As the year 2021 rapidly comes to an end, Colorado Community Media caught up with Doulgas County Commissioners to talk about what they expect and goals they have for 2022.
District I Commissioner Abe Laydon
What do you hope to accomplish next year?
I hope to wisely direct resources, through significant expert data and robust public input, to deliver once-in-a-lifetime solutions around water infrastructure, mental health, wildfire prevention, homelessness, air quality, broadband and workforce that serve our citizens for generations to come. Douglas County citizens are special because they are smart, resilient and good-natured with the bravery, strength and dedication to their families to overcome adversity. I believe in the people I represent and have faith that there is nothing we can’t accomplish working together.
What was one of your major takeaways from 2021? What did you learn this year?
Douglas County citizens are remarkable. They prefer courage, freedom of choice and strong recommendations based on data over reactionary, one-size-fits-all mandates which needlessly control their personal decision-making with no measurable results. Douglas County has had no mask order or vaccination mandates yet our incidence rates for COVID are significantly lower than counties with masking, mandates and restrictions.
I also learned that the most important issue for COVID recovery, especially for our struggling healthcare industry, is workforce and encouraging those who may have left their jobs at hospitals due to fatigue, or lack of childcare when schools were closed, to return to work. Our hospitals have literally thousands of job openings. That is not a COVID issue so much as it is a hiring issue.
What prediction(s) do you have for Douglas County in 2022?
I predict that Douglas will again be the healthiest county in the country, the economy will soar, the rest of society will turn the corner on bad COVID public policies with a return to common sense and workforce will rebound like nothing we have ever seen.
What do you hope to accomplish next year? I hope to wisely direct resources, through significant expert data and robust public input, to deliver once-in-a-lifetime solutions around water infrastructure, mental health, wildfire prevention, homelessness, air quality, broadband and workforce that serve our citizens for generations to come. Douglas County citizens are special because they are smart, resilient and good-natured with the bravery, strength and dedication to their families to overcome adversity. I believe in the people I represent and have faith that there is nothing we can’t accomplish working together.
District 2 Commissioner George Teal
I’d like us to continue to work on expanding real freedom, liberty and opportunity for the people of Douglas County by making reforms to our home based business regulations, exploring short term rental policies that can work here in the county, as well as taking some firm steps towards home rule.
I learned a lot! I gained a lot of experience in my six years on the Castle Rock Town Council that prepared me well for many of the issues we face every day but there were still plenty of “new things” with the new job.
My biggest takeaway was our role as agents of the state. I didn’t have the appreciation when the year began for our responsibility to execute state policies, nor our ability to tailor how state policies are applied and executed here in the county.
Early in the year the board of county commissioners will allocate a large portion (over 30%) of the American Rescue Plan Act funds to one or more significant water infrastructure projects.
Funding for other projects will follow throughout the year in partnership with state and regional agencies.
The Douglas County Fair and Rodeo will win another award for excellence. Commissioners Thomas and Laydon will break with tradition at least once to vote down one of my harebrained ideas. A well-timed email from me will cause CDOT to forget to turn on the toll system on the I-25 Gap. Well, maybe not the last one, but I do intend to try! We are well on our way to establishing public health services here in the county and 2022 will see the county establish a local health department run by the people of Douglas County, for the people of Douglas County.
District 3 Commissioner Lora Thomas
What predictions do you have for Douglas County in 2022?
I predict that the challenge of allocating ARPA funds will be extremely difficult. First, we must ensure that these funds are used in the manner in which they were intended; giving free money to risky/questionable water projects when the county has no water customers is not an appropriate or intended use. We must be committed to not picking economic winners and losers, but instead ensuring that these funds are used in a way that benefits our entire county.
Two of my biggest takeaways from 2021 were 1. how much my constituents appreciate receiving weekly, direct information about what is happening with their county government and 2. my constituents’ enormous level of commitment to personal choice in matters of their own and their families’ health.
As a commissioner, I will keep fighting to limit the role of government in the daily lives of our citizens and ensure that, when government must enter those lives, that it adds value to them. As a candidate for sheriff, I expect to emerge from my party’s primary as the nominee and win the general election in November.
(Editor’s Note: Commissioner answers have been edited for grammar and clarity.)
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