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March 27, 2023

EXPERIENCE 108 | John Kefalas - Larimer County Commissioner, Behind the Scenes of a Life of Service

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John Kefalas is currently a Larimer County Commissioner, elected to his second term in 2022, and previously served many years as a Colorado State Representative and later, State Senator.  He previously worked in education, advocacy and outreach, with special emphasis on career development, housing, and serving the underserved and marginalized.

John has a reputation for being one of the most progressive political figures in Northern Colorado, and we spend a lot of time in this episode pulling back the curtain on “how things really work” behind the scenes in government, and respectfully challenging one another’s ideas of “how they should work”.  The get-to-know in this episode goes beyond most you’ll find, and includes a dramatic segment where John shares his challenges faced as a man short in stature. 

So, please enjoy, and thanks for tuning in for my conversation with Larimer County Commissioner, John Kefalas.

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Music By: A Brother's Fountain


John Kafa is currently a LaMer County Commissioner, elected to his second term in 2022, and previously served many years as a Colorado State representative and later state senator. He previously worked in education, advocacy and outreach with special emphasis on career development, housing, and serving the underserved and marginalized. He got his botany degree from Colorado State University, a master's in teaching certificate from Fairley Dickinson University and has continued a life of service to cause that is an to. John has a reputation for being one of the most progressive political figures in Northern Colorado, and we spend a lot of time in this episode pulling back the curtain on how things really work behind the scenes in government and respectfully challenging one another's ideas of how they should work. This Get to Know episode goes beyond most, you'll find, and includes a dramatic segment where John shares his challenges faced as a man of short stature. So please enjoy and thanks for tuning in to my conversation with Literary County Commissioner John Kafa. Welcome back to the Local Experience Podcast. I'm honored today to be joined by LaMer County Commissioner John Kales and, uh, longtime, uh, public servant here in northern Colorado. And so, John, thank you for making time to be here. Uh, I'm very happy to be here, Kurt, and I appreciate the opportunity. Yeah. So, um, I think the obvious first question is, is what do county commissioners do anyway? and I know you can't, I some it always at all, but Well, yeah, that's, that's an important question and a lot of times folks don't know, but to answer your question, so there are. County Commissioners, LAER County Commissioners in Colorado, there are 64 counties. Okay. Um, the, the ones that most populated, of course, along the front range. Right. So 64 counties, most of the counties have three commissioners. There are some that have five commissioners. But in terms of what we do, we do a variety of things. It's kind of interesting. I've learned since being a commissioner, and I just started my second term. Well, one thing that's important for folks to know is that we are elected at large. So even though you have to live in a particular district, there are three districts, three commissioners. So for example, I live in district one. Okay. Which is in the northern one third of the county. So from Drake Road in town in Fort Collins. Okay. All the way up to the Wyoming border, all the way west to Jackson County. Gotcha. You know Cameron Pass? Yep. And then all the way east out to Weld County. So you have to live in the district, but when you're up for election or perhaps reelection, then it's at large. So the whole county votes. Exactly. Oh, that's fascinating. So that's how it works. In terms of what we do. I mean, we, we dabble in all three branches of government, and I think that's important for folks to understand. So we, the executive branch, of course at the state level will be the governor and all that. Sure. But we serve as, um, As the executive branch because we oversee the county budget. Mm-hmm. Almost like the governor's arm in Right. This county. Yeah. Yeah. In some ways. Absolutely. So we oversee the budget of the various departments and service service areas, and then we also serve in the legislative branch because we deal with policy issues. Mm-hmm. And then finally we serve in the judicial or quasi-judicial realm because when we have land use hearings, Then we're supposed to, um, you know, not have what's called ex parte communication. In other words, like a judge, we have to stay focused on the hearing and all the information that's received. So we dabble in all three branches of government. We oversee the budget. Uh, we work on policy like affordable housing, childcare, you know, the bread and butter issues that are facing a lot of us. And, uh, we also make land use decisions. Mm-hmm. we update our land use code and so forth. Are you, on the executive side, does like the, the regulatory obligation of business and industry come through your office too in a, in a sort fashion? Uh, yes. And, and that's, you know, the regulatory side, liquor licenses and different things like that? Yes. So liquor licenses ha you know, they, they, um, once they've been approved initially, then typically it's a consent agenda item where an entity, a business wants to renew their liquor license unless there are some issues. But initially when they want to apply for a liquor license, they actually, we have a hearing, uh, and, and the applicants come to us. We have our, our attorney there, and we go through a pretty formal process. And generally we approve folks that they've met all the criteria from the state. Hmm. So, yes, we do oversee things like that. And then when it comes to, uh, land use code and building code, uh, you know, ultimately if those things come to the commissioners for a hearing, we make decisions on that as well. And that certainly can impact, uh, businesses. And I can give you, you know, lots of examples. I'm sure. Well, I just, uh, we're kind of getting into current events with this question, but I just saw that Los Angeles City or county banned all oil production inside the county, and I was shocked at how much oil production there actually was. There's lots of old grasshoppers still steadily pumping away over there. Um, would that be a county level thing? Is it county of Los Angeles in that kind of space? Uh, good question Kurt. Very good question. And so, the legislature back in 2019 passed a bill, senate bill, 19 dash 180 1 in the state Senate. And essentially what that bill did among other things, is it gave local