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County commission candidate focuses on property rights

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By Gabrielle Porter

County commission candidate Frank Teunissen said he will bring a commitment to personal property rights to county government if elected.

The Lakewood resident, a Republican, is running in the November election for the District 2 commission seat currently held by Democrat Casey Tighe. Tighe is running for re-election.

“One of the things I’m going to be focused on is making sure there’s no (government) overreach …,” said Teunissen, who works as a business banking officer for Community Banks of Colorado. “That would be my cornerstone.”

Teunissen said current commission members — including fellow Republicans Libby Szabo and Don Rosier — have done a good job protecting property rights in zoning actions, work that he hopes to continue.

Background

Born in Germany, Teunissen moved to the U.S. at age 12, later obtaining citizenship and graduating from Bear Creek High School. After four years in the U.S. Navy Reserves, he studied accounting and business management at what is now Harper College in Illinois.

Teunissen worked in banking in Illinois for some time before moving back to Colorado to take jobs at several companies, including Compass Bank, Great Western Bank and his current employer, Community Banks of Colorado.

Teunissen ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Lakewood City Council six years ago, and said he has learned more about campaigning since then. He has remained involved in the Jeffco GOP, including serving for two years as treasurer, a position he resigned Dec. 31 to run his county commission campaign. He also worked on several local Republicans’ races for the state House, including Jane Barnes’ bid in 2014, Rick Enstrom’s in 2012, and Edgar Johansson’s in 2010.

Teunissen said he’s been asked by other Republicans to consider running for a seat in the legislature, but he decided the county commission would be a better fit.

“They say (a statehouse position) is only a three- or four-month part-time position, but it really is a full-time position …,” he said, adding that he couldn’t take that much time away from his job. “(And) really, the county commissioner seat, it just fits with my background, with my experience. … I like being involved more locally.”

Economic development, employee morale are priorities

Teunissen said he anticipates major changes in Jeffco in coming years as more light-rail lines open in the county. He said he will change county regulations if necessary to make Jeffco as business-friendly as possible. The first step, he said, is to work directly with business owners to learn about their priorities.

“There’s obviously some large employers in Jefferson County, and we want to find out what’s worked for them,” he said, adding that he also would work closely with the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp., an organization headed by former county commissioner Kevin McCasky.

Teunissen said he has heard about county government’s high employee turnover, and hopes to find a way to keep employees happy.

“I want to make sure that the people working at the county offices consider themselves vested in what they’re doing … (and) really understand what their role is,” he said.

Teunissen said he would like to address the need for affordable housing and rental units in the foothills. He said regulations offering more protection to developers from lawsuits would encourage builders to invest in affordable apartment complexes.

Teunissen also said he is starting to meet with different communities throughout the county, including groups in the foothills, to learn more about their needs.

“I do definitely want to sit down and find out what’s important to them,” he said.

Commissioners represent distinct geographic districts but are voted on by all county residents. District 2 covers the central part of Jeffco, including Lakewood, Golden and North Evergreen.