Heather Lemon, Republican – candidate in Dist. 56 | VailDaily.com

Heather Lemon, Republican – candidate in Dist. 56

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily Heather Lemon

Heather Lemon, an Eagle County attorney, faces former Summit County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom in he race to represent Eagle County is the state House of Representatives.

Scott N. MillerDaily Staff WriterEAGLE COUNTY – Living in Hong Kong helped forge Heather Lemon’s view of the United States.Lemon, the Eagle-Vail Republican seeking to represent Eagle County in the Colorado House of Representatives, lived with her family in Hong Kong for eight years while her husband, Don, did business in Vietnam.”It really clarified my values,” Lemon said. “You see America as others do. I’d have bus drivers ask me if I could help them get visas when they found out I was American.”Living in Asia also influenced Lemon’s decision to join the Republican party.”We’d go to the American Club and watch election results, and they were all Republican,” she said. But it was more than business interests that gave the American Club its tilt to the right.”They all knew America had to be outwardly focused as a nation … It seemed the Democrats were more inwardly focused in terms of national security and defense,” she said. After the family’s stint in Hong Kong, the Lemons decided to return to the United States, and chose to re-settle in Eagle County.But the family’s move to the mountains wasn’t the first time Lemon had lived in Colorado’s high country. The Canadian native moved to Breckenridge in 1972.”I was a ski bum,” Lemon said. “I worked in a ski shop in the winter and worked construction in the summer.”After a couple of years in Colorado, Lemon went to the Chicago area to attend law school. Over the years she married, had two daughters and a son, and settled into the role of active mom.’Positive law’As the kids grew, and after the family settled in Colorado, Lemon started a small law practice in Vail, practicing business and “positive” law, that included helping clients with immigration problems as well as helping families adopt children, she said. She still specializes in those areas of law, and she and Don now have an office in Leadville and have clients there.When she started, “I was doing a lot of pro bono work,” she said. “My partner at the time yelled at me and told me I wouldn’t be in business very long, but people couldn’t afford it.”She was able to stay in the law business, and still chase her kids around to various events. In 1999, with the kids growing and heading off to college, she joined the sales staff at Slifer, Smith & Frampton. She also started to get involved with local politics.She helped former Eagle County School Board member Nancy Reid run for office, which led to volunteer work for other candidates and involvement in the local Republican party.In 2002, that involvement led party officials to ask Lemon to run for the House of Representatives seat that represents Eagle, Summit and Lake Counties. The seat was then held by Leadville Democrat Carl Miller, who has since left office due to term limits. While the district boundaries had been re-drawn just that year, Miller was a popular incumbent. “I didn’t know at the time I wasn’t expected to win,” Lemon said.So she hit the campaign trail hard, and wound up losing by only a few hundred votes.”This year, I knew what I was getting into,” she said.Of course, there have been surprises. The main one this year has been outside money coming into the race, she said. “This seat has been targeted by both sides,” Lemon said, adding that she and Gary Lindstrom, her Democratic opponent, “have pretty much had it.””I think we both feel a little like pawns,” she said. “If I had anything to say about it … we’d run our own campaigns.”If Lemon earns a trip to Denver with this campaign, she said she’d do her best to fulfill her campaign promises of listening, working hard and “being a loud voice” for local interests.”You have to do what’s right for the district, regardless of party,” she said. And, if this race doesn’t work out? “I’ll sell real estate, I’ll do law, I’ll go on vacation,” Lemon said. “But I want to stay active.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

Q: As the Western Slope grows, so does its need for water. How can we meet that need, and what solutions are available at a state level to get the job done?A: “The statutory tools already exist to address the creation of new storage capacity. Wolford Mountain reservoir outside of Kremmling is a good example. Several entities partnered on that project to the benefit of all involved. Unfortunately, the permitting process is the current major roadblock to the creation of new water-development projects. It is far easier to kill a project than it is build one. Though much of the required permitting is federal, there are also some state requirements that might be streamlined.”Q: The state’s budget continues to be squeezed by the conflicting requirements of the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR), Amendment 23 and the Gallagher Amendment. Several efforts to craft a compromise solution failed earlier this year. What’s your favored solution, and how can a compromise be hammered out?A: The Legislature failed to put a question on the ballot last year because they got too caught up in the final solution, which is one that would amend both TABOR and Amendment 23. “It takes two-thirds majority votes in the House and Senate to put a constitutional question on the ballot. I believe it is more politically feasible to consider a simple ‘de-Brucing’ regarding TABOR, which would be statutory, and not constitutional. The General Assembly only requires a simple majority for this type question. That is politically achievable”If we simply asked the voters if we could keep and spend some portion of the next two years of TABOR revenue, we could go a long way toward fixing our problem. The TABOR refund for the next two years is projected at $400 million per year. This money would pretty much bail us out of our current dilemma and re-index the ratchet at the same time.”Q: With the state’s budget crunch has come postponement of several projects along Interstate 70. How crucial are any of these projects in the next 10 years? If these projects are necessary, is it possible to get any of them started given the current budget?A: “If we can address TABOR and keep more of the revenue the state is receiving, it will not only be likely, but absolutely necessary, to address the state’s most dire transportation problem.”Q: Finally, and using as little campaign rhetoric as possible, why do you want this job?A: “The Legislature is deeply divided. I believe that I can bring a fresh perspective, a moderate voice of reason to really solve problems. I have the dedication and commitment, the legal training to understand the bills, the strong sales experience to sell the issues important to my district, and a strong desire to give back to my community. “We need a representative who will listen, and then act for the good of the district. I want to do all I can to preserve our quality of life, the reason we all moved to the mountains, for my children and grandchildren.”Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Colorado

