06-21-16 Op-Ed: from CO House District 64 Candidate Kimmi Lewis…

Kimmi Lewis for CO House District 64 logoKimmi Lewis for District 64 voteWhy I Am Running for Colorado House District 64 – Freedom Fighter

Everywhere I go in Eastern Colorado people ask the question, “Why are you running for HD 64”?   This is why I am running and why I’m labeled a Freedom Fighter:

  1. During the past ten years, we have been fighting to save our private property here in Eastern Colorado.  In 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) announced it was going to break its promise with the people of this region and expand Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) to absorb 2.5 million acres of southeastern Colorado, virtually the whole corner of the state.  In fact, the DOD had already broken two other promises it made to the ranchers.  In 1983, the DOD said it would never expand the Army base, never use live fire during training operations, and our county and schools would receive PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) payments in full.  Yes, all three promises have been broken.  The DOD fully intended to use eminent domain to take more land.  Several different groups of people fought this proposed expansion and takings.  My role in stopping the PCMS expansion was reported in the Winter 2007 issue of Range Magazine and the Summer 2009 issue of Living Cowboy Ethics, The Journal of the Paragon Foundation, Inc.
  2. In 2013, I first learned that the National Park Service (NPS) and its partners were proposing to establish a National Heritage Area (NHA) in the seven-county region of southeastern Colorado (six of the seven counties are in HD 64).  The primary non-governmental organization pushing the NHA was Canyons & Plains of Southeast Colorado.  Upon researching NHAs, we learned that Canyons & Plains would become an unelected “managing entity,” who would partner with the NPS to receive substantial federal funds and would implement a NPS land use management plan within the boundaries of the proposed NHA.  We quickly organized the Southeast Colorado Private Property Rights Council (SECPPRC) in 2014 and began to fight for our freedom and to keep our land from having the NPS over the top of us, telling us private property owners and taxpayers what we can or cannot do with our property.  The proposed NHA was stopped solely through the volunteer efforts of numerous freedom fighters.
  3. In 2015, we learned that ranchers in Las Animas County were “mapped in” once again, but this time in an NPS Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF), which was submitted to the NPS by a non-governmental group called Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI).  The map included a million acres of land encompassing ranches south of La Junta, east of Walsenburg and Trinidad, north of the New Mexico state line, and west of Kim.  The MPDF is titled, “Homesteading and Ranching Resources of the Purgatoire River Region, Colorado,” and was being used as “additional context” for CPI’s plan to list hundreds of historic homesteads (private property) on the NPS National Register of Historic Places.  CPI was already nominating homesteads for listing on the National Register without notice to or consent from the landowners!  Once again, SECPPRC sprang into action and we stopped the MPDF from being approved by and housed within the NPS, including saving two homesteads from being listed on the National Register.  Historic preservation should require landowner approval and groups like CPI need to respect private property rights.
  4. Last year, I also led an effort to prevent the unlawful establishment of a metropolitan district in Bent County, which was a private property rights fight that many people told me was not winnable.  A group of people in Bent County proposed to establish a metropolitan district for the purpose of levying a new tax on a majority of the landowners in Bent County.  The funds would be used to help fund a museum, several historic initiatives, and the recreation board in the city of Las Animas.  This new taxing district would have been in place forever, and the tax funds would have been used by unelected boards.  We formed a new group called Citizens Opposing the Bent Metropolitan District and forty Bent County landowners/taxpayers stopped the formation of the metropolitan district.  SECPPRC and the Colorado Independent CattleGrower’s Association also helped fund this effort.

After years of fighting to protect private property rights, I felt I was ready to use my experience to engage in these issues at the next level.  As you can see, all of these “takings” were within HD 64.  Where was our State Representative the past four years?  I hope you will support me in my bid for HD 64, as I believe that the people of Eastern Colorado are what makes this area unique.  We are a tough bunch, strong willed and gritty.  I grew up here and have lived in Eastern Colorado my entire life.  I’m a lifelong Republican and a true freedom fighter.  So, I ask all of you, the freedom fighters of HD 64, to vote for me on or before June 28th.

God Bless You,

Kimmi Lewis

Candidate HD 64