Reading some of the recent news and comments about Jim Surkamp's campaign for re-election to the County Commission, I can't help but reflect upon my own recent experiences.
During my service on the Jefferson County Planning Commission, I was the subject of very serious allegations, specifically "multiple acts of official misconduct, malfeasance in office, incompetence, and neglect of duty."
I found myself the subject of front-page news - none of it flattering. Had I been a candidate for elective office when the allegations against me were made, the media coverage could easily have generated a negative impression in the minds of voters.
Fortunately, I was not only completely exonerated of the false allegations against me, but the individuals who brought the allegations were found liable for malicious prosecution.
The primary election is less than two weeks away, so Jim Surkamp will not have his "day in court" before voters go the polls. This is terribly unfortunate, since some voters might prejudge Jim before his opportunity to refute the charges against him. To any voter tempted jump to a conclusion about Jim, I would cite my own experience as evidence why not to do so.
Here are some facts about Jim Surkamp that are not in dispute:
Jim has been a tireless advocate for County residents who get water from Jefferson Utilities, Inc. (JUI). Jim voted for the County to intervene on the side of residents against JUI's rate increase requests. Jim fought against expensive proposals that would stick JUI rate-payers with even higher water bills. Jim has voted to appoint individuals with regulatory expertise and experience to the County's Public Service District.
Jim voted for long-overdue changes to the office of the County Administrator and the Department of Planning & Zoning. The great improvement in both offices' level of expertise and professionalism may be directly credited to the changes for which Jim voted.
More than any other local official, Jim has practiced regular communication with County residents. He has done this through his regular mass email updates, consistent attendance at dozens of daily/nightly neighborhood meetings and County functions, and frequent postings on local internet forums.
I greatly appreciate the work Jim has done for Jefferson County, and I will vote to re-elect him.