jurisdictions, counties much more authority, you know, to create their own local or countywide, uh, oil and gas regulations. So since that occurred, prior to that, we didn't really have any oil and gas regulations in Lamber County. So to your question, we do now, we've gone through a process over the last couple of years, and we do have this had granted rights in that space of sorts. Yes. But we have, within our land use code, which is the regulatory authority that we have, um, uh, there is a, there is a section in there that deals with oil and gas development. Hmm. And so if there's, um, a, a business or an operator that wishes to, uh, do a new oil and gas development, they have to go through the county process, submit an application, and ultimately if there're to be approved, there are a lot of review criteria and all of that. So yeah. That's an example of, uh, the county's involvement in, in regulations that were updated since 2019. And they are in place, for example, like what's happening right now. You speak of current events. Uh, one of the proposed oil and gas developments that is being considered in the town on the east side of Loveland. Okay. Uh, um, west of I 25, the MCs. Mm-hmm. uh, they have a proposal for an oil and gas development. Mm. But because that is in the town limits of Loveland, we don't have, uh, direct say over that. Oh. And, and right now Loveland doesn't really have, I think they're developing their oil and gas reg, so they're kind of in the middle of all that. Yeah. Yeah. I hope that that responses to your question. No, I think so. I think so. Another thing I was thinking about as far as current events is. The carriage house and the accessory dwelling units and stuff that was here in, in local Numer County. When you say land use, that's kind of the big picture stuff, but that seems, seems like that was a city of Fort Collins thing more than it was a county. Yeah. Yes. And, and all, all good observations and all good questions. So the county's jurisdiction primarily is in the unincorporated parts of the county. Gotcha. So where there's a, what's called a gma, a growth management area. Mm-hmm. you know, you know, for example, around the city of Fort Collins, that's why, where there has to be a lot more cooperation, partnership on a variety of issues, including land use issues. So the, the whole, um, discussion debate regarding the, uh, the city of Fort Collins land use code or land development code as they attempted to change it, that was really a local issue. Um, our land use code specifically applies to, uh, land use decisions within the unincorporated area. Yeah. Yeah. If there's, um, a proposal that's within the growth management area, like whether it's Timney or Wellington right. Or the city of Fort Collins, then there has to be, uh, if we're gonna grow into this space, we don't want you to be right. Like, I'm thinking about East Mulberry now, that will be part of the city of Fort Collins eventually, but Larimer County shouldn't necessarily approve buildings and structures and stuff that aren't, that are way far away from what the city's gonna want to have when they get that property in next. Absolutely. And so right now, the East Mulberry corridors, a lot of discussion about, you know, perhaps in phases annexing that property. I mean, right now, if you look at the map, it's kind of a, a puzzle, you know, a puzzle where Yeah, you know, some parts are in, in the county. Uh, and, and then of course some parts are already within the city limits, but I think the long-term goal is for everything out to, um, you know, to I 25 and on the west side of I 25 will be annexed into the city of Fort Collins. And what does that mean? It means a lot of things. It means a lot of new sidewalks out there. Well, new sidewalks, you know, the, there'll be a shift, although it'll have to be cooperation on, on public safety or law enforcement issues. Right. Because right now Oh, sheriff patrol is out there now. Yeah. I mean exactly. I mean, spot on. And, uh, and, and so the, the Fort Collins Police Services would take over those responsibilities, but of course there always has to be collaboration and Right. And all of that. And, and even, of course, I'm sure one of the, uh, issues that people are thinking about is if you're in the city, then you're paying the city sales tax. If you're in the county, you're not paying the city sales tax. Yeah. Yeah. When I got engaged years ago, I used to live down in, uh, Greenview court, I think, or something like that, south Fort Collins. And that was a little pocket of county. And the lady was like, here, let me help you out. I'll, I'll deliver this to you and save you 200 bucks. And your engagement rings. Tax or maybe not that much, but I know something significant and yeah. You know, good, good for her to be observational of that, I guess. Yes. And you're bringing up a lot of really important stuff and, and there's definitely a lot of interplay or inter, you know, intersection between what the, the municipalities do. There are eight municipalities, either holy or in part within Larimer County. I think currently the population of Larimer County is about 370,000 folks. Mm-hmm. and I think a little around 50% of those folks are in the city of Fort Collins. Right, right. And indeed that's part of the county. But again, the city has the direct jurisdiction over land use stuff within the city, you know, in a variety of other things in the growth management area. We gotta work together for sure. So I wanna go a little bit more macro right away with, um, there's 54 counties and there's county commissioners at all. Do, is there a connection between all those counties that are outside of. Like the governor's office or things like that? I mean, do you have your own little secret meetings off to the side or, or how's that work? Well, if, if I may, um, um, in terms of the number of counties within the state of Colorado, it's actually 64. 