A great deal of ink on paper and in the virtual world has been spent on the trials and tribulations of Adams County’s corrupt elected officials (coincidentally all of whom are Democrats). Residents have had enough and a host of them are stepping up and running for office in an attempt to clean up the besmirched county.
Adams County’s District 1 is currently represented on the Board of County Commissioners by Skip Fischer. Rather than face the ire of a disgusted electorate, Fischer has wisely chosen not to seek a third term in November.
Vying to replace him are Gary Mikes, Jeffrey Kraft and Kaarl Hoopes. I recently had an opportunity to speak to all three as they prepare for the county assembly on March 17th.
All three are fine candidates and certainly all are well aware of the hard work ahead in continuing the cleaning up of county government started by Commissioner Erik Hansen.
Following are some brief comments about each of them and the conversation I had with them. Also provided are links to the stories done on them by the Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel which provides a good primer on each.
- Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel: Fed-up resident jumps into race; Businessman seeks commissioner post
- Gary Mikes’ website
Business owner Gary Mikes is looking to take the step from private industry to public service in his run. Mikes said he feels compelled to serve the people of Adams County having watched the ‘travesty’ of scandals plaguing county government.
Mikes believes Adams County is a good place to run a business as he has done successfully for decades but it could be better. “How can you run a business when you can’t count on the government to do the right thing,“ he said.
He credited current Commissioner Erik Hansen with starting the county down the path of restoring its reputation but said that Hansen needs help. “The only way we’re going to change the culture is to put the right people in office,” he said.
Transparency in governance, something which Adams County sorely lacks, is a major issue for Mikes.
Contracts between the county and vendors should be easily accessible to citizens to review Mikes said. “Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent.”
Mikes also wants to see Board of County Commissioner meetings moved to a time when citizens can attend and participate. He believes that the practice of holding them during the day on weekdays prevents the average citizen for attending and that it is not fair.
In November Adams County voters will be offered the choice of expanding the board to five. Mikes believes five would provide better governance with a wider variety of opinions and greater shared responsibility. He however said he is concerned about the additional cost involved.
Mikes told the Sentinel that taxpayers were ‘duped’ on the RTD FasTracks boondoggle. He said he would only support a tax increase for the project if Adams County receives assurances that residents will get what they paid for.
This will be Kaarl Hoopes’ second attempt at elected office having fallen short in a run for State House District 32 in 2010. While he did not win office that year, he did manage to have a better showing than any Republican in House District 32 ever has had.
Politically active in the north metro area, like all of the candidates this year Hoopes has had enough of seeing Adams County portrayed in a bad light. Ethics issues are a priority.
The municipal inmate jail cap is something that he feels should never have become an issue. While there are indications that the county will remove the cap before the election, Hoopes said he would ensure it was removed if it still was around if he wins the election.
On the issue of expanding the Board of County Commissioners to five, Hoopes said he is against the measure. “Governance in a principled fashion would not require more commissioners,” he said.
His concern is that a larger board would make it more difficult to get things done. Given the recent history in Adams County, we don’t however think that is necessarily a bad thing.
Hoopes was non-committal on whether or not he would support an increase in the sales tax to bailout out RTD’s Fastracks boondoggle. He did say that, “There are ways to intelligently deploy rail and make it economically feasible” and that ensuring Adams County residents get what they paid for is paramount.
Kraft ran for office in 2007 seeking the office of mayor of the City of Thornton. He did not really campaign however and had a dismal showing in what he called an opportunity to “get his feet wet” in politics.
Like all of the candidates, Kraft is spurred on by the amazing level of corruption in county government. He said that while Fischer appears not to have been a party to it, as one of the leaders of the county he should have been aware and more vocal.
On the proposal of expanding the board of commissioners, Kraft said that whether there are three or five, the quality of people on the board matters most. He felt that it was up to the voters to ensure the right people are put in office. “Decent people provide a better check and balance,” he said.
The use of community action groups to tackle various issues within the county is a hallmark of Kraft’s campaign. He feels that an increase in participation by citizens in local and county affairs is needed.
Calling the idea of a tax increase for Fastracks “disgusting”, Kraft would like to see RTD explore more corporate sponsorships and private partnerships to pay for the project.