Name: Leslie Summey
Biography: I grew up in Colorado Springs. I spent some time at Colorado College, then enlisted in the US Navy, where I served in Charleston, SC, San Diego, CA and ended my military career in Washington, DC at the US Navy Band. My US Army (ret) husband Harold and I have been married for almost 29 years and we have five amazing kids from 27-17.
What are your takeaways from the county’s shift toward voting Democratic in recent elections?
It is clear that the people of Arapahoe County are not happy with the direction things were going. Now we Democrats need to continue to earn that support through finding root cause solutions to county issues and addressing them.
How will you support the county’s new health department set to be operational Jan. 1?
Much work has already been done to make sure we are ready on January 1, including surveying current residents that you can participate in here: arapahoegov.com/2227/Public-Health-Survey. As we move forward with our new health department it is most important to ensure that we have the infrastructure in place to serve those most vulnerable. I am not a public health expert and therefore will rely on hearing from those on the ground, who are most impacted to help make decisions to best serve Arapahoe County.
What are your priorities for spending funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and bipartisan infrastructure law in Arapahoe County?
Our small businesses and residents are still working towards recovery from COVID-19. Any funds that are still unspoken for need to go towards ensuring that doors stay open, food is on the table, and roofs stay over our residents' heads.
What would you do regarding housing, development and growth in Arapahoe County?
Arapahoe County has been driven by developers for too long. Individual metro districts are creating a lack of continuity of our neighborhoods. On top of that our rising housing and food costs are putting everyday families at risk of losing their homes, and our unhoused community has grown exponentially. Furthermore we can't talk about housing and development without considering the impacts of climate change. So as we move forward we need to incentivize sustainable and affordable solutions that center the needs of the most impacted first.
Affordable housing is a problem across the entire Denver metro area. What can be done at the county level to address the issues?
We need to address the systemic issues that keep our residents from being able to buy a home or frankly, at this point to even comfortably rent a home. We have more and more people who are not able to live anywhere close to where they work. A place we could start is looking at is the abundance of out-of-town corporations buying up our housing inventory and keeping everyday families out of the market.
What efforts would you support to address homelessness in Arapahoe County?
We should invest in long-term proven solutions, not Band-Aids. We need to increase the county's investment in a housing-first policy that prioritizes wraparound services, including mental health. We know the upfront investment results not only in better outcomes but also saves the county money in the long run and plus increases revenue through increased self-sufficiency.