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Q&A with commission hopeful Casey Tighe

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By Vicky Gits

Casey Tighe

Casey Tighe, 53, is a lawyer with 24 years of experience as an auditor with the Colorado Department of Transportation. He was CDOT audit director from 1999 to 2012 and retired from CDOT last year. He volunteered to be on the first Jefferson County audit committee when it was inaugurated in 2006 and served as chairman until it was discontinued in June 2011 after county commissioners said it was a duplication of effort. Its main role was to work with independent accountants that audited the county’s finances and its federally funded programs. In January, commissioners proposed that the audit committee be reinstituted under a new charter, with a different membership configuration.

Tighe, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent John Odom, who was appointed in District 2 after Kevin McCasky stepped down to become president of the Jeffco Economic Development Council. (Commissioners are chosen from geographic districts for diversity but are subject to a vote by citizens of all three districts.) Tighe is running on a platform of “accounting for taxpayer money and spending it wisely,” according to his campaign information.

Current residence, length of residence: Applewood, about 23 years

Years of residence in Jefferson County: About 30 years

College: University of Colorado at Boulder

Graduate degrees: Juris doctorate, Creighton University School of Law

Birthplace: Sidney, Neb.

Date of birth: Dec. 23, 1959

Profession/trade/current job: Office manager, law firm of Bayer and Carey PC

Past work experience: Auditor for CDOT, 1988-2012 (audit director, 1999-2012); private law practice, 1985-88

Married:Laura

Children: Two boys, 20 and 18

Did children attend Jeffco schools: They attended Our Lady of Fatima, Manning, Foothills Academy and Regis Jesuit High School

Favorite hobbies, pastimes, sports: Running, golf and watching my son's lacrosse team

Favorite charity: I am on the board of directors for Uplift Internationale, a Wheat Ridge-based charity that provides cleft-palate surgery for underprivileged children in the Philippines.

Favorite coffee, tea or sport drink:

Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi is good on a hot day.

Who is your political role model?

Gov. John Hickenlooper: It is amazing how our governor has been able to get past much of the partisan divide.

Who is your favorite political figure? Harry Truman. I very much admire his integrity and straightforward approach to governing.

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Political Party Affiliation: Describe your previous experience in elected office, political party leadership positions, campaign activities.

I have never run for elected office. I have been a Democrat since I first registered to vote in 1980. I have volunteered on a number of campaigns.

Community involvement:Nonprofits, HOA boards, county boards and commissions:

I have been on the board of directors of Uplift Internationale for the last two years. When my boys were younger, I coached basketball at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, and I read to children at the Mount St. Vincent Home.

Time commitment: If elected, how much time do you expect to devote to county responsibilities and how much to other work responsibilities?

County commissioner is a full-time position. I will leave my current position at Bayer and Carey and devote my attention and work full-time for Jeffco.

VALUES

What is your main reason for wanting to be a county commissioner?

County government has a direct impact on our lives, with decisions impacting land use, transportation and safety. Citizen participation should be encouraged, not discouraged. I welcome citizen involvement. 

What personal qualities, job or educational experience do you bring to the job that would benefit your role as a county commissioner?

For the last 24 years, I worked at making government more efficient and responsive. I can bring people together to improve how government works. 

What one element of county government do you feel needs to be improved, why, and what will you do about it? 

Human resources. The county has had trouble with employee retention, and it is my understanding that severance packages were paid because of poorly handled personnel matters.

Name something that distinguishes you from your opponent and makes you a better choice for the job.

I bring extensive experience working with state and local governments and large and small businesses. I will listen to various viewpoints and work to find solutions.

Describe your political philosophy (i.e., why you belong to your chosen political party).

Citizen participation is a foundation of good government. The challenge is taking input from various groups and then finding and implementing balanced solutions.  

ISSUES

Business climate: What needs to be done to improve the business climate and increase job creation in Jefferson County?

We need to remember what makes Jeffco great, and promote our amazing quality of life. Government processes should be efficient and business-friendly. We should be patient and smart about development, and emphasize long-range planning. We should not compromise the scenic beauty for development that brings only short-term benefits.

Apartment buildings: Should there be stricter limits on high-density multifamily apartment buildings on vacant land near existing residential neighborhoods (i.e., Ken Caryl Towne Center development which allowed 380 living units on 14 acres)?

The issue relates to the value of long-term planning. In the Ken Caryl development, another zoning change was granted for this property only two years earlier. People make investments and living decisions based upon the county's plan. Diverse housing options, including high-density options, are necessary, but they should be planned.

Impact fees: Do you favor reducing park fees or traffic impact fees in favor of making development more affordable for developers? It has been proposed that fees should be reduced (Quincy Lake development case).

Any fee reduction should be contingent on meeting some specific predetermined criteria. The criteria should include things like: having a good mix of commercial and residential development, and meeting water and other resource conservation goals, etc.  

Church expansion: Should the church on Lookout Mountain have been allowed to grow from 9,000 to 30,000 square feet on 10 acres surrounded by residential lots (Activation Ministries Inc.)?

The county staff did not recommend approval of this expansion. I believe the fire district also raised concerns that emergency response time could be negatively impacted by traffic patterns around the church. Ensuring safety and protecting the character of neighborhoods in the county will be my priority as county commissioner.

Audit committee: Do you favor re-establishing an audit committee composed of volunteers as structured by the charter proposed by the current BCC, and if so why is it needed, and if not, why not? What should be the role of the audit committee?

Yes. For an audit committee to be effective, there needs to be strong commitment from the county commissioners. A commitment that the committee will be given the authority to ensure operational improvements occur and that audit findings are corrected.

Libraries: Are you in favor of increasing the mill levy for public libraries in the upcoming budget year, or should the library make more cutbacks, close libraries or shorten hours?

The libraries received a mill-levy increase several years ago, but it is my understanding that a portion of that increase is being used for other purposes. I favor restoring the full library funding, but not an increase in the mill levy.

Jefferson Parkway: Are you in favor of building the parkway from Golden to the Northwest Parkway? Do you believe the BEEP legislation is a good way to get the parkway project built?

Transportation improvements on the northwest side of the county need to be addressed very soon. However, creating a new panel to trump local decisions is not the answer. Leadership involves bringing people together to find solutions. Land-use decisions should be made at the local level.