Kevin Kuns had heard from colleagues and friends over the past several years that a run for elected office would be right in his wheelhouse. He had the behind-the-scenes campaign experience and political knowledge as chair of the Montrose County Democrats.

The decision to run took some thought for Kuns, who felt his campaign work at the local and state levels were strong and was comfortable in the position.

But the last five years sparked a change. The political landscape, which he says has become divisive and polarizing, swayed him to enter the arena: he will be a Democratic candidate on the June 28 primary ballot for Colorado House District 58. Marc Catlin, a Montrose Republican, is the incumbent and lone GOP candidate.

“I want to bring respect back to politics,” Kuns said. “I want it to be so that people believe you really actually care about what they’re saying, even if we don’t agree on everything.”

Kuns has spent the last eight years in Montrose and is chairman of the Montrose Democratic Party. He was a member of the Montrose County Commissioners Advisory Committee and board member of the Gayle Clarke Memorial Scholarship. He is a board member and vice president of the Western Colorado Alliance and spent 25 years in corporate management before becoming a business owner.

His additional experience includes acting as a campaign surrogate for Attorney General Phil Weiser and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, both of whom are Democrats, and three years as a regional political organizer. He has received campaign endorsements from Weiser, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and James Iacino, the Democrats’ 3rd Congressional District chairman.

His community and political work bolster his candidacy, he said, as does his willingness to serve the people of House District 58, regardless of party affiliation.

“If I’m elected and there’s a bill that is sponsored by a Democrat and it’s not in the best interest of House District 58, I’m going to vote no on it,” Kuns said, “and if a Republican from El Paso County sponsors a great bill for HD 58, I’m going to vote yes on it. I’m not going to worry about any pressure from my caucus.”

He doesn’t have any experience in an elected office and is embarking on his first campaign for such a role. But his involvement politically at the state and local levels over the past several years, community outreach in Montrose and business experience gives him a well-rounded background to be the representative for House District 58, he said.

“I know how to collaborate, compromise, communicate and listen. I think that’s important,” Kuns said. “To me, you have to look at the person over party and be a politician that’s always going to be concerned about the best interests of everybody.”

Kuns said, if elected, he wants to advocate for solutions to affordable housing, water and drought and public education — the politics behind school board elections and education itself detracts the focus from students, who should learn “truthful American history” in the classroom, he said.

Kuns added Montrose could learn about a potential affordable housing solution from the planned modular home factory in Grand Junction. The factory will mass produce preassembled homes and has the support of Gov. Jared Polis.

Forest management, fire mitigation and agriculture are another three sectors Kuns said he is eager to address. He believes Colorado could transition away from fossil fuels and find affordable options for clean, renewable energy.

He also wants Colorado to maintain its status as a leader in fair elections with easy access for voters and get rid of avenues for voter intimidation.

“There’s a lot on the plate. That’s why I want to be at the table,” Kuns said. “I want to have a voice at the table.

“… People need to look at me not as Kevin Kuns the Democrat but Kevin Kuns the person.”

Kuns said he believes change should start at the local level and work its way up, which is why he is campaigning for a voice in Denver rather than a location such as Washington D.C.

He added, despite redistricting, that he remains in a strong position to represent each county in House District 58 — he has worked closely with officials in Gunnison County for the past year, is familiar with Delta County’s officials and the North Fork area and has been engaged with Ouray and Hinsdale counties.

Kuns said he plans to travel around different communities within House District 58 this summer and meet with Democrats and Republicans. He has set meetings with leaders in Montezuma County to better understand water challenges in the area, which Kuns said are different in the Four Corners region compared to Montrose, Gunnison and San Miguel counties.

“Freedom for all, not just freedom for a few,” Kuns said. “That’s my message. The Constitution and freedom and our rights is not a smorgasbord — you can’t choose what you like or don’t like or what you respect or don’t respect. I’m going to be a voice for everybody’s freedom. I care about your wellbeing and your freedom.”

His campaign kickoff is slated for July 7.

Montrose Daily Press (icon)Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.
Montrose Daily Press | June 7, 2022
  View original article