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Because her mother had been involved in politics, Libby Szabo was raised to believe it’s important to be well-informed on issues and know your political leaders.
Szabo, a Republican, is running against Marti J. Smith in the upcoming election to keep her seat as the Jefferson County commissioner for District 1 — the northern part of the county that includes Arvada and Westminster. Commissioners are voted on at large, though they must reside within their district boundaries.
“Jefferson County has molded who I am,” Szabo said. “That’s why I want to give back in the role of county commissioner. I’ve always been an advocate of serving your community.”
Szabo served in the state legislature for four years as the representative for House District 27, which is Arvada. And when the opportunity came up to become a commissioner for Jefferson County, she saw it as coming home, she said.
Whether it be volunteering at a local food bank or coaching youth sports, being involved in a community is important, Szabo said. “Serve where you’re planted because that’s your community.”
Szabo, 52, was born in Denver and moved to Jefferson County when she was 10. She is a graduate of Wheat Ridge High School.
She was sworn in to the Board of County Commissioners in January 2015 to serve the remaining two years of former commissioner Faye Griffin’s term, after she was elected to county Clerk and Recorder. Commissioners serve four-year terms.
Szabo believes that collaboration and working with different entities is important for a successful government. She spent a year talking to department heads to learn how they operate and hearing opinions on what the commissioners can do to make county government more efficient, she said.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader, Szabo is a supporter of the sheriff’s office, and believes she will continue the strong, collaborative working relationship if re-elected.
Budget requests are one issue Shrader works on with commissioners.
“Conversations are always respectful,” he said, “even when we would be in a position of disagreement.”
Szabo says she has implemented positive changes to the county budget process, including making it more transparent and user-friendly to the average citizen.
Arvada Mayor Marc Williams also lauds Szabo’s relationship with county and city entities.
“She’s been very cohesive working with the other commissioners,” Williams said. “I’ve always found her to be a good go-to person on Arvada issues.”
Szabo believes Jeffco community core values, include public safety and ensuring that infrastructure keeps up with growth. Setting a policy or plan for smart growth is vital, she said.
“We’ve got to be ready,” Szabo said. “Jefferson County is an active community.”
Szabo is also an advocate of small businesses, which she believes is the backbone of a community. In 2014, she was a recipient of the National Federation of Independent Business’s Guardian of Small Business Award, which is given to legislators in recognition of their efforts to support small business issues.
Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison and Szabo worked together on securing primary jobs throughout the county. They serve together on the board of the Urban Drainage and Flood Control, which consists of county commissioners, mayors and city councilmembers from across the metro area.
Szabo is an effective listener, is willing to make decisions, asks questions and is a good collaborator, Atchison said.
“She’s a proven supporter of Jefferson County,” he said. “She doesn’t do this to get fanfare or recognition. She’s there for the people she serves.”
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