Q&A with Lora Thomas, candidate for Douglas County commissioner, District 3

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Party: Republican

Residence: Highlands Ranch

Campaign website: LoraThomas.org

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I am the better choice for commissioner because of my proven leadership and trusted experience. I have delivered more funding for roads without increasing taxes, provided a mill levy credit on 2019 property taxes, allocated $13 million for school safety and mental health services, obtained 13 variances to the COVID shutdown — opening DougCo sooner than most others, created a new DougCo-anchored judicial district that starts in 2025, and resolved a long-standing logjam with the feds that allows more drinking water to be stored in Chatfield. My record clearly establishes that I don't need any on the job training.

If you're elected, what single issue will be at the top of your agenda?

While addressing county needs re COVID will likely continue after my reelection, many of our nimble and innovative businesses have continued to thrive — sales tax revenue for the county from January through June is actually up 7.9% this year over last. So aside from the continuing COVID situation, the focus of my second term will be working with residents and businesses to plan for central water and wastewater for the northwest corner of Douglas County. My work with Chatfield Watershed Authority and Denver Water since 2017 has made it clear opportunities for improved water quality and service delivery are needed.

If you're elected, what must you accomplish in order for you to consider your term a success?

I have worked to set Douglas County on a course to realize it's coming-of-age as one of Colorado's premier counties. I have focused on three closely intertwined projects: 1) a new judicial district that begins in January, 2025; 2) a new governance model for Douglas County's public health department; and 3) improved infrastructure for transportation and water. After more than half a century, it's time Douglas County's services, planning and infrastructure rise to meet the needs of its 370,000 residents. The realization of this course of action to fruition is what I most seek to achieve in my second term.

What do you see as the most important role of a county commissioner?

A county commissioner works in partnership with fellow commissioners, and county staff, and other elected officials to meet the general needs of those who live and work in Douglas County. As commissioner, I oversee the budget of nearly half a billion dollars, the activities of 1,300 employees and the needs of 370,000 residents. In January 2017, my fellow commissioners and I established six key priorities: public safety, transportation, health and human services, county services, economic foundations and historic and natural resources. The most important role of a county commissioner is to balance each of the competing needs appropriately.

What new challenges brought about by COVID-19 do you see affecting the county in the coming years and how will you help address them?

Per citizen feedback, I have real concerns for our children and grandchildren. What have they learned from our actions over the last six months? They have missed much from their normal lives — school/learning, time with friends, proms, graduations, parties, sports, travel and more. Most still are not back to full-time school. What long-term and short-term depression, anxiety and other mental health issues have resulted? After the May 2019 STEM shooting, we implemented per my recommendation a Community Response Team dedicated entirely to mental health needs of school children. Do we need another team, or different intervention programs/strategies?

What do you believe Douglas County's health services should look like in the future?

Douglas County deserves quality public health services tailored to resident needs, and these are best determined by governance comprised of Douglas County residents. While the half-century-old model shared by three different counties may have once proven useful for a small county, new governance is now necessary to serve the large county we have become. While we are discussing an option that creates a governance board each for Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties while contracting services from Tri-County Health, if necessary, Douglas County stands ready to join the 70% of other counties in Colorado with their own unique public health department.

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