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Q&A: James Crowder, candidate for Boulder County commissioner District 2

The Longmont Leader reached out to candidates of the races listed in the voter’s guide with a list of questions. Each response will be published as it is received and may be edited for clarity and/or length.
2020_09_29_LL_James_Crowder
James Crowder, Republican candidate for Boulder County commissioner District 2. (Photo courtesy of James Crowder)

The Longmont Leader reached out to candidates of the races listed in our voter’s guide with a list of questions. Each response will be published as it is received and may be edited for clarity and/or length. The Longmont Leader does not endorse any candidate and is providing as much information as we can to help voters make an informed decision in the 2020 election. If you have questions please contact info@longmontleader.com.

Candidate bio

I was drawn to the Boulder Valley when I was still in college. It took me a while to get here, but I finally did in 1978 and I have never wanted to live anywhere else. The rural nature of our county is something that I love and want to preserve. I spent my formative years in the panhandle of Texas and attended college at Texas Tech University. While in my senior year, I was drafted to serve during the Vietnam War. I served almost four years in the Navy and upon my return, I completed my degree and started on an MBA. My son was born and I took a job working for the South Plains Association of Governments as the chief financial officer. A few years later I was recruited to join the Houston-Galveston Council of Governments as CFO and to help design and build a new computer system to perform our accounting and grants administration functions as well as provide management reporting. This system was universally adopted by all the Council of Governments in Texas. Not being able to shake the pull of Boulder, I packed up in 1978 and moved here to start a real estate brokerage. Soon after, in 1982 I started a mortgage brokerage and have operated as Crowder Mortgage ever since.

What qualities do you possess that qualify you for the job you are seeking?

I am trained and experienced in governmental accounting and financial administration. I also have directed a large department at the Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments. This experience taught me that knowing where the money goes and making that information available to the public is key to good governance. The people should always have a voice in how their tax dollars are spent. My experience in the housing sector also serves to provide a deep understanding of the challenges to the development of affordable housing. And by affordable housing, I mean housing that the folks that live and work in Boulder County can afford to buy. I am a careful listener. It is important to me to hear what services the folks in Boulder County want from their government.

If you are elected, is there anything in particular that you hope to accomplish? And briefly, what is it and why is it important?

Bearing in mind that there are three commissioners of which I will be only one, I would hope to have town hall meetings in each of our communities for the purpose of listening to concerns of the folks that live there. I would hope to be able to turn the tide on ever-increasing property taxes and not just spend the maximum that the law allows every year. Does the county need to be doing everything that it is doing? I don't think so. I think our county government has grown too large and the regulations too extensive. All this is important because county government is the steward of the people's tax dollars and it should make effective and wise use of those funds.

What are your plans to ensure that all of your constituents would have access to the same resources and opportunities, regardless of race or socioeconomic status? In your view, where does the system fall short?

I will enforce all federal, state and county law regarding the provision of equal opportunities in jobs, housing and finance. At the same time, I will always seek the most qualified candidate for a job at the county regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, marital status, age, disability or sexual orientation … period!

What are you doing to disrupt the status quo of politics? If you had the power, what one change would you make right now?

Very little that one person can do by themselves. One needs to have a consensus to make big changes. With the divisiveness in our society right now, finding consensus is very difficult. However, there is one change that I think we could all probably agree upon. My idea would be an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would make it illegal for anyone other than a U.S. citizen, living in the district represented by a politician to offer anything of value to that politician; and it would be illegal for a politician to accept anything of value except for the voters in their district. Were this the case, our representatives would have to spend more time at home listening to us since they would no longer be able to receive contributions from any organization … only the individual voters in their district.

Are you satisfied with Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If yes, why? If not, what do you think should be done instead? Can more be done at the local level? The federal level?

I am not a scientist and therefore I am not qualified to express and opinion on whether the response was well-founded in science and effective. I do know, however, that the response has had a devastating impact on our economy, the education of our children and on the health of those who put off care during the pandemic. And probably in our confidence in government.

Colorado is facing a projected budget shortfall of more than $6 billion in the next three years because of the reduction in tax revenue caused by the pandemic. How should the state and local government set budget priorities? How deeply should cuts be made? What should your office be doing, or is doing, to prepare?

As a county commissioner, I would have little to do with the finances of the state. My concern would be to be the best steward of the tax dollars entrusted to me by citizens of Boulder County and of the federal and state funds that the county receives. I will take a magnifying glass to our budget to find waste. I will also review every program for need, effectiveness and cost. The county must live within its means just as you and I must. Sometimes shortfalls force hard decisions. What to cut should be based on the priorities expressed by the folks that live here. Commissioners should, first of all, ask and then listen to those folks before setting any priorities for cuts … or new programs.

A question on this year’s ballot is seeking to repeal the Gallagher Amendment. Are you in support of the measure?  Why or why not?

I am not. It will only lead to higher residential property taxes. I have yet to speak to anyone who feels that their property taxes are too low.

Another initiative on the ballot seeks to create a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program. Do you support this measure? If it fails, should state or local lawmakers pursue similar measures?

If the initiative carries, then the people have spoken. If not, I would not pursue something that is not a clear priority of the majority.

What do you think is the most pressing matter that pertains to the next generation of Coloradans who may be voting for the first time?

Being informed. Understanding your bias. Having an interest in and knowledge of history informs us on which public policy works which don't.

Who is your hero, and why?

Jesus. His teachings inform my life and my dealings with others. He taught love and forgiveness.