GUEST COMMENTARY
Candidate Kennedy Says ‘It Is Time for a Change’
by Steve Kennedy, Candidate for District One Seat on San Miguel BOCC
Aug 04, 2012 | 2029 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print

I'm Steve Kennedy, the Republican nominee in November's election for District One's seat on the Board of County Commissioners. That's right, I'm a Republican. Those that thought they knew me well, like my relatives (Republicans all), assumed that when my tours in Vietnam ended and the Navy sent me to Denver recruiting in 1976, and especially after Ann and I sold our businesses and home and moved to Telluride in 1985, I had gone to the dark side and become a freak and maybe even a Democrat, but no. In our portion of the San Juans, there is little use for the labels we put on the throngs of harried city dwellers and the swarm of humanity crushing the planet downstream. Here, if you care enough, there are far less than five degrees of separation between you and me, you can just walk up and say "Howdy."

This is what I believe in, our common humanity, our common path. We all want the same things, peaceful enjoyment of our beautiful home with our friends and families. We are far more alike here in San Miguel County than we are different. There is a universal appreciation for the unique quality of life we enjoy as lovers and caretakers of our corner of paradise. In fact our troubles and conflicts all come from our zeal to protect what we have and a certain distrust of "authorities" to tell us how to do it.

So why am I running for Commissioner? Well, for starters, San Miguel County made me a millionaire. I always thought that my troubles would be over when I finally became a millionaire, but starting from when I bought my house on Alder Street in 1985, the county told me my property doubled in value every five years, and has taxed me accordingly. My wife and I own one bathroom on one-eighth of an acre, currently assessed by the county at just over $1,000,000. The valuation dropped in 2012 from its all-time high of $1.15 million in 2010. Here's the good news: if we lived in Jefferson County on the Front Range I'd be paying nearly $9000/year in property tax, in San Miguel County, its just over $3000. My wife's main street business (Needle Rock Fiberarts) has  a lease and thus as commercial property is taxed at three times the residential rate and is even more vulnerable to the pressure to raise taxes.

My life, my ability to stay in my home of 27 years, and our business success are now inexorably linked to the county's (and the school's, library's, fire, and hospital's) ability to stay in business while property values plummet. Despite TAR's quarterly press release saying that things are finally getting better, conservative estimates of a decade to recover from the bottom of the market (are we there yet?) seem, well, conservative.

The only way to right the ship, short of gutting the county staff and services, is to stimulate the economy, create jobs, enhance and grow existing businesses, and invest in economic infrastructure (transportation, housing, day-care). It's easy to say we just need to cut spending to live with falling revenues, but I contend that some services like public safety, emergency preparedness, and road and bridge work are currently underfunded.

Our current course of rising cost of government and falling revenues makes the bureaucracy desperate for survival, and, scrambling for every dollar, they must get every penny now. Witness the coming crackdown on short term rentals in the County. The Commissioners are considering taking your right to utilize your property and limiting or eliminating your right to rent your property. The current land use code, according to staff's interpretation, says you can't rent short term at all unless you get pay for a license and pay sales tax and incur significant legal and insurance expenses. This is even more restrictive than the Town of Telluride where I get 30 days short term by right. Does this mean that we in Town are going to be thus limited when the county enacts its restrictions?  At a time when jobs are dwindling and values are falling does it make any sense to further restrict our ability to make a living here in San Miguel County?

Recent articles from county leaders mention the difficulties and lack of success in governments' ability to directly stimulate the economy, but neglect to mention how the County can depress, restrict, and stifle economic activity. There's no consideration for the economic boost that comes from short term visitors who buy dinner, take a tour, or look at real estate.

It is time for a change in how government looks at itself and its citizens. I propose suspension of regulations that restrict economic activity until the stakeholders, taxpayers, business owners, renters, and electors have been given the opportunity to create solutions benefiting the people rather than the government.

I have been trained in diplomacy, conflict resolution, financial analysis, budgeting, and economic development. I have experience as a councilperson, business owner, non-profit leader, and community activist. You can see my resume at www.steveforsanmiguelcounty.com or contact me at uprightsteve@gmail.com. Please vote on November 6. Together we can make a difference. 

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