Q&A with state Senate candidate Ken Summers

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By Vicky Gits

Ken Summers, Republican from Primrose West

Like his opponent, Andy Kerr, Ken Summers is an incumbent state representative in his third term and is running for the state Senate in District 22. The district this year became an open seat after the current senator, Tim Neville, was excluded because of the way the district was redrawn. Summers, a Republican, is currently state representative from House District 22. He is running on a jobs and small-business platform.

A Colorado native, Summers was raised in south metro Denver and has lived in Jefferson County for 25 years. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a teaching degree in 1976. An ordained minister, Summers became an associate pastor at Lakewood First Assembly of God in 1978. He has spent 28 years in the ministry, serving churches in Lakewood, Strasburg and Colby, Kan. Since 2006 he has been executive director of Teen Challenge of the Rocky Mountains.

Current residence, length of residence: Primrose West, 18 years

Years of residence in Jefferson County: 25 years

High school: Englewood High School

College:University of Northern Colorado, BA in business education

Graduate degrees:  Regis University, nonprofit management

Birthplace: Denver

Date of birth: Nov 12, 1953

Profession/trade/current job:Executive director, Teen Challenge of the Rocky Mountains

Past work experience:High school business teacher/coach, Englewood High School (1976-1978); Able Sign Company, sales (1975-1978); associate pastor, Lakewood First Assembly (1978-1982);  senior pastor, High Plains Christian Center, Strasburg, 1982-1989; senior pastor, College Drive Assembly, Colby, Kan., 1989-1992; senior pastor, Dakota Ridge Assembly, Lakewood, 1991-2006; executive director, Teen Challenge of the Rocky Mountains, 2006 to present

Married: Debbie

Children: Son, 34, and daughter, 32

Did children attend Jeffco schools?Stein Elementary, Carmody Middle School and Silver State

Favorite hobbies, pastimes, sports:running, YMCA workouts, softball

Favorite charity:Besides my own, Second Wind Fund, Sanger Foundation, Denver Street School

Favorite coffee, tea or sport drink:Caramel coffee

Political role model: Ronald Regan

Favorite political figure:Abraham Lincoln

Political party affiliation: Describe your previous experience in elected office, political party leadership positions, campaign activities, dates of?

• Board member, Metro Parks and Recreation Special District, Strasburg, 1985-1986

• Board member, School District 31J, 1986-1989

• Precinct committee chair, 2000-2006

• County, state, congressional assembly delegate, 2000-2006

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

• Member, South Jeffco Rotary, 1992-present

• President, South Jeffco Rotary Club, 1996-1997

• Board member, Teen Challenge of the Rocky Mountains, 2004-2006

• Advisory board, Second Wind Fund

Time commitment: If elected, how much time do you expect to devote to state responsibilities and how much to other work responsibilities. More than anticipated, as much as is needed.



What is your main reason for wanting to be a state senator?

Using my personal and professional background and building on my legislative service to focus on rebuilding our economy and promoting principled, common sense public policy.


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

I have been an organizational leader for 28 years in an environment where consensus building, compromise and patience are required for success.


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

Government needs to be more service-oriented in working with citizens. Government functions to serve the public, and this requires flexibility and striving for greater efficiencies


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

The depth and breadth of my personal, professional and life experience.


Describe your political philosophy.

My personal political philosophy resonates with core values of limited government, personal freedoms, personal responsibility, family values, strong national defense and support of Israel that are Republican values.




Should hydraulic fracking or fracturing be regulated by the state or local entities?

No. There is a need for uniformity and predictability for these processes.


What should be done about funding higher education?

We need to grow the economy, increasing tax revenue to the state and then have greater ability to prioritize investment in the areas that are most important for the state. I have advocated for the ability for communities whose local economy is key to a higher education institution to be able to raise local voter-approved tax support.


What should be done at the state level about funding K-12 education?

The key to any area for the state budget is economic growth. During the first two years of the Ref C timeout, the state had $1 billion more than economists predicted. However, it is important for us to revisit the funding formula for how education funding is calculated and evaluate the areas of state law that drive up costs and take dollars way from the classroom.


Should marijuana be legalized?

No. When we consider the problems with underage use of tobacco and alcohol, regulating marijuana like cigarettes and alcohol will have devastating consequences on our youth.


What can the state do to help create jobs?

Focus on small-business development. Stay out of the way of business growth by keeping taxes and fees low, provide regulatory predictability and consistency. We need to revitalize our energy economy. Ensuring access to higher education and technical education is a vital part of this as well.


Do you support the Affordable Health Care Act and the creation of health insurance exchanges in the state?

Health care reform is needed, but the current federal legislation will not hold down costs, which is the greatest concern of citizens. The current federal bill threatens business growth as well, with requirements for business that employ more than 50 employees. Health insurance exchanges hold some promise if they serve the needs of business and individuals in purchasing health insurance.


Should the funding formula for PERA be changed?

The stability of PERA is critical for current and future retirees. The projected rate of return is a critical ingredient in the funding formula and needs to be realistic and closely monitored. A greater emphasis is needed on providing defined contribution plans for new employees. The current level of employer contributions is placing a strain on our school system. 


Do you believe in special tuition rates statewide for students who are undocumented, raised in this country, with three years of high school?

No. The current proposals have only required a student to be in the state for three years. There is currently no path to citizenship, and it is illegal for an employer to hire a person who is not a legal citizen.


Should the state be doing more about wildfire prevention at the state level?

Coming out of one of the most costly fire seasons in Colorado history, it is important for us to continue to evaluate our systems and processes. In recent years several pieces of legislation have been enacted to address urban/forest interfaces. Before new layers of legislation is added it is important to revaluate what is currently in place and the coordination between state agencies.


What needs to be done to resolve the state’s ongoing budget crisis?

We need to revitalize our economy, broaden the tax base with growing businesses and more jobs. We need to address the burden of Medicaid on the state budget and continue to work for cost savings and efficiencies. There are changes that are needed to allow the state budget recover as the economy improves.


Should colleges and universities be able to ban guns on campus?

Yes, for those without proper permits.