64, I'm sorry, 64 counties. And it's interesting cuz you, for example, you've got, um, and I will get to your question. I That's fine. I sometimes I digress. I say squirrels, I'm a world class squi chaser, but you gotta bring me back. You gotta bring me back. I will. That's my job. Of course. But, um, just as an example, so Laer County is, you know, is one of the fastest growing counties and we know all the implications of that. We can get into that if you'd like. And we have about 370,000 folks. Uh, and then you, to the west is Jackson County. Right? Jackson County has about 1500 folks. Right. And 900 of them are in Walden. Well, 900 of them are in or something like that. Right. Um, but so 64 counties, and to your question, there is, um, nothing is in secret, you know, uh, other than executive sessions and things of that nature, you know, all the meetings that the county does, the other counties do, you know, have to be in a public setting, you know, for all the reasons. But there is a, there are two statewide associations, uh, that actually represent the interests of the counties, uh, primarily at the, uh, state level in the legislature. Mm-hmm. And you know, right now the legislature is in session. It's, it's fast and furious. So there is something called cci. Or Colorado County's Inc. And that's a statewide association. Okay. You know, like most entities, they have, you know, the city of Fort Collins, for example, has the color is part of the Colorado Municipal League. The counties, most of them are part of Colorado Counties, Inc. Cci, and they, they have lobbyists, they have staff, we pay dues, et cetera. But ultimately, they represent the interests of, uh, the counties with regard to legislation that's being introduced. And that could be become law. There's also another statewide group that's newer in the last five or six years, uh, that's called the, the acronym is c a, uh, C C A T. And that stands for Commission, counties and Commissioners Acting Together. Mm-hmm. So two statewide organizations. And they primarily represent, you know, the, in our interest at the state level with regards to legislation and all of that. Well, and like, who are the enemies of the counties in terms of rep, who are you pushing against? Is it cities like being kind of too big for their britches kind of thing and thinking they can push you guys around? Or is it the state that's trying to make you do things that they don't give you any money to try to accomplish? Like what are those kind of friction points that you're advocating for? I, I would submit that it's all of that. But for example, when you, um, You cited the state re trying to make us do things or requiring unfunded mandates. Yeah. Everybody looks unfunded. The mandates, that's the, yeah. And, and there's that. And so that's, that's Or funded mandates. Right. These are better. Well, but, but even there, you know, one of the things that I'm learning through the lens of county commissioner, cuz as you know, and perhaps some of your, the listeners know, I served 12 years in the state legislature Yeah. In the house and in the Senate. So you have various lenses now I have a county commissioner lens and things like unfunded mandates, uh, issues like, um, local control. Yeah. Those resonate a lot. And so oftentimes there are well-meaning bills that are, um, undermining local control. And, and that's, that's an example of a serious friction point. I mean, and let me put some words into your mouth Okay. Because I've heard you talk before Oh dear. And say basically that, you know, my beliefs don't necessarily align here, but the people that I represent, the people in my district believe this way. And so that's why I'm supporting this thing. And so what I, I'm jumping ahead, but I think what I hear you saying is now my job as county commissioner, I'm here to represent local control and local interests for my districts and my people. And so my job in some ways is quite a bit different than when I was in the, the state with representatives thing. That was a different role. Yes. And I would say that's an accurate, um, assessment or observation and, and. Any person who's elected to public office, uh, you know, you have, um, you, you win by a certain majority and then some people think, well, then you only represent the interests of the people who voted for you. Yeah. You know, sometimes I'll have folks come up to me and they're asking me for something, you know, and it's appropriate and all of that. It, um, uh, and they'll say, well, and I voted for you and and I'd like to remind folks that I hope you can believe this. It doesn't matter. I mean, ultimately we get elected. We get elected by a majority. Not everyone votes for you, but in the end, if you're going to be, um, an authentic, uh, public servant, the elected person, you gotta try to represent the interest of everyone. Yeah. And that's not easy. You know, there's, you know, you try to find some middle ground, you try to find some compromise. But in the end, certainly as a county commissioner, I want to represent the interests of folks, you know, at the state level. Cuz there are all these bills that, that even though they might have good intentions there, there's, there's tons of, uh, you know, we call you're kind of a student of unintended consequences as well. Well, yes, yes. And, and, and when I was in the legislature, I, I tried really hard. Sometimes you can't prevent it a hundred percent, but you, if you're a good policy maker, whether at the county level or at the state level, or certainly at the federal level, you, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Um, and, and is there a role for government? And are, are you addressing, are you considering any potential unintended consequences? Yeah, I like it. I like it. Um, I think we can talk a lot more about evolution of thought and, and philosophies and things like that, but it might actually be grounding to jump in the time machine and go back to young John third grade or wherever. Where'd you come from? Are you Northern Colorado Native? Uh, the old time machine, eh? Yeah, we have one here. Back, back, back, back to the future. Um, so, uh, thank you and I appreciate this is, uh, this is a fun conversation that we're having and I hope it's informative for folks, but, so basically, I, I'm not a Colorado native. Um, I actually grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Oh, wow. I was born, um, in, in Greece. Oh, wow. Uh, um, you know, my family's first generation, it's a long story. You don't need to necessarily hear about why I was born there, but ultimately I grew up, most of my, you know, growing up years were in, in, in Brooklyn, New York. I'd like to hear the, the, the short story, the Cliff notes version. At least my wife and I have traveled Greece. Uh, really? Where, where is Pieros? Well, so if you'd have ever taken the ferries, and I'm one eighth Greek, by the way. Really interesting. One of my grandfather, great-grandfathers, was adopted through Lutheran Social Services as an orphan. Interesting. Yeah. Well, so my parents first generation Greek immigrants, my father came over in the thirties. They're, um, from an, we're from an island that's called Heos, which is very close to Turkey. It's, um, yeah, about 10 miles away. It's in the northeastern part of the Eugene. It's a really amazing place. I've been to Ephesus. Oh yes. I, so it's actually close to there. I reckon. You spot on? Yes. Um, Samos is closer to Ephesus, but we're just north there. Yeah. Um, but very close to the Turkish Street. Those rugs in the lobby. Uh, the one in the bathroom and the one in the, in the lobby are from a Turkish and, uh, a rug maker. And my wife and I, when we went there the first time, bought one and then he runs around the country once every five years or something, selling rugs. And he always calls when he is coming through town. Yeah. Anyway, I digress. Oh, that's, gosh, I wanna hear about your family coming here in the thirties. Was that like strife in Greece that led to that or, you know, like a lot of, you know, folks in those days, they come for more economic opportunity and all that. So my father came over, he was, um, he barely had, excuse me. a high school diploma, and ultimately he got his US citizenship by serving four years in World War ii. Hmm. So he served in World War ii, uh, most of his life. He didn't have a whole, you know, college education. I was the, uh, you know, I was the first one to go to college and graduate. Mm-hmm. I have two siblings, I'm the oldest and so on. So he worked mostly in the diners. