Arapahoe County District 1
A trio of candidates of varying political stripes are jockeying to represent the southwestern portion of Arapahoe County on the board of county commissioners this November.
Incumbent Republican Kathleen Conti is aiming to parry challenges from Democrat Carrie Warren-Gully. Libertarian Joshua Lallement is also on the ballot but did not provide information for this report.
A former state representative, Conti is seeking her second four-year term at the helm of the commission’s district one, which covers primarily Littleton, Englewood, Cherry Hills Village and Sheridan. No portion of the jurisdiction covers Aurora, Conti said.
For that reason, she declined to complete a candidate questionnaire submitted by The Sentinel.
“Because I don’t have any citizen base in Aurora I just thought that it might not be the best use of my time,” she said.
Lallement also did not respond to requests for comment or complete an emailed candidate questionnaire by press deadline.
Warren-Gully, a current member of the Littleton Public Schools Board of Education, said she would work with municipalities, businesses and developers to address growth in the mushrooming county that’s expected to exceed 700,000 residents in the next five years.
“County Commissioners should not be interfering with the decisions of our local municipalities, however, there are plenty of times that projects are big enough to cross county lines, and several municipalities,” she wrote in a candidate questionnaire. “If we are working together and are working towards a long range strategic plan we can take the time to have a conversation with our community, our development partners and our business community to plan for an Arapahoe County that respects the myriad of needs and concerns.”
Warren-Gully ran for the same post on the commission eight years ago before she won her current seat to the school board in Littleton, Secretary of State records show.
She questioned Conti’s previous legislative record, including her previous support for preserving so-called gay conversion therapy in the state. Gov. Jared Polis signed a measure formally outlawing the practice for Colorado minors last year.
“Our current commissioner has a very divisive record in her votes for supporting gay conversion therapy — thinking we can turn our LGBTQ neighbors straight, supporting a constitutional convention to overturn the Affordable Care Act, and in not trusting our public health experts when it comes to wearing masks,” Warren-Gully wrote of her Republican opponent.
The Democratic and Republican candidates have raised similar amounts of money for their respective campaigns this cycle, though monies Conti already had in her coffers from previous years puts her well ahead in terms of funds still on hand. Conti had spent about $10,000 as of her last filed finance report in July, according to Secretary of State records. That left her with more than $25,000 at the time.
Warren-Gully had spent almost $16,000 as of July, and maintained $11,000 in the bank. This week, the Arapahoe County Democratic Party injected $1,000 into her campaign, records show.
Democrat Carrie Warren-Gully is the current treasurer for the Littleton Public Schools Board of Education and president of the Colorado Association of School Boards. She is the former executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. She previously ran for the same post on the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners in 2012.
BIO: Republican Kathleen Conti has been a familiar face in Republican politics along the Front Range for a decade. She represented house district 38 — which covers many of the same communities she now represents on the board of commissioners — in the legislature from 2010 to 2016. She is currently serving as the board’s finance officer.
What are the biggest challenges Arapahoe County faces in the next 10 years?
When elected, my number one focus will be to restore the community voice to this seat and ensure we represent all of Arapahoe County in District 1 -- having a voice at the table shouldn’t depend on the neighborhood you live in. My top issues:
- Support small businesses during our economic recovery and ensure they have the resources they need and can compete against big box stores.
- Strengthen the voice of Arapahoe County families and workers by leveling the playing field to bring them fair wages and contracts on county contracts, thus giving them a shot at the American Dream.
- Include funding for our vulnerable populations, prioritize our public health during this pandemic, support mental health services and partnering between the County and School Districts. This also includes supporting young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities to transition from the school setting to adult living.
- Growth is going to happen, and we need to ensure when it does, there is access to affordable homes -- but we must do so while respecting the character of our neighborhoods. We need to bring long-term thinking and smart growth to Arapahoe County.
- Protecting open spaces and trails.
What is your philosophy on how the county should approach growth, especially as Arapahoe County is expected to surpass 700,000 residents by 2025?
