Elizabeth Board of Trustees candidates share their views

Six are angling for five open seats; recall decisions for two posts also on ballot

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 3/23/20

The April 7 Elizabeth municipal election will include a recall question for Mayor Megan Vasquez and board of trustees member Tammy Payne. Jason Weiss is running against Vasquez and Barb McGinn is …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Username
Password
Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution of $25 or more in Nov. 2018-2019, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access Includes access to all websites


Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Elizabeth Board of Trustees candidates share their views

Six are angling for five open seats; recall decisions for two posts also on ballot

Posted

The April 7 Elizabeth municipal election will include a recall question for Mayor Megan Vasquez and board of trustees member Tammy Payne. Jason Weiss is running against Vasquez and Barb McGinn is running against Payne. The ballot will include a question asking whether Payne and Vasquez should be recalled. If a voter answers yes, they will have the option to vote for the opposing candidate.

Six candidates — Bret Wade, Greg Tisdale, Linda Secrist, Ron Weaver, Loren Einspahr and Angela Ternus — will be competing for five open seats. All votes need to be received by 7 p.m. April 7.

We reached out to candidates and asked them to tell us a little about themselves and why they are running for office, or campaigning to stay in office. As of press time, eight candidates had responded.

Tammy Payne — current board member

Occupation

Business manager and vice president, William E. Payne & Associates, Inc., Consulting Engineers

Contact information

Email: tammy@wepayne.com; phone: 303-790-9019 office, 303-646-0967 home

Why are you seeking this office?

Following appointment by the board to fill a vacancy in the fall of 2017, I was elected to a four-year term in April 2018 and want to fulfill my commitment to the residents who placed their confidence in me at that time. I have great respect for the office of trustee, not only for the reliance by citizens to participate in town governance that best serves diverse community interests, but also for the importance of active participation in myriad events and building of relationships that make up the fabric of our community. Giving back to the community that I and my husband love is very important to me, as well as the opportunity to interact with community members and listen to their goals and concerns. The town exists to support the greater good of its citizenry, and I have been proud to be a part of that purpose.

What makes you the best person for the job?

Experience, and a longstanding devotion to this wonderful community. I moved here in 1990 when the roads were dirt and volunteer energy was stretched thin. At that time, everyone in town had taken a turn at governance and community support in various selfless ways, and it became my turn. Serving on many committees and as former director of the Chamber of Commerce and former trustee and mayor pro tem of the town, I found those experiences to be classrooms from which I learned so much and built long-lasting friendships. From a professional standpoint, I hold bachelor of science degrees both in business administration and accounting from the University of Colorado and have managed successful businesses for others throughout my career. I currently manage my husband's aviation consulting practice.

How should growth in the town be managed in the coming years?

Very carefully. We currently have residential projects that were approved long ago and are, years later, now under construction. This is bringing new residents to the area as well as providing opportunity for people working here to own a home, such as our teachers and first responders commuting from other counties. More variety is needed for residential opportunities affordable to young families as well as seniors who have lived here for decades. At the same time, commercial development is needed to support the community's need for professional offices, day care, senior activities, medical services, recreation and access to transportation.

Of paramount importance is the need to carefully plan for the inevitable growth projected by Colorado's demographers that push Denver's metro through Douglas County to our doorstep, while at the same time preserving respect for Elizabeth's historic Colorado significance and the rural heritage of Elbert County. It is a daunting task requiring deep thought and careful long-range planning, and unfortunately cannot be achieved by trying to close the door behind those of us lucky enough to live here already, nor attempting to simply stop the clock from ticking. The Town of Elizabeth was founded in an atmosphere of economic vitality, and that spirit will sustain its future with carefully managed growth. It is important to realize that growth, if properly managed, will continue to ensure the economic vitality of our town. If a town, like any organism, does not grow, it will die, but explosive growth is dangerous and, like a cancer, will eventually kill the host.

What would be your biggest priority if reelected?

Preservation of our town's heritage while at the same time fostering elements to ensure its economic vitality is absolutely essential, in my mind. Since I've lived here, I have seen neighboring towns like Parker and Castle Rock swallowed up by the growth Colorado has absorbed so as to no longer be recognizable as the historic towns they once were. Elizabeth is being proactive through its comprehensive plan and dedicated volunteer advisory boards to preserving its unique historic character and a community of specialty businesses and community events that maintain the atmosphere of small-town living. Our downtown merchants and businesses depend upon the vibrance of community support as well as outside visitors in order to prosper, and the opportunity for residents to work locally needs to grow. I want to do my part in establishing historic districts that honor what makes Elizabeth special, and to work toward building a community that meets the needs of all of its citizens with resources supporting their health, safety and robust local commerce.

What else should voters know about you?

