader in stormy times by working to ensure that Federal CARES Act dollars received by the county go toward the right hands, included business and nonprofits.
“I know the heavy burden of government does not provide the opportunity for you to live your American dream,” she said. “I have always made sure the people’s voice is not outweighed by government intervention.”
Democrat Tracy Kraft-Tharp described her various experiences in local government, which have included serving on the Jeffco Public Schools Accountability Committee, and, most visibly, as a state representative since 2013.
She said she has earned a reputation at the legislature for being business-friendly and considers working at simplifying the state’s sales and use tax as her premier accomplishment.
“Sales tax in Colorado is the most complicated in the country because we have our state system and then our local home rule system,” said Kraft-Tharp. “We are working closely with Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul for Lakewood to join in to simplify that system because it’s pretty important to make sure businesses are not spending a day and a half every month submitting their sales tax.”
Kraft-Tharp said there are three things that will differentiate her: her accessibility, ability to bring people together and ability to get things done and not just talk, talk, talk.
Libertarian Party candidate Hans Roomer is also running for the District 1 position.
Republican Joni Inman discussed her deep roots in Jeffco, where she attended Bear Creek High School and has raised her own family and worked in a variety of jobs.
“If you combine my professional experience as a business consultant, former deputy city manager and director of the mayor’s office in Lakewood as well as having served on the board of trustee’s and later as the VP of Public Affairs at St. Anthony’s hospital, I think you will agree that my management experience in both business and local government makes me the most qualified candidate for this office,” she said.
She said her priorities are responsible, competent management of taxpayer dollars, community safety, a flourishing business environment and empowering families in need.
Democrat Andy Kerr, who has served in the state legislature for 12 years, said he will bring his experience serving in both the state senate and house to the board, including experience chairing the education committees in both chambers.
He also discussed his ties to the county, where he grew up near Green Mountain and has taught at both Jeffco Public Schools and, currently, as an adjunct instructor at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.
He said his priorities will include revitalizing and recharging Jeffco’s economy and “making sure we are bringing our homegrown experience to the Jefferson County commission.”
“I want to make sure we are using science and data to address any crisis like the crisis we are facing right now,” he said.
Republican Matthew Durkin, who is currently a chief DA in the First Judicial District, touted his role leading the teams that achieved justice in crimes such as the murder of Andrew Jenicek and, more recently, in filing chargers against two men accused of killing two brothers outside a Lakewood Walmart.
“I love our community but I hate to see what’s happening to it,” said Durkin. “We have a drug addiction crisis that is fueling a crime wave and I agree with Mayor Paul’s comments at our last meeting that we celebrate the unique nature of the Colfax corridor but we can and must do better because drug addiction and violence ruin victims, ruin offenders and have a negative impact on the business attorney.”
He said has experience running a prosecutor’s office as the deputy attorney general where said he worked “with both Democrats and Republicans at the forefront of criminal justice reform.”
“Please join me in my vision of putting away one of the worst recidivism rates in the country at nearly 50 percent by implementing effective drug treatment for offenders,” he said.
Democrat Alexis King focused her comments on her history as a reformer and problem solver within the criminal justice system and desire to bring that approach to Jefferson County.
She said she spent 10 years as a prosecutor in the DA’s office but became frustrated with the question of whether the DA’s office was making the Jeffco community safer.
That led her to become involved with several reform efforts, including helping to launch two diversionary tracts in juvenile courts to keep juveniles out of detention facilities and working to establish mandatory state minimums for human trafficking offenders while serving as the attorney’s trafficking prosecutor.
“As your district attorney, I want to bring further transparent governance to how we as district attorneys are using our profound power in the community,” she said.
King said she has is running to “increase bail bond reform efforts to make sure we aren’t over-incarcerating folks and have better answers and solutions for them, to create a pre-file diversion program so that not every person has to go through the courthouse and to increase transparency so we can be very honest as public servants about our efforts and whether people are being treated the same or differently based on their identity in the criminal justice system.”
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