Name: Abe Laydon
Profession: District 1 Commissioner
Biography: I am a fifth-generation Coloradan, land use attorney, husband of 20 years to my wife Kimberly, father of three, resident of Lone Tree, and member of Cherry Hills Community Church. Now in my fourth year as Douglas County commissioner, I am currently serving as chairman of the board. In addition to my fundamental responsibilities as a commissioner, I also serve as a representative of Douglas County to the Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority Board, Arapahoe/Douglas Workforce Investment Board, Centennial Airport Community Noise Roundtable, Cherry Creek Basin Water Quality Control Authority, Denver South Economic Development Partnership Board of Directors and Denver South I-25 Urban Corridor Transportation Management Authority, Community Services Block Grant Tripartite Board, Developmental Pathways Board of Directors, Douglas County Community Foundation, Chairman of the Douglas County Youth Initiative Advisory Board, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health 9-8-8 Implementation Planning Committee. In September 2021, Governor Polis appointed me to the Colorado Forest Health Council.
Additionally, I share in the board’s responsibility for the county’s presence on the Chatfield Basin Watershed Authority, Denver South Economic Development Partnership, Denver Regional Council of Governments, Metro Area County Commissioners, Partnership of Douglas County Governments and Mile High Flood District (formerly Urban Drainage and Flood Control District).
I currently serve on the Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) subcommittees on Health and Human Services, Land Use and Natural Resources, and Transportation and Telecommunications. I also serve on both the National Association of Counties Transportation Policy Steering Committee and the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials Public Health Transformation Steering Committee. In addition, I am a member of the Douglas County Mental Health Initiative Workgroup for Development of Programs and Interventions, and the Sky Ridge Community Council.
As a commissioner, I also serve on the Board of Adjustment, the Board of Human Services, the Liquor Licensing Authority, and the Board of Social Services.
Prior to being elected as county commissioner, I served as a Douglas County planning commissioner for two terms, and as the Douglas County Republican Party’s first vice-chairman and treasurer. A graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, I have been involved in philanthropy and civic service my entire life. I have served on the boards of many local nonprofits, was an officer and member of Denver Active 20-30 and the Metro Denver Board of Christian Legal Society.
As a 15-year land use and business attorney, I was an equity partner at a large business law firm and currently am a member of the Colorado Bar Association, and the American Bar Association.
What is the biggest issue facing the county currently and how will you address it?
The threat of wildfires is one of the biggest issues facing the county. I started the Douglas County Wildfire Initiative to tackle this threat head-on with experts in firefighting, open space, vegetation control, and emergency management where we have already increased aerial support, amplified community outreach and education through CodeRed, and launched a program to significantly mitigate land most susceptible to risk.
What initiatives would you like to see the board of commissioners put in place in the next few years?
I started the Douglas County Homeless Initiative to reduce our current point-in-time count of 78 people to functional zero. I would like to continue the incredible success of our HEART teams (Homeless Engagement and Assistance Resource Teams) to continue to keep our community compassionate, code-enforcing, clean, and safe.
To what degree do you see housing affordability as an issue in the county? What, if any, actions would you like to see taken to address this?
It is critically important that our teachers, veterans, first responders, and frontline healthcare workers can live and work in our county. I am interested in partnerships which would allow more workforce housing to exist in the county to serve those that serve our citizens. Such projects also greatly help minimize traffic congestion by reducing their commute times.
How would you interact with your fellow commissioners to develop policies if elected?
Good public policy at the board level originates from respectful, professional, and civil discourse even when there is disagreement. I have and will continue to ensure that divisive, hostile, and unproductive behavior is not tolerated. I have also worked to elevate citizen outreach with more accurate, transparent and accountable information, which has included over 70 live town halls, as well as public hearings, and public work sessions where respectful, professional citizen engagement is welcomed.
What actions would you take to address the local rise in homelessness?
I am currently addressing the rise in homelessness by implementing our current plan through the Douglas County Homeless Initiative to discourage all citizens from handing money out of car windows, redirect generosity to trusted nonprofits through the Douglas County Community Foundation, and remind citizens to call the new HEART Team who can engage with those experiencing homelessness by offering services and providing transportation. This HEART Team can also keep Douglas County safe when they encounter vandalism, littering, or encampments either in front of businesses that have signed trespass letters or on county-owned property.
What can the county do to secure sufficient water for its current and future residents?
Water scarcity has always been a reality in the West. Rueter-Hess Reservoir has been an incredible countywide success but the county can continue to secure sufficient water resources through more reclamation, rain water harvesting, conservation, and robust regional partnerships which collaborate creatively around potential countywide options for all stakeholders and citizens. We must think outside the box while remaining fiscally conservative.