I was born in Washington, D.C., raised by parents from rural western Pennsylvania who made sure my summers were spent feeding chickens, gathering eggs to be washed and sold, and cleaning milking machines on my grandparents' dairy farm so as never to become a “city slicker.” I fell in love with Colorado on my very first visit as a teenager and knew somehow one day I would make it my home. Those who know me also know how much I love this town. My son grew up here, attending Elizabeth schools from elementary through high school graduation. My husband and I commuted to our Denver office for many years until we were able to downsize his consulting practice that we can now operate from a home office. Through the years, we have been renovating “This Old House” to preserve its place in the town's history, and own 90 acres facing Pikes Peak south of Elbert. I treasure everything about living in Elbert County and understand not only the challenges of preserving the precious elements of a small town, but the challenges of agricultural pursuits including water conservation that face our county every day.

Angela Ternus — mayor pro tem

Occupation

Bookkeeper

Contact information

aternus@townofelizabeth.org

Why are you seeking this office?

I am seeking reelection to the office of trustee for the Town of Elizabeth because I believe the future of Elizabeth is at a crossroads. I want the town to remain a vibrant, thriving community, while the opposition wants to freeze Elizabeth in time; somehow keeping it the way it was, long before any of them even lived here.

What makes you the best person for the job?

I have experience in serving the citizens of our town and take the job seriously. I served for about four years on the planning commission and have been on the board of trustees for more than four years. I am very detail-oriented and read every word in our board packets. If there is something that doesn't make sense to me, I ask for clarification/explanation. I research things that come before us in our meetings and arrive at my own conclusions, instead of taking direction from those who don't live in our community. It has become clear that there are people who wish to destroy Elizabeth for their own motives, rather than have it succeed. I also have a bachelor's degree in accounting and therefore understand the financial side of running the town and what the audit report says/or doesn't say about the town's finances.

How should growth in the town be managed in the coming years?

There is not a simple answer to growth, because everyone has a different idea of what growth should look like; where it should be, how much is enough or too much. I believe growth needs to be managed smartly in the coming years and not stopped altogether. Each project that comes before the Board needs to be evaluated on its own merits. The town will exist long after each of us no longer lives here. Until the homes in the Gold Creek Valley development started being built, there had been no new housing developments of any kind for more than 15 years. That has limited the town's economic growth potential and job opportunities for those who would like to live and work in Elizabeth or Elbert County. Limiting our economic growth also limits the kinds of services that the town can provide for its citizens. Growth in our area has always been cyclical, based on many outside factors. Even the economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus could affect growth here. We face an uncertain future and need to make wise decisions as we move forward.

What would be your biggest priority if reelected?

My biggest priority would be to get the Elizabeth community unified and acting like a community once again, instead of continuing the ugliness and divisiveness that has taken over our town and the surrounding area. We need to come together to keep our community strong and moving towards its full potential.

What else should voters know about you?

I love our town. My husband and I have raised a family here. I have been a resident in the Town of Elizabeth for almost 24 years. I am the third generation of my family actually born in Colorado. On my mother's side, our history goes back 142 years in Colorado's cattle ranching industry. I understand the concerns about water and growth. But, at the same time, I am not afraid to push back against those whom I feel are seeking to undermine the future of our town. I am a strong fiscal conservative and an active member of my church. I have shown myself to be a strong supporter of our schools, fire and police departments. I have a reputation for “showing up” and “helping out” whenever possible. I have proven that I lead by example in my support of community organizations, events and local businesses.

Megan Vasquez — mayor

Occupation

Part owner of The Means Agency, located in downtown Elizabeth

Contact information

meganvasquez2020@gmail.com; 303-646-9701 office

Why are you seeking this office?

I am asking the citizens of Elizabeth to vote NO on the recall and to continue my role as mayor because I genuinely love serving the Town of Elizabeth and want nothing more than to help shape the future of Elizabeth. As the mayor I want to be able to help maintain the character of the town and help bring services and amenities to the community. I want to continue to bring the community together and not see the division that has taken place. I also want to be a voice for the future generation that will call Elizabeth home.

What makes you the best person for the job?

I have served my community since 2016 when I was elected as a trustee. I have grown up in this community and called it home since 2002. I know what it is like growing up here, I know the culture, I know the people, and I know what is needed to serve our citizens. I wanted to serve my community, not because of a hidden agenda, but because I call this my home. My goal while in office has always been public outreach and building relationships with our citizens and our agencies within the county. Bringing people together through community events and building the culture that makes Elizabeth, Elizabeth!

How should growth in the town be managed in the coming years?

Elizabeth is experience growing pains. Growth is inevitable; however, managing and proper planning can lead to a balance of keeping Elizabeth's character, while providing services that are needed. I do not believe in rapid growth, I believe in reasonable planned growth. Our town needs facilities like a rec center, senior center, community center, medical offices and day care. We need to be able to support our first responders and schools.

