Last Thursday evening, candidates for Kiowa County Treasurer and Kiowa County Commissioner District 2 met at the Crow Luther Cultural Events Center for the first ever (at least, in anyone’s memory) candidates’ forum. The bi-partisan event was conceived and organized by Dawn James, Secretary of the Kiowa County Republican Party, and Katie Kopasz, Kiowa County Chairperson for the Democratic Party.
The purpose of the forum was to give each of the candidates the opportunity to directly address the crowd of voters who had gathered to hear their views on specific issues.
The evening started with a short summary of the ballot issues by former State Senator Greg Brophy (see accompanying article Brophy Briefs on Ballot Issues), after which candidates for the office of Treasurer, Diana Pearcey Flory and Kayla Murdock, took the stage. They were followed by Howard “Butch” Robertson and incumbent Cindy McLoud, candidates for Commissioner District 2.
Betsy Barnett, publisher of the Kiowa County Independent, served as moderator for the event, laying out the schedule for the evening. Candidates would be given 5 minutes to make an introductory speech followed by a question/answer period with questions jointly prepared by Kopasz and James. Amber Kopasz, a sophomore at Eads High School, served as timekeeper. At the end of the question/answer segment, candidates would be allowed to make closing remarks.
Diana Pearcey Flory was first up to make her introductory remarks. Flory, who is the Republican candidate for the position, discussed her family roots which go back to when her grandparents homesteaded in the area. She grew up in Eads and, upon graduating from Eads High School in 1985, attended the Pueblo College of Business where she got her Associate’s Degree. She then went to work for Navigators in Colorado Springs in the accounts receivable department. In 1990, Flory married her husband, Ken, whose job with Lockheed Martin took them to Orlando, Florida, where they remained for 26 years. During these years, Flory worked for Avnet, a Fortune 500 company, with duties that included controlled expenses, reviews of monthly profits and losses, reconciliation of outstanding accounts and collection of unearned discounts. Her position also required her to work with various departments, managers and customers to resolve financial discrepancies, resulting in the company recovering “millions of dollars that would have otherwise been a loss”. Tired of “the grind of the big city”, the couple moved back to Eads where they’re committed to being active in the community and “making a difference”. Should she be elected, Flory promises to bring integrity and a strong work ethic to the position.
Kayla Murdock, who is running as an Independent, discussed being a fourth generation Kiowa County who left “long enough to get a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Adams State College”. Murdock and husband, Brandon, returned to Kiowa County after the birth of their first son in order to provide him with “the same safe and caring community we grew up with”. The couple has successfully started, owned and operated Murdock Hauling for over 13 years, and she promises to apply the same personal commitment and work ethic to being County Treasurer and Public Trustee. Murdock summarized her work history, starting at the age of 13 at the local café where she learned the value of customer service and a “listening ear”. While obtaining her Associates, Murdock worked as an operations manager for an electrical company on the Western Slope where she problem solved, multi-tasked, developed team work schedules and created processes “to cut costs and improve work flow through new forms and accounting procedures”. As a business owner, she’s handled bookkeeping, accounting and payroll; in her subsequent position with the Independent, she taught herself new software programs and met deadlines, skills which, she says, directly translate to a treasurer’s position. If elected, she promises to bring all these skills plus “an energetic, determined work ethic” to the office.
Introductory speeches were followed by questions for the candidates.
Questions for those running for Treasurer (comments were edited to allow for space requirements):
Q1: Other than previous job experience, do you have any life experiences that might make you better in this position?
Murdock: Every day is an experience, and you have to roll with it as it comes. My day to day experience in running a business requires me to do that. You also have to overcome some experiences that are hard to deal with, and, like with the loss of my sister, I’ve had to do that. But you always have to overcome. I’d also like to go over some of my qualifications…I want to make this job my career. This is what I worked for to get my degree. I have 13 years of accounting experience and a wide range of technology and problem solving skills. I’m hooked into technology all the time, and I love to research.
Flory: One life experience is us moving to Florida. It was hard to move away from our family, but that’s what we had to do. It was hard to be gone, especially with things going on in the family like if someone got sick, but we had to be strong. We also worked a lot of hours, and, so, I feel like that was one of the biggest things for us—being away from our family. It’s hard to be away, but you go where the job is, so that is what we had to do. But that was also where I learned a lot of things at Avnet. I’m a quick learner. I remember things well, and I’m very computer literate. I think that helps, especially in rural communities. I’m also very positive and have good people skills and working with people in the courthouse. Working as part of a team is very important.
Q2: With the advancement of technology, how would you improve the business practices in the Treasurer’s office?
Flory: Learning the software that’s required by the state, working with it and I’ll excel at that. Also, if there are some things that are still manual, we could possibly put that in Excel, put it on a spreadsheet, track it, sort it and try to make things a little bit easier. But, if you’re up to date on the computer environment, that’s instrumental to being successful in the job.
Murdock: Technology is amazing, and I advance with it. I always have. I currently use Word, Excel and Quickbooks. The software is from the state and follows the state statutes, and it changes constantly because every time a new tax increase comes in, they have to update it. The website now where you can currently pay taxes online, I would like to make that more accessible. I believe in transparency and would provide ledgers to the county showing productivity.