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, if you know what diners are Sure. And, and in the restaurant business. And, and, um, and then he met my mother. They got married, and then she decided to go back to the old country. Oh. And that's why I was born there. Okay. Otherwise, I should have been born in Brooklyn. Are you a dual citizen? I was a dual citizen for the longest time, but I, and I'm a naturalized citizen, but you know, US citizen of course. So that's why I was born there. But I have a lot of connections there. A lot of family. My younger, my younger sister, she married a Greek fellow and they live in Athens, for example. Okay. Um, so is your mother, was she from Greece too? Yeah. Yep, she was. Okay. Yeah. We're about as Greek as they come. Yeah. Yeah. And if you've ever watched the movie, uh, my Big Fat Greek wedding, sure. What I often tell folks that, uh, 98% of that is accurate and I can relate to all that. And that's my family. That looks like my, my mom's aunt. I had a, I had a Yaya, I had a grandmother like that. Um, Uh, and so on. So a lot of connections with Greece and, and that's part of my heritage. Yeah. And, and that, you know, that's part of my journey. Um, and I try to go back periodically when I can to visit. Very cool. And, and to go to the island of Heos. So, uh, for what it's worth, uh huh. Very early in my career, SPI Palmer was one of the most encouraging men in my world. Like in my second or third year of banking, he kind of took a shine to me and really encouraged me to become wise. And he would just always talk about smart things. And I know his boys and stuff like that too, still. Yeah. And he's a good friend in his family. And then of course, uh, you must know, uh, the owner of Tony's and the whiskey, uh, Tony Kapo. I don't, but he should be a guest on the podcast. One these Yeah. You think about that. So his wife Angela, passed away a number about five years ago, and Okay. He's still struggling with that, but his, I'm sorry, his son owns, I think, you know, Tony's bar, and then I go to the whiskey once in a while. Yeah. I, I, Tony's, I used to, but I'm a little I, I'm a little responsible for that now. I need to go to there, but I haven't. Uh, nevertheless, they're, they're good people and, and they have a, a good history here. And, you know, they've been contributing members in so many ways. Spirit Bomber Oh, huge. Uh, with his, you know, and how he's built, um, you know, he's been a very successful business person for sure. And he's always given back to the community. And I would, I would offer that that's a key component to being a successful business person. Yeah. Is giving back, you know? Yeah. Is that specifically Greek culture too, or is that more of an American thing? Is there as much, uh, kind of charity and giving back, because we always hear America as the most charitable country. Um, yeah. Well, I would say that for me, a lot of that is coming from my father. Mm-hmm. uh, he, he passed away. Um, he was pretty young cuz he smoked cigarettes for the longest time and that didn't help. Uh, but he passed away in 1982 when he was, I think 67. Wow. Yeah. You know what, what he left with me is he didn't have much, but he would always put others ahead of him. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that, you know, that, um, that really stuck with me. Although I'll, I'll never forget I went back to, after I came back from the Peace Corps, and that's an important part of my journey, um, I decided to pursue my master's degree closer to New York so that I could spend time with him. Mm-hmm. cuz I sort of had a feeling he wasn't gonna be around much longer. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I, I remember that we really made a lot of connections about some of the, the advocacy and the work that I was doing over and since, especially since coming back from my experiences in the Peace Corps. You probably had your eyes open quite a bit by that time. I had my eyes open Oh, quite a bit. And one of the things that left me with my dad, my father, was that he would always say, yeah, I get it. Why you want to try to make the world better and things of that nature. But he said, before you do that you have to have your, you're like this, you have to have your own pot to piss in Um, yeah, no, I've been accused of, of, uh, I have a phrase I've shared for years. Um, ask of your needs and share of your abundance and, uh, been scolded a few times of like, Hey, you need to actually build some abundance before you can share it. Like you're trying so hard to, interesting to give that you need to actually get your own pot to piss in first Well, great. And I think, I think there's a lot of, uh, value and truth to that. Absolutely. Yeah. And you, you can also tell that I'm Greek or Mediterranean cuz I use my hands a lot. Yeah, you're hitting the microphone and stuff. I'll have to try to control that as, I'm gonna have to pour you that whiskey so that you have something to do with your hand, perhaps Um, so I wanna, before we like leave New York and go to Master School and Peace Corps and stuff, I wanna hear about. You as a young man. How many, you said you had two siblings as well? Yeah, so I have my, my, um, both of them are younger. My sister and my brother. There were three of us. Yep. And, and we grew up in New York. And, um, kind of a, uh, was it like a Greek neighborhood even where you had a lot of that? Or is it all mixed and there's, it's, it's Puerto Ricans over here and Mexicans over there and whatever. You're good. I guess you've been around the block a few times, I suppose. You know, I watched TV, had Netflix, but, but you know, it's interesting that, um, you know, it was a very eth, well, I wanna say ethnically diverse neighborhood, but back in, in, when we were growing up, uh, there was a strong Greek community. There were various Greek Orthodox churches. Mm-hmm. you know, in terms of, you know, how it is in, I think, you know how it is in, in, in big cities, you know, there, there are waves of Yeah. The different, yeah. The Irish came at this time, and then the Greeks came at this time. You