What would be your biggest priority if reelected?

My biggest priority would be to help rebuild a community that has become so divided. I would also continue with public outreach and citizen engagement. I want to make sure that the citizens' voices are heard.

What I loved about growing up here is the mutual respect neighbors had for one another, neighbors caring and helping one another. Between the recall and our current crisis, we no longer are what makes us Elizabeth.

What else should voters know about you?

I care about our community and I will continue to serve my community. I encourage everyone to stop believing everything they read on social media about me or about my board and the town. Please go to a meeting, call or email for the facts, or walk down to town hall for face-to-face conversation. We may not always agree; however, I believe in respecting one another and others' opinions. I encourage everyone to remember we are all human, we all are trying to make difference in this world, and we all should respect one another.

Ron Weaver — current trustee

Occupation

Truss designer

Contact information

720-340-9954

Why are you seeking this office?

I am the incumbent for the Elizabeth Board of Trustees. I chose to run for the position after seeing what the current leaders were doing to our town. They stated on paper they wanted input from townspeople in their comprehensive plan, however their actions and lectures spoke loudly and clearly that they don't care about our rural community and our opinions. I strongly support local and small businesses in this community. I support growth that will keep the rural values this town was built on.

What makes you the best person for the job?

I strongly support small businesses in this community. They are important for all of us. I will listen to the concerns of our community and listen to the owners of small businesses. As a candidate seeking reelection, I will continue to listen to the concerns of the community, and with the support of these other candidates we will be able to start making a difference.

How should growth in the town be managed in coming years?

I support a 5% growth plan, which is an adequate and not unreasonable target for annual growth.

What would be your biggest priority be if reelected?

I will continue to listen to community members, their concerns about growth and fight for “Welcome to Elizabeth, a rural Surprise.”

What else should voters know about you?

I was born in a small farming community in Malta, Illinois. I was raised with simple common-sense morals and values. I have been married for 23 years to my wife, Michelle, and we have one son together. We moved to Elizabeth in 2006.

Jason Weiss — current board member running to replace Mayor Megan Vasquez

Occupation

I am a defensive combative instructor with expert ratings in combat pistol, combat rifle and combat shotgun. I am a certified Krav Maga instructor, and I also work as a consultant and stunt coordinator for the motion picture industry.

Contact information

Email: jweiss@townofelizabeth.org

Why are you seeking this office?

I am running against Megan Vasquez to offer Elizabeth real leadership and to give the disenfranchised their voices back. I ran for trustee (and won) because I felt ignored and later betrayed. Many of my neighbors have expressed those same feelings and I feel it is my duty to correct the problem.

What makes you the best person for the job?

My leadership skills set me apart, I am great at determining when a situation requires a velvet glove or demands an iron fist.

How should growth in the town be managed in the coming years?

In a word? Responsibly. Thoughtful consideration to all variables must be paid regardless of who is in office. Managed growth with an emphasis on balance, capacities, and infrastructure is paramount. Essentially we can't allow any more growth then we can handle, which to me is just common sense.

What would be your biggest priority if elected?

Currently, my priority is to make sure our residents have what they need to pay their bills, feed their kids, and remain healthy in these trying times. Everything else takes a backseat. Getting my people back to normalcy is the only thing on my mind right now. Everything else can wait and will, when I'm elected.

What else should voters know about you?

When I ran in December I said I cannot be intimidated or bullied. Since then, people have tried and failed. I think it bears repeating that those who look to stand in my way while I continue to speak and fight for those that have all but given up on the democratic process in our town will find that I will not tolerate tactics that discount our average citizen. They have tried before and they will try again. The result will be the same: failure.

Barb McGinn — candidate running to replace Trustee Tammy Payne

Why are you seeking this office?

I have chosen to run for trustee because I truly love this community and hate to see it overrun by rapid development. I have a desire to serve in hopes of deterring some of the recent proposals for rampant growth in the town and addressing the concerns of our senior citizens, young persons and lower-income residents. I feel I have a responsibility to do my part to preserve the rural atmosphere and lifestyle that I and many town residents cherish about our community. Many folks feel they have not been listened to by the current board members regarding development, recreational venues and cost of living issues in our community. If elected, I promise to listen to the opinions and desires of ALL residents, whether I agree with their position or not, and use this information to make recommendations and decisions that benefit all residents while preserving our rural environment and historical community.

What makes you the best person for the job?

