Third Democratic candidate enters county commissioner race
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Lower Blue resident Jeff Leigh became the latest to enter the Democratic primary contest for the county commissioner seat being vacated by Tom Long.
Long’s wife, Peggy, a Silverthorne town council member, is the sole Republican candidate for the position.
Local Democrats will vote Aug. 12 to decide between Leigh and two other candidates: Karn Stiegelmeier and Kerry Gibson. As chair of the Blue River Sierra Club group, Stiegelmeier is well-known conservation advocate. Gibson positioned herself as a moderate candidate with appeal to independent voters.
Leigh said his experience on local planning commissions and as a home builder would help him address important county issues like affordable housing. Grappling with housing means coming to terms with the fact that there’s always going to be a conflict between affordability and density, Leigh said.
“I’m not afraid of jumping in and getting something done,” Leigh said. The County should continue to work with the Summit Combined Housing Authority to make a dent on the lack of housing for local workers, he said.
“He’s knowledgeable and has a huge amount of experience as a building contractor. I know he’s concerned about the environment,” said supporter Jim Miller. Leigh also has managed the community water system for Mesa Cortina. Miller said Leigh’s background would help him address countywide issues as a commissioner.
“I’ve thought about it for a few years, then all of a sudden, the timing was good. This was the next step,” Leigh said of his decision to run for the open spot. “I’m approachable and accessible … My strengths are my involvement with the planning commissions.”
Leigh singled out his work on a Lower Blue master plan as a significant experience.
Overall, when looking at questions like water and traffic, Leigh said elected officials need to start thinking in terms of they county’s overall carrying capacity.
Leigh said that he would begin his work on the BOCC by taking a hard look at the spending side of the county’s budget.
“I’m a bit of a fiscal conservative,” he said. “I’m looking to get the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to spending public money. I’ve never talked to anyone who says they want their taxes to go up.”
Leigh didn’t pinpoint any specific areas of the budget where he thinks savings could be realized, but said he supports the recently announced energy audit of county facilities as a way to look for cost reductions.
“I’d like to look in detail where every dollar goes,” he said.
Energy efficiency is also critical from an environmental standpoint, Leigh said.
Scrutinizing and tweaking the county’s building and development codes to encourage the most energy-efficient design and construction is a way to stabilize and maybe even reduce the county’s carbon footprint, he said.
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