Lone Tree's city council has traditionally functioned in harmony, typically recording unanimous votes as it makes decisions for a community dealing with fast economic and residential growth. That unanimity has changed with the addition of its newest councilmember, Kim Monson.
Monson often votes in opposition to her fellow councilmembers, frequently citing concerns about issues outside the city limits and referencing the Constitution and other U.S. founding documents. She joined the council in an uncontested May 2012 election, replacing term-limited Sharon Van Ramshorst.
Monson says she represents the best interests of Lone Tree's residents and stands by her belief in limited, fiscally responsible government.
“My guiding principle is that we treat people fairly and equally,” said Monson, a 30-year resident of Lone Tree's Charter neighborhood.
But some fellow councilmembers are frustrated by some of Monson's words and actions, and Van Ramshorst — who recommended Monson for her council seat — now says she regrets her endorsement.
“I do not attend council meetings on a regular basis because I feel so badly that the person I recommended to take my seat has not performed like I expected,” she said. “It appears to me she has confused the issues of the federal government with the City of Lone Tree. You can't try to make a point on federal issues by adversely affecting the community you're supposed to be representing.”
“I think we've realized a lot of votes will be 4-1 because there's no way she'll change her mind on anything; she's steadfast in her thoughts,” Councilmember Harold Anderson said. “Four votes are certainly more than enough to pass something, but I would really like to see us work as a team.”
On March 17, Monson voted against approving an intergovernmental cost-sharing agreement with Douglas County for construction of the Southeast Light Rail Extension. Douglas County's payment is among $40 million in local matches that will be combined with RTD funds and a $92 million federal grant to cover the project's $207 million total cost.
“Federal dollars should not be used regionally,” Monson said. “I just don't think it's fair for people in other states who will never ride this train.
“The federal deficit is $18.1 trillion. That's $41,000 every man, woman and child owes. And the debt continues to go up. People make important decisions to pass on something better to the next generation. The idea that we're going to pass on a big fat IOU breaks my heart.”
Other councilmembers pointed out that refusing the federal grant won't make a dent in the federal deficit. The grant would instead go to another community.
“We all feel concerned about the federal debt,” said Jackie Millet, mayor pro tem. “But not doing the right thing for our community isn't going to solve that. My job is to keep up property values in my community, and hopefully elect leaders who can move the needle on the federal debt.”
Mayor Jim Gunning pointed out that Lone Tree residents approved annexing into RTD for the extension in 2003.
“Our voters already voted yes on this transit project,” he said. “Why would we want to give that away?”
Monson said she's concerned Lone Tree would be held financially liable for the project if the economy falters.
She also recently expressed concern that email lists used for Lone Tree's Living and Aging Well seniors' group, a grassroots committee supported by city staff, could be used for political purposes.
“Governmental entities need to be neutral,” Monson said. “This committee has done a lot of really great work. (But) conceivably, the city could be supporting data collection by a non-city entity, and ultimately, that information could be used for political purposes.”
Living and Aging Well committee members, who include Van Ramshorst, said they felt insulted by Monson's suggestion.
“It questions our integrity,” said committee member Joyce Lew.
A committee policy prevents candidates from speaking at the group's monthly lunches.
“The City of Lone Tree has a long history of getting along and respecting each other,” said Councilmember Susan Squyer. “And look what we've done — we've been so successful. Living and Aging Well is a prime example of that.
“It's unfortunate there had to be an attack rather than some real investigation into what's going on.”
Anderson said some residents believe Monson “thinks we're trying to keep her from winning an election.”
Monson said she doesn't know if she will run for any future office. Her council term expires in 2016.
She said it's often hard to stand alone on issues, but she believes she's doing the right thing.
After a particularly difficult meeting, she said, “I went home that night and I had pictures in my mind of people who are looking to me to do what I think is the right thing for them,” she said. “I have to think about them.”
Facts about Kim Monson
• Co-hosts the KLZ 560 AM radio show “Heart of the Matter” with Molly Vogt.
•Self-employed as a clothier and fit specialist with women's clothing company Doncaster.
• Married to Tom Monson; mother of three adult children.
• Retired from a career in investment banking.
• Interviewed in 2014 for House District 44 nomination that was awarded to Acres Green resident Kim Ransom.
• 2012 graduate of Leadership Program of the Rockies, which trains emerging leaders in America's founding principles.