In the race to decide who represents part of Aurora on Arapahoe County’s board of elected leaders, Democrat Leslie Summey has a strong lead over Republican Bob Roth, according to unofficial results as of just after 4 p.m. Nov. 9.
Summey held roughly 64% of the vote to Roth’s 36%. Summey had garnered 20,200 votes to Roth’s 11,100. These are early results and election officials continue to count ballots.
Summey felt her "journey in life" enabled her to understand others who are struggling.
"There’s all those kitchen-table issues that people have to deal with every day, talking about putting food on the table, how do we keep the lights on," Summey said in an afternoon interview on Nov. 9.
She said the road has not always been smooth for her, her husband and their five kids. On her mind is the county government’s responsibility in ensuring quality of life in Arapahoe County.
In an interview late on Election Night amid a large lead by Summey, Roth did not concede the race, saying he was awaiting more votes to be counted.
Five commissioners oversee Arapahoe County government.
District 4 encompasses the southwest Aurora area, roughly west of Buckley Road.
The winner will represent a new face in leadership for the 650,000-person county that is addressing the cost of housing and launching a new public health agency as Tri-County Health Department prepares to dissolve.
Democrat Leslie Summey has said her parents instilled in her a passion for service, and she later joined the Navy.
Summey said in a previous interview that she champions "working class values.”
If elected, Summey said her first priority would be exempting Arapahoe County from its tax revenue cap requirements mandated under TABOR. Several counties have already pulled out of TABOR requirements, known as "de-Brucing," allowing local officials to retain and spend all revenue generated within the year. Currently, Arapahoe County must return funds it collects if it exceeds a certain threshold each year.
Summey estimates the county could retain tens of millions of dollars more to bolster services for the growing population.
Summey said her lived experience of economic struggle is what is needed on the commissioner board and hopes it will help her muster support with voters.
“Instead of pushing things, kicking things down the road because we don’t have the money to deal with it that year, we’d have several million dollars to fix the roads, to talk about infrastructure, to work on homelessness, to provide more funding for our public health department," Summey said previously.
Summey also supports spending on affordable housing, something she said the county is in dire need of whether through new developments or repurposing of existing buildings.
Summey has made diversity and equity a pillar of her campaign, saying the current national political climate has stoked "a lot of fear." She called the Supreme Court's decision in May to overturn Roe. v. Wade — ending federal abortion protections — "an unprecedented situation" where the government has "taken away the right of women to just their own destiny."
Summey has said she supports LGBTQ rights and will ensure the county is a welcoming place for those groups as well as immigrants, people of color and working-class people.
Republican and former Aurora City Councilmember Bob Roth’s background touches both public and private sector experience. He has worked 30 years as a residential and commercial developer and served more than a decade in various roles on boards and committees.
The two main pillars of Roth's campaign are infrastructure and public safety. He said he believes in crossing political lines and wants a regional approach to addressing public safety concerns, describing a feeling of increased "lawlessness" over recent years.
He also said the jail needs upgrades. It was built in 1986 and only designed to fit 386 beds. With the addition of double and even triple bunks, the jail can now house 1,458 beds, but pipes and plumbing need upkeep.
Roth said he opposes leaving TABOR — the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a state amendment that limits the amount of revenue the state government can spend — which he said was put in place "to protect the taxpayers for government overreach."
With his experience as a developer, Roth has said he is poised to help address the county's housing issues, namely the lack of an affordable supply — such as townhomes.
“We have got to have that product available for first-time buyers and people who are downsizing," Roth has said, adding the lack of availability is a key barrier to home ownership.
Roth said he would also like to explore other housing options, such as tiny homes and protected land trusts that control a land's price, as ways to bring down costs.
*** Election results will be updated on election night, Nov. 8, and, as necessary, on Nov. 9 or later. Check back for the latest results.***
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