know, there was a time when it was Scandinavian, Norwegian, Greeks, um, others, you know, and all of them were the European Yeah. Uh, immigrant, popular, the Mediterranean state away from North Dakota where I grew up, because they were like, it's cold over there, Although, but the Norwegians and stuff settled on, although although there is a, um, somewhat vibrant, um, uh, Greek community, for example, out in Meer. Oh, is that right? Because Greeks migrated to white and there's even a really amazing Greek Orthodox church up in Cheyenne. Really? Which you would never think, but I, my understanding is that a lot of Greeks are. Many families migrated out here for sheep to, uh, to raise sheep to do ranching and that kind of work. That makes sense. So, yeah. So like, we're here in New York and New York's kind of busy, kind of lame, nothing like any part of Greece really. And they got sheep country out there. Yep. But no, very diverse. Uh, you know, I grew, I know what delicatessen are. You walk up to the avenue, you go to the fish store to buy the fish, you go to the vegetable store to buy the vegetables. And then over time, a lot of those stores were, um, uh, you know, more people from the Middle East and, you know, moved into the neighborhoods. Uh, certainly people from Asia. So it's changed a lot as, as, as things are over the years. And then, you know, you mentioned, um, um, uh, you know, different, um, uh, ethnic groups like Puerto Rican and so forth. I remember growing up and, and there was some, you know, some ethnic or racial strife that there was a dividing line we lived on where we grew up. We were lucky the first couple of years we lived in an apartment bill, but then my, my father was able to buy this house on an, on a corner lot, like an old, just an amazing house. And we lived on, what, what was called 68th Street and then Second Avenue or Ridge Boulevard, but 65th Street was always considered the quote dividing line and below that where, where, uh, where um, uh, Puerto Rican folks lived. And, and that was an always an interesting tension or dynamic. Yeah, yeah. Oh, so there was some of that growing up. But overall it was an amazing experience. Um, I, I, you know, were you a good student, an athlete, any of those things? Uh, I, I liked, uh, you know, I was like a lot of kids growing up in the, in the city. I liked playing basketball. I know that might be a little surprising, but Yeah. You didn't have a career in the nba? No, although I, I had some friends who I went to, um, uh, junior high school with that ultimately went into the nba. Oh, cool. Yeah, so I, I, I enjoyed sports. I was never much of an athlete. I was good academically. Um, you know, certain things were of, of interest to me. And, you know, I remember cuz there, you know, we have a bus system, so you would take the bus to go to, uh, you know, I, I went to Winland McKinley Junior High School. Yeah. Fort Hamilton High School. Uh, and, and so, uh, public school, PS 1 0 2. So I have a lot of memories of all that. And, and again, growing up in the city or a place like New York, It's different. Um, I'm feeling like you're a really curious guy and wanted to learn a lot and like I was that close from signing up for Peace Corps when I was leaving high school cuz I was so curious about the rest of the world. But I grew up in such a very rural environment. Where, where was that now? Uh, central North Dakota. That's what you were, uh, near Jamestown is where I grew up. And so graduated a class of five. Really didn't have any exposure or I was scared to death when I went to North Dakota State University cuz I'd. barely been to big towns, you know, Wow. And so a lot of contrast, but a lot of curiosity. And so, uh, I suspect that we might have some similar wiring in that space. Uh, yes. And, and, and maybe to fast forward a tiny bit, so I graduated from high school in 1972. Okay. And within the Greek culture, like within a lot of cultures, you don't ask questions. You, you either, you know, find a good job or you go to college. Right? And so I wound up going to City College of New York for a year and a half. Okay. And, um, uh, not really sure why, but I, I did well, but I, I, again, it wasn't really, well if you're not really sure why it's all to do that. Yeah, exactly. So it, it turns out I went for a year and a half, you know, be beyond high school. And then I, um, uh, friends, and it explains why I'm out here in Colorado now for 45 plus years. So I took a, a semester off from college, c n Y and I wound up working in a, uh, fast food place. Um, oh. And so that was an interesting experience. Um, I was in the, the, um, the, the french fries department, and I, you know, there was, back then it was a chain, but it was very different than all the chains, you know. And I remember working with a bunch of old Greek guys, you know, doing fast. How Was it a Euros fast food? No, it was, it was a, you know, it was regular hamburgers and all the rest. So I did that. I saved up money and then, uh, three friends and I and a little dog. We, um, we took a trip out west and we went to Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado to see the Rocky Mountains. Cause we really didn't know much about that. Sure. And I fell in love with the, you know, the Rocky Mountains and, um, there were a lot of adventures there. And, and I remember we were coming out of the Tetons, the Grand Tetons Sure. Up in Wyoming. We, we had just, uh, we were completing, um, a few day backpack trip. And we met, we met up with a, a ranger back country ranger. And I think we might have gotten ticketed because back this was a, you weren't supposed to be there, Well, we had the dog with us. Oh, right. And you know how Yeah, yeah. And that was back in 1974. But we're coming out and he says to us, um, after he noticed the dog, little puppy and all that, have you heard the news? I said, no, we've been, um, you know, we've been in the back country for the last few days. Yeah. And it turns out that was August of 74, right around the time that, uh, Richard Nixon, uh, resigned. Oh. So that was really interesting. Interesting. Yeah. That's when I was born. Actually, it was August of 74. Really? huh. But long story short, I don't remember anything about the Nixon stuff being a big deal at the time. Well, it, anyway, keep going. Please. No, just long story short, uh, I mean, I fell in love with the Rocky Mountains and it actually motivated me, inspired me to go back and, and do better in school. And, and I, I determined that I wanted to be a forest ranger. Why not? Yeah. And, and so I, I went back and I attended a c a community college actually, and I did. Well then I got my GPA and I took all the, you know, all, all the coursework that I think really interested me. Yeah. And then it was time to apply to schools and I actually applied to, um, various schools. But the two that I was accepted to with one was the University of Montana in Missoula. Oh yeah. And the other one was Fort Lewis College in Durango. And, and so I decided to go to, um, Fort Lewis College in Durango. Wow. And I was there for a year, and that was an amazing experience. Um, and then ultimately after a year, I transferred up to csu, Colorado State University, and I started, I completed my bachelor's degree, bachelor of Science in botany at csu 1976 to 1978. Hmm. So I've, I've, um, do you know Phil Murphy? Phil Murphy's my Rotary Club, and I think he, oh, he might've got his education in Alaska, but he served a long time as a forest ranger out here. Is that, is that right? Yeah. Which Rotary Club is that? Uh, the Breakfast Rotary Club. Okay. Thursday mornings at Ginger and Baker at 7:00 AM I, I don't you're interested. I yeah, I, I bet to various, and it's always an interesting interaction and certainly the service clubs do amazing work. The Rotary Club does amazing work. