Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer announced Monday that she will seek the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District seat.
Kirkmeyer said she decided to join the race after Weld Commissioner Sean Conway said Sunday night that he would not seek the Republican nomination.
“When he told me he wasn’t going to run, I went through the process myself,” said Kirkmeyer, in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C. “I talked to my kids. I prayed about it, talked to my family again.”
She added, “I’ve been talking with quite a few local government officials from Greeley to Prowers County to Douglas County and several municipalities in Weld County and I’ve really been humbled and overwhelmed by their positive support.”
Kirkmeyer, 55, said she will formally announce her candidacy Tuesday night at the District F caucus at Coal Ridge Middle School in Firestone.
Kirkmeyer will challenge state Sen. Scott Renfroe and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck in the race for the Republican nomination.
The seat opened when U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma decided last week to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Mark Udall, a Democrat.
Kirkmeyer is a fourth-generation Coloradan who has spent the past 20 years working for Weld County and at the state level.
She was first elected county commissioner in 1993 and served eight years before working in the state Department of Local Affairs in Gov. Bill Owens’ administration. Kirkmeyer is currently serving her second term as a Weld commissioner.
Kirkmeyer, who was raised on a dairy farm and lives in southwest Weld County, said she has considered running for a higher office in the past.
“I had thought about either one day running for Congress or running for governor, but those opportunities just don’t open up that often,” Kirkmeyer said. “This opportunity opened up.”
Kirkmeyer said she would not have run against Conway.
“If Sean was going to run, I would have backed him 100 percent,” she said.
Kirkmeyer said she’s seen firsthand how the federal government impacts state and local governments in regard to unfunded mandates, burdensome regulations and an unacceptable debt.
“In Weld County, we do more than just talk the talk. We walk the walk,” Kirkmeyer said. “We actually balance our budgets. We are the only county in the state that has no long-term debt, that has no short-term debt, no county sales tax. I think we need to take that Weld County model to Washington.”
She added, “Quite honestly, I’m appalled at our national debt of over $17 trillion. I just think we’re at a critical point, and we need a congresswoman who’s going to go back there and fight for us and who will be a strong, conservative leader with a proven track record.”
As for her opponents, Buck and Renfroe, she said she knows both of them and, as the election proceeds, the differences among the three of them will become clear and that voters will have a choice.
“I know I’m a woman in the race, but I’m also a fourth-generation Coloradan,” Kirkmeyer said. “I have owned and operated a small business with my sister for 15 years. I understand those challenges of small business. I know I have a strong grasp on the issues that farmers and ranchers deal with on a daily basis. I have a small business background. I have an agricultural background, and I have a public service background.”
She added, “I have accomplished a lot. I’ve gotten a lot done. I’ve gone out and worked for the people that I serve, and that is something I plan on doing in the 4th Congressional District. I plan on giving them a choice in this race and fighting for our voice.”