Q&A with Idris Keith, candidate for Arapahoe County commissioner, District 3

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Party: Democrat

Residence: Aurora

Campaign website: www.idriskeith.com

What makes you the best choice for this office?

The next commissioner must be capable of listening, have the ability to process what has been said, and have the experience and qualifications to deliver services as expected. I am competent, qualified and can build consensus. As the only candidate in the CCD3 race with private-sector experience, I will empower small businesses in the post-COVID economic recovery whom I have fought for in multimillion-dollar construction projects and other disputes involving commerce and trade. I have also worked with, and in, the public sector. My diverse experiences in each sector afford an ability to listen and actually understand the constituents' concerns.

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

Job creation and economic development top my agenda. The cost of living has continued to increase, but wages have plateaued. Due to COVID, many people are unemployed or facing periods of unpaid furlough. In spite of these challenges, current leadership voted to raise property taxes $464 million with no clear intent to create jobs or generate sustained revenue. Higher taxes and decreased wages are no recipe for commonsense leadership. The federal CARES Act monies have dwindled, and there is still no sound economic policy to create jobs. People want to work, and my priority is helping them meet that goal.

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

There is a general feeling that county government is either nonfunctioning or improperly functioning. Economic shortfalls in recent years rest squarely with current leadership, which has failed to generate revenue in a fiscally responsible manner including not properly advertising the Fairgrounds as a venue for events. COVID has only highlighted the commission's failures. Economic recovery will be my goalpost as your next commissioner. Without economic recovery, we cannot effectively tackle the challenges of traffic and transportation; including paving and/or performing snow removal on various dirt roads on the eastern plains, which have been completely ignored the last four years.

As Arapahoe County and the entire metro area continue to grow in population, how can the county ensure housing is more affordable?

The challenge is creating affordable housing without homeowners losing hard-earned equity based upon devalued properties as a result. Under simple supply and demand, we should zone for additional development to outpace the demand of housing. The inventory is currently diminishing as residents choose to stay put during the COVID pandemic. A greater inventory should moderate prices and if the inventory outpaces the rate of population growth, the cost of housing should decline. The commission must also champion comprehensive economic policies which permit residents to keep and save what they earn and oppose reckless tax hikes which suffocate economic growth.

How can the county do ensure new developments on Aurora's east edge and near east Centennial don't negatively impact current residents?

The new developments have already begun to adversely impact current residents as traffic congestion has grown worse still. Increased population growth and permits increasing land development without an already established infrastructure to withstand the growth was irresponsible. We should have pre-planned for expansion of roads, highways and services to ease the impending increase of traffic congestion and its effect on neighborhoods and our neighbors. Certainly, we welcome growth, but failing to have simple foresight and planning created considerable growing pains. We must also zone for continued open spaces to give our families places to walk, run, bike and enjoy.

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