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, well, I'll sell you a ticket for our, uh, 10 K raffle coming up here in a little bit. 10 k raffle as in a running race or no, 10 Uh, 10 K. Like we, oh, 10,000. The winner gets $10,000. Oh yeah. So we sell 500 tickets at a hundred bucks a piece. So we raise 50, give somebody 10, and then, uh, do good work in the community with the other 40. Well, well, we can talk about that offline. I won't put you on the spot right now. So, so you, you get up to, to Fort Collins. And what was the motivation? Was it a better education experience? Just not quite such the boonies, Fort Collins was still already fort fun in those days. It wasn't the latter because I, I, you know, I, I was not, um, you know, I, I didn't, I wasn't a real big party person. I, I actually, in New York, I was a bit of a party person and, and to be honest, uh, full disclosure, that was part of my motivation for, um, get outta there. I get out of Thank you. Yeah. Get, get out of there. I needed to change. And a lot of folks, uh, you know, cuz there were issues with people involved with alcohol and substances and all that and Sure. And, and I was on the periphery of that, but I, I, oh, and that was like not long after Woodstock and different things like that too. Right. You know, it's, it's interesting. Gosh, you were LSD in and all, you don't have to talk about it here. Uh, well, but I actually did ask my parents if I could go to Woodstock 1969, but I was only in junior high school, And they said no, however, However, in 1973 I did go with a friend of mine, and this is when, this might come later, but, um, uh, with a friend of mine to Watkins Glen New York to see a, a, I think it was a, a festival of sorts, but it was, um, the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers band and the band. I mean, it was amazing. Yeah. And we drove from New, cuz back then we were into sports cars. The first car I ever owned was a 1965 mgb. Oh sweet. And this and this, uh, friend of mine, Rick, who uh, wound up working for the post office, he had a 1959 mga and we drove it all the way up to Watkins Glen and, and um, you know, that was an experience I guess. I'm sure. I'm sure. Um, and so let's come bring it back to, uh, csu. You get engaged in the Fort Collins community, get your degree finished up. Um, now did, was the Peace Corps before some of this or after college? It was after. Okay. It was after. So, um, Being in, in Fort Lewis Durango exposed me to the Four Corners area. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. and, and, uh, canyon Country, Utah. And I got started getting involved in environmental kinds of issues. Hmm. And that carried over when I came up to csu. And I was involved in, in various, um, ac, you know, various endeavors. It was like something called Colorado State State University, ssu Eco Core, environmental Core. We used to have a radio program back in the day called Eco Logic Cool. Um, so there were all those kinds of things. Yeah. And, and I think that was really important to me. It helped shape me in my journey. Graduated with my bachelor's degree in, in, um, like I said in May of 78. And, and then I decided I had applied for Peace Corps. And so it was after, and it was, um, February of 1979, when I was accepted originally Peace Corps had said I would go to Africa to what was then known as Zaire. And now is the, uh, democratic Republic of Congo. Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Yeah. So, uh, that they said, no, we we're canceling that because it, it's a little too sketchy right now, It was a little too sketchy right now. And then instead I wound up going to El Salvador, uh, which was even more sketchy. that's what I was gonna say. Exactly. So I, um, and that's where you picked up your Spanish. That's where that's. Uh, yes. Yes, sir. I, that's where I learned my Spanish, you know, my, my native language is Greek. Growing up we spoke Greek. So I actually speak Greek on good days. I speak pretty good English. Yeah. Yeah. And, um, and then Spanish has mostly stayed with me and it's a, it's a good tool to have. It's a gift. Yeah. That's awesome gift. So, yeah. Salvador, and it turns out that, um, when I went in, in February of 79, it was still a, a military dictatorship there. Mm-hmm. a lot of things were starting to happen. And then ultimately they evacuated us out of the country. Wow. So I was only there for about 13 months or so. Um, and, uh, but it was an, it was, it was an amazing, life-changing, transformative experience. And I, as you said earlier, Kurt, it, it, it certainly opened my eyes. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. Um, and then what, what from there did was you done with your pro, cause it was a two year program, typically, did they let you out early cuz you had to get evacuated or you gotta go clean gutters somewhere? yeah. Yeah. Stateside. So I, I came back, uh, in 1980, um, and I had the option of being reassigned. They were looking at having me go to Honduras. Honduras or, uh, Jamaica, hamika and I, I came back to the States and I gave that a lot. A lot of deliberation, a lot of thought, and in the end I decided it would be too difficult to pick up the pieces and start all over again. Hmm. We were doing actually really good work. I worked as an agricultural extensionist. Mm-hmm. and we were doing a lot of things related to, for example, soil and water conservation. Yeah. Uh, I was working at, towards the end when I was informed that, uh, by the way, uh, you have to be out of the country in a week, and nobody ever let me know that. Cause I was five hours away Right. From the Capitol San Salvador. But we were working with a group of women to establish, um, a co-op, uh, where they would raise chickens and sell, you know, sell the product and sell the eggs and all of that. Mm-hmm. and then all of a sudden, you know, things, um, got the way they did. Yeah. And it was getting