With a county like Arapahoe we really need to be doing more long-term planning. Arapahoe County is large and diverse with 13 cities, 9 school districts and a multitude of special districts. Our leaders need to be collaborative and problem solvers. Many parts of our county are built out which creates a different type of planning versus the areas on the eastern side of the county that have opportunity for growth and requires another type of planning. County Commissioners should not be interfering with the decisions of our local municipalities, however, there are plenty of times that projects are big enough to cross county lines, and several municipalities. If we are working together and are working towards a long range strategic plan we can take the time to have a conversation with our community, our development partners and our business community to plan for an Arapahoe County that respects the myriad of needs and concerns.
Do you support pursuing another ballot measure sometime in the next four years to either replace or repair the current Arapahoe County Detention Facility?
I will work to make sure that we are collaborating with our judicial system and the many organizations working right now to address criminal justice issues. The goal should be to minimize the need for people to be in jail when they are better served receiving mental health services, addiction treatment services, or other forward thinking diversion programs.
The Arapahoe County Detention Facility is a primary responsibility of the County. It is a part of our infrastructure and the reality is; it is falling apart and costing taxpayers a lot of money to maintain an inefficient building.
The center is overcrowded which causes great concern about the safety of the inmates and the staff. Overcrowding also makes it nearly impossible to provide proper services for inmates, such as, retraining facilities to help with next steps when they leave the detention center, private rooms where inmates can meet with their legal advisors, or individual rooms for inmates that are experiencing thoughts of harming themselves for medical watch.
Looking to the future we need to have a facility that can complement a broad range of services. Not everyone that is part of the system needs to be in a full-time detention facility. There are many opportunities for diversion programs that work with individuals experiencing substance abuse and other mental health issues. For individuals that need to be in the facility full time, we need to provide opportunities for training, education and counseling -- so they are ready for next steps when they leave.
Briefly describe your professional background, including areas of expertise, roles and responsibilities.
I’m a small business owner and Treasurer of the Littleton Public School Board, where I steward a $167.5 million budget for local taxpayers. I grew up in Englewood and my three boys attended Arapahoe High School. I have a hands-on understanding of the issues facing families, entrepreneurs, and our neighborhoods in Arapahoe County. Additionally, I have worked in the nonprofit sector -- serving as the Executive Director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. This means I know how to listen, collaborate with various groups and local governments, and solve problems. I know that no political party has a monopoly on good ideas and we can only overcome our challenges by working together. My experience in working with budgets, bringing forth long-term planning, and working together, is the leadership we need in Arapahoe County to navigate us through this crisis and help us overcome the big challenges we face.
What makes you uniquely qualified for this seat?
I know how to bring people together to solve problems. Our current commissioner has a very divisive record in her votes for supporting gay conversion therapy -- thinking we can turn our LGBTQ neighbors straight, supporting a constitutional convention to overturn the Affordable Care Act, and in not trusting our public health experts when it comes to wearing masks.
When I’m elected, the current divisive approach to governing our county will change. I’ll bring our community together to guide us through this pandemic and economic crisis. The only way we can solve the challenges we face and bring about economic recovery is by listening to one another, working together, and ensuring we leave our neighborhoods a better place than when we found them.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
What movie will you watch again no matter how many times you’ve seen it?
Pride and Prejudice
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What talent do you have that most people don’t know about?
I love to listen to and sing Broadway musical songs as I cook dinner
If you wrote a memoir, what would you call it?
What is the Next Chapter?
What’s your favorite curbside guilty pleasure?
Eating movie theater popcorn and red licorice at the movies
What was the last book you read?
Leadership in Tumultuous Times
Have you found any unexpected upsides to wearing a facemask during the pandemic?
I love reading people's expressions in their eyes. Lots of beautiful eyes out there.
What’s your favorite family tradition?
Friday night pizza and movie night. Especially when I get to pick the movie.
If you had a boat, what would you name it?
If you could only listen to one song forever, what would it be?
Bach’s unaccompanied cello Suite No. 1 in G major.
Which reality television show do you think you’d be best at?
American Idol! (I would not be the best but it would be fun!)
What do you think needs to be invented more than anything?
Clean energy production that can be stored and dispersed in an affordable and efficient manner across our globe.
Republican Kathleen Conti has been a familiar face in Republican politics along the Front Range for a decade. She represented house district 38 — which covers many of the same communities she now represents on the board of commissioners — in the legislature from 2010 to 2016. She is currently serving as the board’s finance officer.
Kathleen Conti did not respond
Kathleen Conti did not respond