Former District 2 Arapahoe County Commissioner Jim Dyer has his share of political war stories from 10 years in county and state elected office. …
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Former District 2 Arapahoe County Commissioner Jim Dyer has his
share of political war stories from 10 years in county and state
After a stint in the Air Force, the west Centennial Republican
earned second stripes raising three daughters — virtually on his
own — before entering the dogfights of Colorado politics.
A Mormon and a devout student of history, Dyer, 63, is quick to
correct what he says are misconceptions about military, political
and religious history.
For example, Dyer, who holds two history degrees from the
University of Denver, challenges a conventional talking point that
says the New World was founded on the principle of protecting
“They wanted the freedom to practice their own religion,” Dyer
said of the early pilgrims.
As evidence, he points to his own ancestor — Mary Dyer, a Quaker
who in 1660 was famously hanged in Boston for defying a Puritan law
banning Quakers from the Massachusetts colony.
Some 350 years later, the sometimes controversial 21st-century
Dyer escaped such fates — though some questioned his wisdom in
converting to Mormonism on the eve of running for county
“If you want this job so bad, you’re willing to sell your soul,
you shouldn’t have this job,” he said.
Prior to his county position, Dyer served six years in the
Colorado Senate representing Arapahoe County’s District 26. Before
that, he campaigned for the likes of U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse
Campbell and U.S. Rep. Dan Schaefer.
Last March, Dyer surprised political observers when he said he
would not seek a second term on the county’s board of
commissioners. As he completes his decade in politics, Dyer sat
down for an interview with Colorado Community Newspapers.
CCN: What are your plans?
Dyer: To work in the water business. Beyond that, I’m not going
to publicly discuss what I’m going to do for a lot of reasons.
CCN: Do you have a job offer?
Dyer: I do.
CCN: You served on the board of the Arapahoe County Water and
Wastewater Authority. Is that where your future lies?
CCN: Any chance you’ll run for office again?
Dyer: I don’t think so. Ten years of elected office is enough
for anybody. When you’re in politics and you drink the water of
power, people start to believe their own press clippings. They
become demanding and judgmental and experts in things they’re not
This is not a lifetime job. I’m at the top of my game. I did
what I wanted to do. I figured there’s no better time in the world
to leave than when you are on the top of your game.
CCN: What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Dyer: When I ran for this office, we didn’t have a paid Veterans
Services officer in the county. We have 88,000 veterans. I made a
campaign promise that I would get us one. We have collected [in
2010] over a million dollars in [federal] benefits [for veterans in
the county]. A lot of them were overdue and caught in the maw of
We did a deed restriction around Centennial Airport — that you
can’t put single-family residences in Dove Valley, ever. Centennial
will now be there forever, as long as they fly airplanes.
They wanted to do a $740 million property-tax increase to build
a bunch of judicial facilities the county didn’t need. There was
silence in the room. I looked up and said it’s not going to happen
— and it didn’t happen. We moved things around, but we did it for
Governments love to build their own fiefdoms. They love to build
and build and build and solve and solve and solve problems.
Governments take on a life of their own. I always hated that.
CCN: What are you most proud of as a state senator?
Dyer: We kept the death penalty, number one.
I wrote and sponsored the preemption law, which means every
little city and ’burb in the state can’t have its own version of
the Second Amendment. You could drive from here into Denver and
cross through four jurisdictions and every one could have a
different law about carrying guns.
CCN: Which level of government did you prefer?
Dyer: At the state level, you’re involved in a lot of public
debate. The stronger the debate, the more well prepared you have to
be. At the same time, you’re only one of 100 people.
As a county commissioner, you have quasi-judicial, legislative
and administrative authority. You get things done and the media’s
not in your face every day. A commissioner in Arapahoe County, in
my opinion, has more authority to make a bigger difference in the
state than the governor can.
CCN: Any regrets?
Dyer: No, none at all.
CCN: Not one regret in an entire decade?
Dyer: In the Legislature, you don’t get the privilege of having
everything your way all the time. I voted for a transportation
funding bill I didn’t like. It involved tax money and and
multi-modal transportation. I want to see more money spent on lane
miles for people driving cars than I do for bike paths. That’s a
CCN: You’ve never liked public transportation, have you?
Dyer: No. You probably like it because somebody’s paying 95
percent of the cost of your ride. Everybody who drives to work is
paying for their ride and yours. The operating cost is
CCN: Have you ever taken light rail?
Dyer: No. I can’t vote against things, argue against them and
then go and get on it and have taxpayers pay my way downtown
CCN: The five-member board of commissions consists of three
Republicans and two Democrats, but the three Republicans haven’t
always voted as a united majority. Did that frustrate you?
Dyer: If you want your policies to go forward — I’m quoting
[19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin] Disraeli now —
you’ve got to be in the majority and you’ve got to act like a
One of my big fears was that if we ever had a Democrat majority
in the county commission, they would invite unions in. I can’t
think of anything worse with the expense and the conflict you’re
going to create.
CCN: Have you always been a Republican?
CCN: Are your daughters all good Republicans?
Dyer: No (sighs). My eldest daughter is a very strong
Republican. My No. 2 daughter voted for Bill Clinton for reasons
that are beyond me. Of all people, I thought my youngest daughter
had been educated right. Somebody called me and said, “I just saw
her Facebook thing and her most admired person was Nancy
There are a number of Democrats I have a lot of admiration for,
but Nancy Pelosi is not one of them (laughs).
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