Candidacy: District 3 Montrose County Commissioner, Democrat
Education: B.A. Degree, California State Polytechnic University; D.V.M., University of California, Davis
Occupation: Large Animal Veterinarian
Family: Married; two children; lives in Montrose County
Prior Government Experience: Montrose-Olathe School District, board member 2005-2009 and president 2009-present
Montrose County Commissioner District 3 candidate Kjersten Davis grew up with a conservative father who was a businessman and a Democrat mother who was a psychologist. So, naturally, she registered as an unaffiliated voter, she said.
“But if you are unaffiliated in the state of Colorado, you can’t participate in politics [as far as caucuses] … and I wanted to participate,” Davis said.
She was frustrated with the direction in which Montrose County was going – decisions being made that were fiscally irresponsible, and money being spent that wasn’t to the optimal benefit of the taxpayers.
When she decided to get involved, she had been reading about the debates between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. She agreed with Jefferson’s convictions regarding state control over federal control, and that elected officials should represent every single person – and so, she registered as a Democrat.
But Davis doesn’t believe the Nov. 6 election for Montrose county commissioners should be a partisan race. The federal government has drawn partisan lines in the sand; the factions have not worked together, and this has led the country into a dysfunction gridlock, she said.
She doesn’t want the county to follow those examples.
“The county has been acting too frequently in contentious oppositional matters,” she said.
She’s frustrated with the commissioners’ inability to compromise, and by their wasted taxpayer dollars, spent on court cases and on unnecessary legal fees.
“I think the process by which Montrose County filed water rights, in my opinion, was poorly planned, poorly thought out, too grandiose and impossible to fund,” she said. “It disregarded property rights and the impact on public lands, and there has been so many opposers who’ve filed against them that it’s resulted in large legal fees.”
If elected, Davis said that she would make sure the county’s appeal against Montrose Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, if it’s still pending, is dropped. As the courts have already ruled in the hospital’s favor, dropping the appeal would be a financial benefit to the county, and she would see that the two boards worked together in a responsible manner.
Next, she would see that there was a thorough audit of the county’s budget.
“It is tough times, and it will be tougher at the county level, so we need to make sure the cuts we made are the best we can make for the county,” Davis said.
As a commissioner, Davis said she would focus on economic development.
“The nation is still in a very slow recovery, but the county is lagging behind the nation and the region,” she said. “Just looking at unemployment. We have the eighth-highest rate in the state. We need to shift our focus to what we can stimulate, and develop the local economy.”
That shift, she said, would be from attracting large industries, to attracting more retirees and telecommuters.
Montrose County isn’t a natural fit for large industries because it doesn’t have adequate transportation, such as interstates and railways, she said.
Attracting telecommuters – people who can work anywhere, but choose to live in Montrose – will take work, including improving the area’s broadband capabilities. She also sees the growth of Colorado Mesa University as a part of that equation.
Davis will finish her seventh year on the Montrose County School board in November, and it is that experience, along with owning her own large animal veterinarian practice, that she believes makes her a strong candidate.
She said that when people, even those who have diverse political opinions, come to the table with a common goal, those political divisions no longer matter. As a school board member, she has seen this happen, leading to successfully accomplishing goals and making hard decisions, including cutting the school district’s budget by $8 million over the past few years.
“I’ve been trained and have practice in making decisions,” Davis said. “I get the information, assess the situation and find the best solution.”
And she says she understands the role of being a public official.
“You must listen to your constituents – I’m not elected to inflict my opinions – and must respond and act accordingly,” she said. “I’ll be fiscally responsible and make sure every dollar we spend is getting the maximum benefit.”