Challenger aims to help folks "make a living’
The Lemon family lived in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia for years, working in the international banking business. When they headed back to the United States, they could have lived anywhere – they chose here, Lemon said.
“I’m from Eagle County. This is my home and I’ve made it permanent,” says Lemon, an Eagle-Vail Republican who’s challenging Leadville Democrat Carl Miller for the state House District 56 seat.
It’s a home like no other, and it has embraced the Lemon family, she said.
Lemon’s a mother of three – one in college, two in high school – all honor students.
An automobile accident in July 2000 left her youngest daughter, Kelly, a freshman at Battle Mountain High School, with a paralyzed right arm and the family buried under mountains of medical bills. As they were digging out from under it all, Lemon said she was astounded by people’s willingness in this area to rally for one another.
“I’ve never lived anywhere that the community supported its people like they do here,” says Lemon.
She and Kelly winged their way to Canada for experimental surgery to help Kelly regain the use of her arm, which is happening slowly. It’s happening because Lemon was able to walk into the hospital with a check for $27,000 to pay for the surgery – money raised by local friends at every imaginable type of fund-raiser.
“We were absolutely overwhelmed by the community’s support,” says Lemon. “Schools and churches are made up of people, and those wonderful people came from everywhere to help us. We would never have made it without them.
“I want to return some of the outpouring we received, and that’s why I’m running,” she added.
Lemon, a Republican, is one of those pull-yourself-up American success stories. She worked her way through Wheaton College and John Marshall Law School in Chicago, then launched a successful legal career, practicing what she calls “positive law.”
She doesn’t do divorce and she doesn’t do crime, but shesaid she will do windows. Her practice, with husband, life partner and law partner Don Lemon, now focuses on immigration.
“In immigration work, you’re helping people change their lives for the better,” says Lemon. “They’re trying to improve their lives by legally immigrating into this country. They’re getting jobs, paying taxes, getting married, becoming citizens and contributing to the area both economically and culturally.”
Because she gives away so much legal advice, she supplements her income as a real estate agent.
Lemon listed her legislative priorities as harnessing runaway healthcare costs, protecting Western Slope water, land use, conservation and open space preservation.
Economic diversity, she said, is vital to the area’s long-term vitality.
“The region should be attracting high-tech, low impact, non-polluting industry,” Lemon said. “It could become an economic center for the healthcare or high tech industries. We should be exploring ways for people to make a living without opening up another ski shop.”
All improvements, she says, are a step-by-step process.
“You’re not going to change the world in one fell swoop,” she says. “It takes energy applied over time. There’s no other way.”
Lemon said said that while Miller’s eight years of experience in the state Legislature are all well and good, it’s leadership that counts.
“You have to get out front and lead on these issues,” she said. “Because I’m an attorney, I understand the legal aspects of legislation. My sales background will help me convince other legislators to see things our way when we’re battling for the Western Slope.”