After the state Legislature ended its 2004 session, Lindstrom, a Democrat, was appointed to fill out the term of former Rep. Carl Miller, who stepped down to join the Public Utilities Commission because term limits wouldve prevented him from running for re-election. Lemon lost narrowly to Miller in 2002. She won more votes in Eagle County.

Q: What are the solutions and, how, specifically, would you obtain funding to do what you think would solve both Front Range and Western Slope challenges for water?A: Currently, funding is not the major concern. There is a tremendous need for long-term storage.A: The critical issue is for the Front Range and the West Slope to agree on water priorities, and that basins of origin be protected. There is very little present need for new transmountain diversions. Front Range demands can be met through a combination of better groundwater management, reuse, conservation, in-basin transfers and exchanges. Q: Which CDOT project do you believe is the most important for the state to fund and why? (How will you work to obtain money to fund the project?)A: We need a long-term solution for the I-70 corridor. Any solution must reduce congestion, account for noise and air pollution. A combination of road widening, lane additions plus a dedicated public transport lane/system seems to be the most practical solution. Adding lanes with tolls that allows for two-tier pricing for locals and non-locals while preserving the four-lane freeway has worked in other areas. Getting Coloradans to adopt public transportation will require major behavioral change. Funding would be a huge obstacle but could be obtained from the private sector with state support.Q: How do you plan to address TABOR and Amendment 23, which in tandem, are ratcheting down the ability of the state to spend money?A: The people of Colorado support the principle of TABOR to reasonably restrain most of the growth of government. The people have also supported funding K-12 education through mandated increases. The structural deficit created by these competing interests in a down economy must be addressed. I will work hard to find a bi-partisan solution. Q: Regardless of how you feel about the fact it would change the State Constitution, how do you feel about Amendment 36, which would proportionately allocate the states nine Electoral College votes instead of using a winner-take-all system?A: In a straight popular vote, heavily populated states such as California and New York will dictate who wins. I personally do not want New York or California telling me who most represents my views. I believe that we already have direct representation through our congressmen and senators. The Founding Fathers established the Electoral College to protect the smaller, less populated states from dominance. Vote no.Q: What should Colorado do to become a contender again in the tourism industry? How should it be funded?A: I suggest that a tourism promotion bill based on tax credits and incentives be passed. Hawaii has a similar bill and has attracted the television and movie industry to film on location. Q: Budget cuts are forcing legislators to slash human services and higher education. How do we stop the blood-letting, or do we come up with a different way to fund these?A: First we need to fix the structural budget problems of TABOR and Amendment 23. We then can look at more creative ways to fund needed human services. Broadening the tax base by encouraging business will increase revenues. Q: What ideas do you have to help bolster the economy?A: We can continue to promote our historical heritage, particularly in Summit and Lake counties. We need to simplify our regulations, examine our tax structure and eliminate areas of double taxation, particularly for small businesses. Where appropriate, explore tax incentives that create jobs in industries conducive to mountain communities. Q: What is your biggest accomplishment in the political realm?A: Not being a politician. I do volunteer community service in legal aid, homes for unwed mothers, for the Summit Historical Society, charities and local school functions. What really matters is the quality and character of the candidates and their native abilities to do the job.