pretty serious there. There was a lot of violence, um, all all sorts of things. And then there were some Peace Corps volunteers that were working in the, in the city, in the, with people in the market there, the great, the big market mm-hmm. And, and then there were some folks from the left, the fm l n, who came and, you know, took over the market and, um, some of these Peace Corps volunteers were, were held. Mm. Uh, um, so long story short, I, I came back, I decided, um, uh, that what I had seen and experienced that I needed to stay here in, in our country to try to make things, you know, to, to more better here, educate people, to make people aware of, of that. Unfortunately, sometimes, Um, our government is not on the right side of history, and the kinds of, you know, what we supported in Central America. I'm excited to talk about Russia, Ukraine. Well, We'll see how that flows out. Yes. Uh, maybe we'll hit that in the political section later. Um, so what did you go about to do and were you kind of an activist, kind of raising awareness for then? Uh, El Salvador and things? Yes. All, all of that. So when I first came back, I wound up, um, I, I came back here cuz this was, you know, this was my home base. Um, I wanted to, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I had my undergraduate degree and so that's where I wound up going to, um, it's called Fairleigh Dickinson University in, in Teaneck, New Jersey. Okay. And part of the reason I went there was one is cuz it was closer to my dad and it was a good decision. Be for two reasons. One is that, um, I got to spend the last year that he was alive, you know, together. Yeah. And we made a lot of really powerful connections. Yeah. And also my future wife Beth, um, uh, that's where you found her? Well, and, and she actually, we grew up in the same neighborhood together, but we kind of hung out with different groups. And her dad was a Lutheran pastor. Her, her mom was a school teacher, but he had the church, um, a Lutheran church like, you know, two blocks away from white. So she, Greek no, she, I was gonna say not that many Greek Lutherans. Really? No, not that many. But, um, that was one of the things, especially for my mother that she had to get used to. Yeah. Uh, if you ever watch the, um, the, the movie, uh, you, you may have heard the term, well the term, but xenophobic se sure is, is foreign. And, and so typically if you follow the rules, you go to college, you get a good job, you marry, you know, you marry a good Greek woman, you make, you have babies, and then you feed the babies And, uh, and that's your main responsibilities in life, you know. And, and so that didn't quite go according to plan. But before I went back east, um, and, and, and got enrolled in this master's program. I actually worked, um, uh, um, in, in Fort Collins I worked with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Mm-hmm. I was an independent living counselor and that was part of my, um, awareness and regarding people with i d d kind of dataset. And that was that, that's been a, that's been a, a value, a passion of mine that I, you know, through my legislative career, uh, through the work that I've done is, is how do we be more inclusive and people that are dealing with those kinds of cognitive disabilities. Sure. You know, how, how do we help them have meaningful lives and so forth. You know, what kind of support, so that I did that went back east to start the master's program, taught in an inner city school, uh, Elizabeth, New Jersey cuz it was a clinical approach. Spent time with my dad, connected with Beth. Um, uh, and uh, ultimately, much to my surprise, she actually she was game to marry you up and moved back to Colorado. Yeah. And, and you know, oh boy, lots of stories. But even prior to that, if I had picked up on this, I was never really good at, I, I don't know if we need to get into that, but, um, you know, True confections, but the whole relationship thing was a little bit hard for me. Uh, I, I, to be honest, and, uh, I was Was it like lack of confidence, was it? Yeah. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Well, I was scared of death you know, until I was 25. But I mean, uh, I'm sorry, forgive me. I No, go ahead. Well, just that, um, so it was a bit of a surprise that, you know, we, we, we, we courted and, and actually I like to say it was, um, so many stories. It was a package deal because, like me, um, and had I picked up on this prior, she might have come out to Colorado, when, when I first went out there, she wound up, Beth wound up going to Alaska. Hmm. Uh, and, um, uh, she was there with, and eventually she met someone who was a Vietnam, um, war veteran. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. and who was not well, yeah. Uh, but together they had a child. Mm-hmm. And, uh, Harlan is, um, one of, we have two sons, and he's technically my stepson. Sure. Uh, but he, I, you know, we raised him and, um, So, so when, when Beth and I were hooking up in New York there, and, um, she had Harlan, he was like a year old or less Sure. Yeah, yeah. She had to leave because there was a lot of domestic violence and things of that nature. Sure. So it was a package deal. She, I actually had the courage to, uh, pro propose to her. And, um, uh, we did it on a fire escape. Do you know what a fire escape is? Uh, well, I like ladders that go out the side of a building, but I don't know what a fire escape is in the context you're saying here. Well, no, it, it's, it's that, but I mean, it's, it's, you know, in, in place like New York apartment builds. You have fire escapes Sure. People go out, you watch the movies. You said you're a Netflix kind of a guy. Yeah. Um, so anyway, that's where we did it. Um, yeah. The cops chase the criminals up and down the fire escapes and that kind of thing. Exactly, exactly. Kurt Uh, so it, it was a, a bit of a surprise and it, and it felt good, you know, to be affirmed, but she said yes, we got married and then, um, you know, we came back together, three of us, uh, in, in a small U-haul and, you know, we set up shop here and, and, uh, didn't have the mgb anymore. No. Uh, although I have fond memories of, uh, you know, those four cylinder engines, you can just come. Oh, they're good. You can just pull 'em right out. And I remember we used to do work in the backyard and, and you didn't have a winch, so we just kind of had a chain going over a tree. Right. You know, and you pull the engine out and you try to change the s put some new rings in there or whatever. They were air cooled or No, they were liquid cooled. Uh, liquid cooled. Yeah. And I think it sounds like you know a little bit about British cars, but they had the Lucas Electrical Systems. Yes. And they were not known to be a hundred percent reliable They, they talk about the, uh, Bosch electrical systems on the old BMWs and the makers of the