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Life abroad cemented candidate’s patriotism

Scott N. Miller
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyHeather Lemon, an Eagle-Vail attorney, is making her second bid to represent Eagle County in the Colorado state House of Representatives. The Republican lost narrowly in 2002.
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EAGLE 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


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