HEALTHCAREAffordable healthcare is a critical issue for this District. Everywhere I have been talking to the locals, from Frisco to Leadville, healthcare is the first topic of conversation. It is important to understand that the basic American healthcare system is in place. We have extremely efficient medical centers, we have the best doctors, we have the best pharmaceuticals and we have the safety net (yes, there are holes needing repair) emergency care and Medicaid, Medicare. The issue is the costs. Hospitals and doctors are buried in paperwork adding huge unnecessary costsReduce regulations and mandated coverages to offer more choiceDe-regulation in banking, telecommunications, energy industries have cut costs 30% – 40% and improved serviceIntroduce competition to lower premiumsEducate our employers, employees and individuals on Health Savings AccountsPrescription drug costs must be reviewed, FDA practices, coverages based on choiceEncourage outpatient surgery/treatment centers improving care and costsUniversal healthcare sounds good, but is not practical, too expensive, and does not provide adequate careTort reform will improve costsWhen people have choice, they will choose the best value and treatments to take their money the furthest.The patient controls the care, the quality and the costs.JOBS/ECONOMYIt is not governments job to MAKE WORK. It is governments job to create a climate where it is attractive for businesses to open, and be successful. We need to diversify our economic base from the dependence we have on our single industry system.Encourage further infrastructure development in data/voice high speed internet and/or telecommunications to attract clean industry and/or higher educationKeep taxes low, simplify bureaucracy to encourage small business to locate hereBalance the growth with appropriate infrastructure and planningAs a small business owner, and advisor to many small businesses, Heather understands the issues facing small business, and the conditions needed to encourage investment and create jobs.TOURISM PROMOTIONColorado ranks in the bottom third of states in the spending to promote the state and tourism. For every $ spent in promotion, it is estimated that $ is generated in revenues to the state. With the current budget crisis, there is no additional funding available.Heather proposes a Tourism Promotion Bill based on tax credits and incentivesTax incentive tax rebate to TV and movie production companiesCompanies must use state name, or recognizably Coloradan word in titleCompanies must hire 50% of production jobs from localsCompanies must utilize state scenery, culture & products on screen3 new shows on Hawaii in 2004Las Vegas is another exampleFree advertising for the state with far greater distribution than commercialsNo general fund dollars at riskIT industry of Colorado has technical capability Provides Colorado jobsGenerates revenues for general fundEDUCATIONHeather is committed to quality education for every child. All three of her children have gone through Battle Mountain High School. The dedication and commitment of the teachers and educators that taught her kids made a huge contribution to their lives.Schools must be fairly funded maximizing the dollars to the classroomSchools must be accountable for their budgets, capital improvements and the effective use of the financing.A more equitable system of standardized testing recognizing the difference between English and non-English speakers and the number of years the students are in the system should be developed.Support higher education ENERGYHeather recognizes that the less dependent the U.S. is on foreign oil, the less susceptible our economy will be to terrorism threats and radical price fluctuations. China and India are rapidly increasing their demand for oil, which will continue to drive prices up. Heather believes we must aggressively pursue alternative renewable energy sources to diversify our energy dependence on oil, especially foreign oil.Encourage responsible oil and gas development with full recognition for surface owners rights, and sensitivity to the environmental impact of such activitySupport the Colorado effort to secure the FutureGen coal fired zero emission power plant, as a model of clean energy and technology advancementPromote tax incentives and credits for development of alternative renewable energy sources, particularly wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and review the overall environmental impact of hydro developed energy.Support energy conservation measures to reduce our consumptionENVIRONMENTThe quality of life we have in the mountains is the primary reason most of us moved here. Heather believes it is essential to preserve our environment, protect our open space, defend our basin of origin water resources, and safeguard our forests.Present and future West Slope consumptive water uses, as well as environmental and recreational needs must be recognized and protected before any additional diversion of transmountain waterProtect the in-stream flows for environmental and recreation considerationsSupport conservation programs for our water and environment BUDGET/TAXESThe people of Colorado have overwhelmingly supported the principle of the Tax Payers Bill of Rights (TABOR) to reasonably restrain most of the growth of government. The people have also overwhelmingly supported the mandated funding increases for K-12 education, (Amendment 23). The structural deficit created by these competing interests in a down economy, needs to be addressed.Creation of a rainy day fund which will allow budget adjustments when revenues are downWithout changing citizens original intent, which was to require an assenting vote of the effected citizenry any time taxes are raised, adjustments are necessary to TABOR and to Amendment 23TRANSPORTATIONColoradans seem to believe that there is an inalienable right to drive. To change attitudes regarding public transportation, will require major behavioral modifications. Public transportation works well where there is a requirement for mass movement of people New York subway, Hong Kong MTR. The I-70 corridor is a vital artery for moving people and goods. Any proposed solution must address real reduction in congestion, air and noise pollution concerns, and have long term capability. But talking about the problem for 11 years is long enough.Oppose toll on Eisenhower Tunnel would consider tolls on new lanes offering an option other systems with medallions or automated electronic clearances could recognize two tier (local, non-local) pricing.Oppose any attempt to remove control of transportation funding from the transportation commission Oppose any attempt to alter the current balance in the Transportation Commission that already favors the Front Range, to a population based formula, that would further jeopardize the West Slope representation.Long term infrastructure improvements will require Private/Public partnerships to secure the fundingSupport the formation of a Rural Planning Organization that is eligible for federal funding directly similar to the Metropolitan Planning Organization currently operating on Front Range.Vail Daily

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