Editor’s note: Democrat Casey Tighe is challenging incumbent County Commissioner John Odom, a Republican. An upcoming issue will include a story focusing on Odom.
By Vicky Gits
County commission candidate Casey Tighe, a former CDOT auditor, told Lookout Mountain residents last Wednesday night that they might not be happy with all his decisions, but he would do a better job of listening to the community than the incumbent commissioner.
In a question-and-answer session in front of about 50 people at the Crystal Rose events center, Tighe deplored the disbandment of Jeffco’s Citizens Audit Committee; deemed the Beltway Economic Enhancement Project Act a "piece of bad legislation"; and said "it was frustrating" to see the commissioners frequently overrule the paid planning staff.
Tighe, a Democrat, said that if elected to the commission, he would give up his current role managing his wife's law office in Aurora and work for the county full time.
He has four years of experience as an unpaid member of the Jeffeco Citizens Audit Committee, which was disbanded at the behest of the county commissioners in May 2011. Tighe was chairman of the committee.
At the time it was abandoned, Commissioner Faye Griffin said the committee was duplicating other internal efforts and also overstepped its bounds in auditing records from the human services department, including child-adoption documents.
Commissioner Don Rosier told the Columbine Courier recently that the audit committee needed to be dissolved and reconstituted under an official charter or governing document, which had never been done. Since then the charter has been written and an advertisement was circulated seeking members, but only one person applied.
Some Lookout Mountain residents are embroiled in a lawsuit with the county commissioners over their 2-1 decision to allow Activation Ministries International to expand its church on Lookout Mountain Road. A citizens group, Lookout Mountain Residents United, was formed to fight the rezoning in court; the lawsuit is in progress.
When asked if he would have voted against the expansion if he were a commissioner, Tighe refused to be pinned down. But he said the needs of development have to be balanced against a long-range vision and comprehensive plan.
"I agree we need to have a good economy, but we have a planning process. Sometimes you have to deviate. But if you change the plan constantly, you lose some of the neighborhood fabric. It's got to be balanced," he said.
A resident of Jefferson County for 30 years, Tighe is running in District 2 against Republican John Odom, who was appointed to the commission when Kevin McCasky resigned to join the Jefferson Economic Council.
District 2 consists of ahorizontal strip north and south of I-70 including Lakewood, Golden, Lookout Mountain and Genesee, and South Table Mountain. All county residents cast votes in all commission races, though the three commissioners each represent distinct geographic areas.
Tighe lives in the Applewood area with his wife, Laura, who is a partner in a law firm. They have two sons.
Tighe attended Green Mountain High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. After graduating from Creighton Law School, Tighe worked as an attorney for a few years in the '80s. He retired in May after working for CDOT for 24 years.
Tighe said that CDOT was focused on teamwork, something the county commissioners lack.
"I made sure we were spending money and the staff had the tools they needed. When they took down avalanches, I felt I was a part of it," Tighe said. "The county commissioners don't want to see the citizens as part of the team. I want to create a community with both employees and the citizens."
"I was involved with the audit committee for four years,” he said. “The commissioners didn't really talk to us. They didn't talk about what was working and what wasn't working. They communicated they really don't want your involvement. We are going to change that. We are going to have more communication and interaction.”
Several people in the audience complained about the commissioners voting against the recommendations of the county’s planning staff and the planning commission on development decisions.
"Why do you even need a planning commission?" one participant asked. "It means nothing."
Commissioners don't do a very good job of explaining themselves, Tighe said. "The key is you have to be able to articulate why you are deviating from staff recommendations. Citizens know when you are listening to them. If I'm elected, you aren't going to agree with everything I do. But you will say that I paid attention and I listened.”
If elected, Tighe will almost certainly face the continuing pressure to build a beltway connecting C-470 in Golden to the Northwest Parkway. As a former CDOT exec, he understands the dilemma.
"Engineers like to see that complete circle.”
But he thinks the BEEP legislation was misguided. "It would give the highway authority superpowers of eminent domain. They could decide the alignment and take control from the cities. For local officials to advocate taking away control of local decision-making, I don't know how they came up with that."
Other problems are the proposed road doesn't connect on the north or the south ends. "They have to come up with a plan that's more complete," Tighe said.
When asked what makes him different from his opponent, Tighe said: “I bring a good background in government. I worked as an attorney. I have lived in the county a long time. I'll be very open; I'll communicate more, listen to what they have to say and get back to people."
For more on Casey Tighe, visit www.TigheForJeffco.org.
Contact Vicky Gits at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.