By Kathleen Campbell
Probably no one is more surprised at what has happened over the last decade of Colorado’s Arapahoe County Commissioner Kathleen Conti’s life as Kathleen Conti.
From owning a home-based business in 2007 to being elected as Colroado Arapahoe County Commissioner in 2016, with a six-year, three-term stretch as Colorado State Representative from 2010-2016, her journey has been a wild ride. While fascinating for some, it might warrant a bit of a head tilt for others.
Conti has always considered herself “politically observant,” responding to “Contact your Congressman” pleas and the like. But like many of us, once you experience a Neo moment (from The Matrix), taking the red pill, you start to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Her first “rabbit hole” was a firsthand experience in how small business regulations were killing small business. After she moved past the “This is insane” moment, she became proactive. Believing that education is key to reform, she decided to form an educational non-profit based on free market truths.
Not really knowing how to go about this, in 2009, she attended a Cherry Creek Republican Women’s meeting and was introduced to then-Colorado House Representative David Balmer. After several minutes of explaining her non-profit idea, Balmer interrupted her and asked, “Have you ever considered running for office?”
“When someone that you just met asks a question like that, you have to pause,” Conti said. “In fact, he even suggested the office to run for. I was truly taken aback but it gave me something to think about.”
Listening to the rest of Conti’s journey, I noticed a repeating theme from the moment that she decided to run against a very well-known and well-liked two-term incumbent, Colorado State Representative Joe Rice. That theme continues today.
Confidently and vividly recalling her 2010 campaign, a common thread is woven throughout this beautiful tapestry. Understanding your abilities and your limitations, and knowing or asking where to go for help is vital for any progress and Conti is very open with her “go to” source for help, wisdom and guidance.
From her first consideration to run for Colorado House Representative to her hurdles in receiving the training she felt that she needed, to winning the Republican primary and general election; at every step of the way, Conti asked for help and guidance from God.
“I not only asked, but I asked very specific things from God,” Conti states.
“For example, I knew that I could not run unless I was prepared, so I applied to The Leadership Program School of the Rockies,” she continued. Each applicant needed to be nominated by two people and undergo a panel interview. I was one of more than 225 applicants for 65 open spots. I remember getting on my knees in the parking lot, explaining to God how if I were to run I really needed this training. So, if He would open the door so I could get into this training, fine. If I did not get into the class, I would consider this a clear sign that I was not to run.”
At least four times during my interview with Ms. Conti, she mentioned that she “got on her knees and prayed.”
“Every time there was a decision to move forward in the process, I asked God for His guidance and I asked for specific outcomes. I needed to know that this was something that He wanted,” she said.
Running for political office does not seem to have been a personal aspiration for Conti, but living in a vibrant and personal relationship with God is. To those of the Christian faith, Conti’s story will be well-received, even understood and embraced. For those who do not enjoy that intimacy with God, her journey may sound hokey, or unbelievable.
But this is the wonderful thing about a person’s testimony. It is exclusively that person’s, based on their own experience and faith. Conti attributes her 2010 win and subsequent wins for Colorado House Representative and her 2016 win to Colorado’s Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners to living in harmony with God, praying and listening to the God who created her and loves her.
Our interview ended with Conti sharing, among other things, her excitement about helping to influence drug education policy. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” she said. “If we can just find a way to educate our youth about the real life-and-death issues surrounding drugs, instead of simply treating a drug overdose with another drug, we can change our culture.”
Conti’s political journey started with “education” as her goal and passion. And that has not changed. But now, Kathleen Conti is, a decade later, affecting real change in her community, through policy that is geared toward education.
Some might say, “God moves in mysterious ways.” But it’s clear, in Kathleen Conti’s life, God not only moves, but orchestrates!