Via The Fort Morgan Times
Congressional District 4 Republican primary candidate Barbara Kirkmeyer has the right combination of knowledge about rural and urban issues to represent the region.
That was the consensus of her supporters as she stopped at the Fort Morgan Airport during a tour of Northeast Colorado on Thursday.
Kirkmeyer said she has been all over the district, which extends to Douglas County and Greeley, fundraising and “to get to know folks” in order to be able to represent them accurately on issues if she is selected as the Republican candidate and wins the election in November.
Kirkmeyer grew up on a diary farm in northern Jefferson County, and later was co-owner of a dairy in southwest Weld County, she said.
She also owned a successful floral and gift shop in Fort Collins.
That combination of experience means she has an understanding of the challenges of agriculture and business, Kirkmeyer said.
She also has long experience as a public servant, having served as a Weld County commissioner from 1993 to 2000, leaving due to term limits, and coming back as a commissioner in 2009. During the hiatus, she worked for the Bill Owens administration in the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, she said.
Kirkmeyer said her greatest accomplishment as a commissioner was working with her board to balance the Weld County budget, pay off its debt and making sure that that county’s residents do not have a county sales tax. The board made a conscious decision in the 1990s to do those things.
Weld County has given its residents TABOR refunds over the past 10 years to the tune of $278 million, she said.
That was accomplished through fiscally prudent policies and providing services such as roads and public safety at the necessary levels, Kirkmeyer said.
When Weld County was faced with state or federal mandates, it fought for the funding to make them happen, she said.
During the recession, the commissioners worked to create an atmosphere of entrepreneurship, Kirkmeyer said, while making changes to regulations and zoning to make it easier for business.
The county also had a business incentive program which reduced fees if businesses wanted to move to the county, she said.
At one point, the commissioners told county departments to bring them plans for 15 percent cuts to each department, and overall the county did see a 12 percent cut, Kirkmeyer said.
Weld County now has the lowest mill levy among the Front Range counties, and “that’s huge for business,” she said. Weld County was noted as the fifth in the nation for job growth during 2013.
Similarly, agriculture needs to have the regulations governing it reduced, Kirkmeyer said.
If she serves in the U.S. congress, she will take a look at regulations created by the Environmental Protection Agency and other similar agencies in an effort to reduce regulations on farmers and ranchers, she said.
“I want to get them out of our lives and out of our business,” Kirkmeyer said.
She is also a “staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment,” she said. The Board of Weld County Commissioners passed ordinances reaffirming the right to bear arms, and explicitly saying the board could not do anything to infringe on that right. That will make it more difficult for a future board to change them back.
About 85 percent of the state’s energy production comes from the 4th Congressional District, Kirkmeyer noted. It is important to the state economy and she supports “responsible development.”
She was involved with rulemaking on the oil and natural gas industry to ensure that agriculture and energy development could co-exist, she said.
Kirkmeyer said county officials visit with oil and gas producers in the field each month to address the ways that the industry impacts the lives of area residents and to mitigate those impacts. Since county officials know where each company is located and has established relationships, officials feel comfortable calling them up if there is a problem.
“They respond in a very quick manner,” Kirkmeyer said.
Weld County also adopted a Smart Energy Program, which encourages the use of compressed natural gas as a vehicle fuel, she said. It helped make sure that the county has four natural gas fueling stations, and converted part of the county fleet to natural gas.
“It’s a good deal all around,” Kirkmeyer said.
When she had to replace her car, she bought a natural gas using vehicle, which she estimates has saved her about $1,500 a year in fuel costs, she said.
The 4th Congressional District needs a “strong and effective conservative” person in Congress to speak and fight for what they want, Kirkmeyer said.
She said she believes she is the most qualified candidate in the primary race, because of her history of helping run a county with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars without incurring debt.
That is the kind of “fiscal sanity I want to take to Washington, D.C.,” Kirkmeyer said.
She said she believes she has a good shot at winning the primary to become the Republican candidate for the district.
“(People) know me and trust me,” Kirkmeyer said.
She has more than 45 elected officials endorsing her, including many county commissioners who have known her over the years, as well as police chiefs, fire chiefs and mayors.