Lee Kemp prides himself on being able to work with anyone, no matter their political affiliation.
“I refuse not to come out of a room without something that we can each take moving something forward,” Kemp said. “To take this approach of not being willing to work with somebody is just so bizarre to me. We’ve got to stop that.”
The 58-year-old Kemp, a Democrat, is running for the Colorado State Senate District 23 seat against Republican Vicki Marble because he said he has some unfinished business.
After serving as the chairman of the board for the Regional Transportation District in Denver for the past five years, Kemp will have to leave that seat due to term limits.
“RTD is elected by the people. There’s 15 board members,” said Kemp, a regional sales manager for MCI Coach. “There are eight counties, 40 municipalities and 2.9 million people. Term limits have left me behind of what it was I was doing, and I want to stay engaged.”
After serving in the U.S. Army, Kemp moved to Colorado 35 years ago and started working as a body shop helper mechanic at the age of 22.
“And now I’m chairman of the board,” Kemp said.
If elected, Kemp feels like he has more work to do in the transportation arena relating to the RTD FasTracks Program, which is a multi-billion dollar transit expansion plan to build 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit, 21,000 new parking spaces at light rail and bus stations, and enhance bus service for bus/rail connections across the eight-county district.
“Over 60 percent of FasTrack will be done on time and on budget,” Kemp said. “I still feel that because I haven’t been able to complete the lines in the north area, my job’s not done. I think there’s other collaborative ways of getting that done. If I was fortunate enough to get elected as state senator, I think I could help get those done because there’s programs that are already out there like the CDOT EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) that was done for north I-25. There are lots of modes of transportation that had been cleared within that study. There’s a rail element. There’s Bus Rapid Transit going up and down I-25. There are elements of bus service that would service U.S. 34 and U.S. 85 that would mitigate congestion in the north area.”
Kemp is in support of reservoirs and the Northern Integrated Supply Project, which would create two new reservoirs — one outside Fort Collins and the other in Galeton.
“We’ve got to retain the water. If we don’t, farming is going to be grandma’s backyard growing tomatoes because these farmers aren’t going to be able to afford to do anything,” Kemp said.
Kemp is also in support of the gas and oil industry.
“But there’s things we need to do to help mitigate what’s happening and one of them is the water that’s used for fracking,” Kemp said. “Are we reclaiming as much as we possibly can and reusing and bringing back what we can for agriculture or whatever? I want to make sure that we preserve everything we possibly can, but I don’t want to harm the gas and oil industry. It’s been 17-18 percent of the new revenue stream up here of what’s keeping us in the black.”
As for education, Kemp said he would like to see the private sector help train current high school students and recent high school graduates and place them on a vocational path if college isn’t for them.