Abe Laydon’s opponent in the Republican primary election for county commissioner, Diane Holbert, may have years of experience in a public office, a service Laydon says he respects. But he believes …
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Abe Laydon’s opponent in the Republican primary election for county commissioner, Diane Holbert, may have years of experience in a public office, a service Laydon says he respects. But he believes Douglas County is ready for a fresh face in local government.
And Laydon says he’s it.
The attorney from Lone Tree is a husband and father of three who is ready to put his law career on hold should he win the race for county commissioner of District 1, which covers areas of Lone Tree, Parker and northeast portions of unincorporated Douglas County.
The 42-year-old has been a practicing business and land use attorney for 15 years. That includes overseeing multimillion-dollar deals, he said, acquisitions, commercial leases and, on occasion, tenant disputes.
“I think the most challenging aspect is when parties have a hard time communicating,” he said. “My best skill set is being able to sit down in a room with people who have different viewpoints and getting them to a place of understanding.”
He became interested in law in kindergarten, when Laydon’s teacher assigned him to be the prosecutor in the Goldilocks case.
“I got a conviction,” Laydon said, jokingly, “and the rest was history.”
Laydon studied political science at Colorado State University and earned a law degree from the University of Colorado.
Laydon has put the land use experience to work as a Douglas County planning commissioner and, through that role, earned the support of Diana Love, president of the Franktown Citizens Coalition.
Love, a former attorney and chief prosecutor, and the Franktown Citizens Coalition gathered in the hundreds at county planning commission and county board meetings to protest a development proposing 286 residential units, commercial and retail space near the rural community. The group prevailed when developers withdrew their application.
Amid the controversy, Love walked away with lasting respect for Laydon.
“All of us were incredibly impressed with how carefully he listened, with the questions he asked, with the comments he made,” she said. “It became very clear that he knew what he was doing. That he cared. That meeting the law was important to him.”
Following a county board meeting, Love approached Laydon to thank him for his work on the Franktown development. He mentioned he was running for commissioner.
“I said to him, ‘I would like to help,’” Love said.
Love said she found Laydon to be a lawyer as concerned with ethics as he was with the law.
And as a non-affiliated voter, Love said, she cares not about a candidate’s party affiliation but about their qualifications.
“I think Douglas County needs Abe Laydon,” she said.
Holbert declined to comment on Laydon’s candidacy beyond an email statement.
“My job is being the best commissioner that I can be by dedicating my time and energy to serving and representing every citizen in Douglas County,” she wrote. “I am committed to running a positive campaign which highlights my experience in service to the community.”
But although Holbert said she’s running a positive campaign, Laydon said a local political action committee mailed negative information about him in April concerning a 2016 charge of driving under the influence.
A spokeswoman for Laydon’s campaign said the mailer was disseminated by the group Douglas County Conservatives. A spokesperson for the committee could not be reached for comment.
Laydon posted a video to his Facebook page in which he explains his version of events behind the incident.
“Prior to driving I felt completely sober and lucid,” he says in the video. After being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, Laydon said he agreed to a roadside test but declined a chemical test, which meant there was no measurement of blood-alcohol content.
“As a result of that,” he says, “the refusal was automatically charged as a DUI. Now that DUI was ultimately pled down to a DWAI, a lesser charge, but that DWAI is a part of my record. I made that mistake and I take that incident very seriously.”
Court records show a 2016 DUI charge against Laydon was dismissed. He pleaded guilty to a lower-level DWAI charge — driving while ability impaired — and was sentenced to six months of probation and one day of community service.
Laydon says in the video the experience taught him driving with any amount of alcohol in your system is “never OK, no matter how sober or lucid you think you may feel,” and that he’s a better candidate having learned that lesson.
Responsible growth emphasized
Laydon’s vision is to deliver fiscal accountability, manage growth and improve infrastructure and transportation as a county commissioner.
“Responsible growth is a big one,” he said. “The number one thing that people tell me about is they’re concerned with growth and development in Douglas County.”
The Franktown deal is a prime example that he won’t rubber-stamp development proposals in the county, Laydon said.
“He is, I think, very sensitive to the testimony of the citizens that we hear,” said fellow planning commissioner Clarence Hughes. “But he also understands the property owners’ right as well. I think he does an excellent job of balancing.”
Laydon earned his support for commissioner because of the way he interacts with residents, Hughes said. His land use experience “is just a critical piece of being an effective county commissioner.”
Laydon said he’s not anti-development, noting some of his clients are developers whom he respects, but he’s still concerned with high-density proposals. He’s voted against other developments he said were too dense and didn’t provide ample infrastructure or could have strained water resources.
“I’m the only candidate in the race with land-use experience,” he said. “So, if the concerns with people in Douglas County are growth and overdevelopment, you really have to have somebody in that position with land-use experience.”
Laydon said he entered the race with humble expectations. His only goal going into the county assembly was to secure enough delegate votes to make the primary ballot. Then he earned nearly half.
“Thrilled,” he said. “Oh, my goodness, I was so excited.”
During the county Republicans’ April 9 vacancy committee meeting held to replace David Weaver as a county commissioner, Laydon congratulated Holbert, who won the interim position. His focus moving forward, he said following the vote, would be winning the June 26 primary.
“I believe,” he said, “as a county commissioner you have an opportunity to truly serve the people of this county.”
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