Kayla Story Patterson, a Republican, will challenge incumbent La Plata County Commissioner Julie Westendorff, a Democrat, in November.
Patterson, a lifelong La Plata County resident and first-time political candidate, is hosting a campaign kickoff party Friday to announce her candidacy for District 3 on the Board of County Commissioners.
“I think business is a big issue facing La Plata County. We need to bring business to La Plata County and be able to work with local businesses already here,” said Patterson, a legal assistant. “Keeping La Plata County open for business is a great idea, whatever that looks like, as long as we’re doing it safely and economically. I don’t believe that is necessarily what’s happening now.”
A staunch advocate for the King II coal mine in Hesperus, which employs more than 100 people and is in the middle of a struggle with the county to come to an accord on the terms of a land-use permit, Patterson said she wants to see a more streamlined process and more teamwork between business and government.
La Plata County might have several tax-increase questions on the ballot this fall to fund roads and bridges, schools and an airport terminal expansion.
Patterson said voters should decide, but she is leaning toward a sales tax increase over a property tax increase for the airport so visitors and residents would share the cost burden.
If elected, Patterson said she would team with State House Rep. J. Paul Brown and his staff to work on water conservation and irrigation strategies to supply water to the entire county.
Patterson said her age, 28, will be an asset in her campaign.
“I am young and energetic,” she said. “I love La Plata County. I was born and raised here. I want my family to be raised here, and I think getting involved at a younger age is a good thing. I want to do what I can for La Plata County because it’s done a lot for me.”
Patterson’s campaign kickoff party will be at 6 p.m. Friday. It will be starting off at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum at 479 Main Ave. Attendees will then head to Seasons at 764 Main Ave.