I have been a registered nurse for 44 years, a profession which requires me to exercise empathy, compassion and understanding, as well as listen to the needs and concerns of my patients on a daily basis. In that time, I have served in a variety of positions within my profession including hospital care, home care, skilled nursing, intensive care and emergency care. I have held an executive leader position with a major hospital/health care system in Colorado. Additionally, I have served on the State Board of Home Health Care and am currently employed with UC Health monitoring skilled nursing facilities patient aftercare. I am currently a planning commissioner in the Town of Elizabeth. I listen to folks. I value feedback and will always weigh all options and views prior to making decisions, even if the third choice is in fact the best decision. I truly love the Elizabeth community and value its citizens. I will do my very best to make the right decisions for them while upholding the laws of the Town of Elizabeth and the State of Colorado.

How should growth be managed in the coming years?

I feel growth in the town needs to be very well managed and controlled as much as possible to preserve our history and traditionally rural community. I feel the recently approved comprehensive plan leans more toward rapid, overly expansive growth and should be reevaluated with more attention paid to the desires of the overall community rather than the interest of major developers. While growth is in fact good for the community and is inevitable, it should accommodate the modern needs and conveniences desired by the residents while reflecting the history and culture of the community. Some of the steps I would consider recommending in order to achieve this is to restrict future development to no more than two homes per acre, restricting certain areas of development to three- to five-acre tracts, much like what already exists throughout the majority of Elbert County and particularly the recently annexed portion of the Highway 86 corridor. I would reconsider the ordinance restricting horses, chickens and other livestock in town.

Additionally, I feel consideration should be given to equestrian-friendly developments in current and future annexed development areas rather than huge developments of 400 to 1,500 homes. These equestrian communities could include a centralized barn and riding arena for residents, three- to five-acre homesites with shared equestrian/biking/walking trails similar to Cherry Creek, Bayou Gulch and Hidden Mesa Open Space throughout the community. I would support a moratorium on new construction for a period of one to two years until public hearings could be held, possibly a vote on the issues be made by the residents, their opinions and desires considered and a reasonable and amicable solution be debated and voted upon by myself and the other BOT members.

What would be your biggest priority if elected?

My first priority, if elected, would be to enact legislation in the form of moratoriums and/or ordinances to properly manage residential and commercial growth in town, while caring for the current and future needs and desires of town residents. Secondly, I would work with other members of the board and community to improve the availability of care and recreational activities for our senior citizens such as the expansion or redevelopment of the senior center. I would also work to increase the availability of recreational and social activities for our young people. These could possibly include development of a youth activity center, inviting recreational type businesses into town such as skating rinks, bowling alleys, movie theatees and miniature golf, for instance. I would listen to the residents of the community and work to meet their needs and desires to the best of my ability, all the while working to preserve the heritage of our very unique town.

Linda Secrist — candidate for board of trustees

Occupation

32-year owner of cleaning service until retirement; now data entry

Contact information

lostforest94@msn.com

Why are you seeking this office?

The reason I am seeking office is because after living in Elbert County for 20 years I have noticed a change in our way of life. I have lived in Colorado my whole life and have moved from town to town trying to get away from rapid growth and crime. I don't feel our officials have the best interest of the community in mind when they make decisions. They have ignored surveys posted on their own website and gone forward with their plans. It's time for the residents to make a stand and do what they can to save our rural way of life.

What makes you the best person for the job?

I think that when you are in office you should do your best to communicate with your community, not just the bare minimum. I would research everything that comes before the board to make sure it's the best thing for the town and not just take the advice of someone who does not live here and who apparently does not know how important our way of life is.

How should growth in the town be managed in the coming years?

Growth will always be a tough subject, it has to be managed carefully there are way to many loopholes for the developers to take advantage of a small town. We need a growth initiative to control the speed of growth so the infrastructure can handle what is coming. We have learned from many sources that there are ways we can accomplish this. I will do my very best to listen to those who have learned the hard way the ramifications of going with the flow.

What else should voters know about you?

That I love this town and the people in it, and I will do my best to hear them and fight my hardest to preserve what we have all worked so hard for. Community is in the heart, not your pocketbook. I truly believe rural is not convenient but it's so worth the trouble.

Loren Einspahr — current board of trustees member

Occupation

Black Hills Energy service technician

Contact information

Email: leinspahr@townofelizabeth.org

Why are you seeking this office?

I am interested in serving the community and keeping our town with the small-town feel that brought us to live here.

What makes you the best person for the job?

I understand the need for keeping growth controlled and believe in representing town residents and their needs and desires.

How should growth in the town be managed in the coming years?

Our growth must be controlled in a manner that allows Elizabeth to thrive, not a rapid growth where services and people cannot sustain.

What would your biggest priority be if re-elected?

Listening to town residents and being a quiet, thoughtful voice on the board.

What else should voters know about you?

I've come to love this community and the people I've met that live here. My desire is simply to serve and keep Elizabeth safe, prospering with a rural hometown feel.

Comments

Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.