Bringing experience to the table for Jefferson County

Column by Greg Romberg
Posted 1/20/21

In the more than 23 years that I’ve lived in Jefferson County and the almost 40 that I’ve paid close attention to county politics, there have never been new county commissioners who were better …

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Bringing experience to the table for Jefferson County

Posted

In the more than 23 years that I’ve lived in Jefferson County and the almost 40 that I’ve paid close attention to county politics, there have never been new county commissioners who were better prepared to enter office than we had last week when Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Andy Kerr were sworn into office.

Both Kraft-Tharp and Kerr come to the commissioners’ office having previously served Jefferson County taxpayers as members of the General Assembly. Kerr was first elected to the legislature in 2006 and first served as a representative and then as a senator for the next 12 years. Kraft-Tharp served in the House of Representatives from 2012 to 2020.

Their legislative experiences have schooled both new commissioners on a plethora of important issues that will continue to cross their desks in their new jobs. But, more importantly, their legislative service has made them experienced experts about how to work with people who have a variety of different philosophies and opinions to create and implement compromises that work for the benefit of their constituents.

During his time in the legislature, Kerr served in both the majority and minority. While his general inclination would be to work with both sides, nothing teaches elected officials about the tyranny of the majority more than being in the minority. While there are a variety of ways to react to being the victim of abuse of power, I never saw Kerr do anything but continue to cast a wide net to work with various interests to pursue his legislative priorities and work for win-win solutions.

Kraft-Tharp was in the majority for her entire legislative tenure and was the powerful chair of the Business Affairs and Labor Committee during her last four years. In that position, she reached out to a variety of different interests and legislators from across the political spectrum to craft (no pun intended) bipartisan solutions to difficult public policy questions. Among many successes, she developed and passed difficult tax simplification and telecommunications modernization bills. As the chair and a member of the party with significant majorities, she didn’t need to share credit, but she had prime co-sponsors from the minority each time.

Jefferson County faces a variety of tough issues including severe budget difficulties that were initially caused by restrictions of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and then exacerbated by the financial implications of the pandemic. Along with Lesley Dahlkemper, who will continue in office, Kraft-Tharp and Kerr are tasked with continuing to provide important government services to the residents of our county. We’re fortunate to have these proven public servants on the Board of County Commissioners at this critical time.

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie.

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