world's first intermittent headlight switch instead of a wiper switch. Well, anyhow, I guess we should, I mean, I, we should, we should fast forward a little bit, otherwise we'll be here for three hours. I, I just that, um, so, you know, basically got my master's and I was a, so I've, I've also worked at teacher that was, I mean, that was 18 months or something like that, or, or two years. And, and you really connected with your dad, obviously at a different level. You found Beth and, and her son and made them part of your family Yes. And, uh, moved back out to be part of the world out west. No. Yes. And so my activism, I mean, at that point, Um, 1982, I suppose. My father died June 5th, 1982. Um, you know, I came back to, uh, to Colorado and, uh, started working as a teacher. I actually taught eighth grade science at, uh, bill Reed. Cool. Back then it was Bill Reed Junior High School. And, and, but I was also very, I was, I guess I use the label as activist and I was really focused on, uh, international matters. Yeah. Peace and justice things. And, and so that kind of informed, you know, the, the volunteerism and the activism. And eventually that, you know, the work that I did, I mean, it was everything from being a school teacher, uh, mostly substitute teacher. Um, and, and then I, you know, I, for example, I worked, I started getting into human services. I worked seven years for the county. Mm-hmm. uh, as a, a job training counselor with that risk youth. I worked for Project Selfsufficiency for three years. Oh, you did? As a, as a, yes. As a, I forgot it was even open that long. But Mary, Mary car hair was the, yeah. Was the director. I, I, I worked for Catholic Charities for seven years, so I was doing all that kind of nonprofit work, uh, focusing. I, I realized at some point that the international stuff is terribly important and it helped inform some of the other experiences I had over time. Sure. Uh, I spent, you know, I, I. Gone a number of times as a part of a delegation, for example, to Chopos, Mexico. I got hooked up with an organization that was, uh, building relationships and helping to build schools and clinics in Chopos, Mexico. Oh, yeah. And that back then, the Rotary Club did something with that, with Tracy Mead and John Carroll and different things where they took a bunch of suburbans down there. Yeah. Yep. You might have been part about part of that later or a legacy of that. And, and in those days, you know, the, um, when, when Clinton was president, there was nafta and, and there was you, you probably are aware since you are a student of history and so many other things, uh, the, the whole Zap Batista thing and well, but, but there was, um, a, a lot of pushback because of NAFTA and how it was impacting, you know, in indigenous communities there. Mm-hmm. And so ultimately I was able to go down and as part of the, this organization out of San Diego Square chias, again, building relationships supporting the work that they were doing, but it was always a very, um, tense time because the military was occupying many of the areas and there was, there were some pretty scary moments. Yeah. Talk to me about what, I don't want to go too long, but what was it about NAFTA that like, was really impacting the indigenous peoples? I've, I've come back recently from, uh, Cancun where the, the Mayas are still. you know, there's some sense of almost second class citizens for Mexico in that space, or if you, if you will. Sure. And, uh, but I don't know really the impact on a, on a national or federal level. Well, sure there were a lot of things, but I think the, the, the main thing is that the concerns were that the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement were such that, um, the, the traditional agricultural, uh, methods and the access to the mm-hmm. You know, the access to what was available. Cuz a lot of it is tropical jungles. Uh, there, there were concerns that a lot of that would be cut down all this jungle and make copy plantations that yeah, there were those kinds of issues. And, and again, it was kind of in violation of what, you know, they wanted to live the way they have lived historically. They didn't, not only did they not really wanna be part of Mexico, they certainly didn't wanna be part of the greater world order or whatever. And, and, and it, there was a court, or not just Mexico, but, and there was a Honduras. Yeah, there was a Zap Patista rebellion and there was, um, there was a 1991 perhaps. Um, but ultimately they, they created a whole movement and, and it's mostly been nonviolent, which has been always been very important to me. Yeah. So I guess what I'm trying to get at is that my focus was a lot on international peace and justice kinds of things, but in the meantime, I was starting to realize, That, you know, what happens closer at home, like at the state level with the legislature. Mm-hmm. issues related to homelessness and housing, um, uh, economic development. How do you know, how do folks can get the training and, and overcome the barriers? Like especially single parents and so on and so forth. Mm-hmm. to get jobs and to lead meaningful lives. Yeah. Well enough. So that's where I started to shift a lot of different threads cuz you're got your time with project self-sufficiency with your developmentally disabled people and things like that. And you're like, oh, there's a lot of complex challenges to fix and we can't have 87 bandages. We gotta have a little bit more thoughtfulness in what we do. So Yes. And it's a good way to frame it. Thank you. And, and, uh, I mean ultimately my, my focus shifted a bit, um, still involved in these other kinds of things. I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity to go to places like Nicaragua, um, like Nicaragua and, uh, yeah. Uh, I went back to El Salvador in, in, in 1987 and so on. Thank you Kirk. Yep. Careful. Almost tipped it over. Um, so, but realizing that issues closer to home in our community were really important and that's where I, yeah. I got involved there and it was, um, I. it was 2000, the year 2000 where for the first, for the first time, I start thinking, what about running for public office? Yeah. Because I hadn't, honestly, I really hadn't thought about that. And I gave it some thought for all the, the reasons, but I waited because, um, I just did. Yeah. And then I decided to run for office in, um, 2004, uh, house District 52 back in the day. Okay. And I was unsuccessful. And that's, that's a bit of a story in itself, but, um, uh, so I lost that. The general election. Yeah. There was a primary, I won the primary by nine votes. Yeah. Uh, and, and, and so on. Wow. But anyway, let's actually, um, let's take a short break and then come back to the start of your political career. Okay. If that's okay. Yeah. All right. And so I want to go back to, you mentioned an employment services organization that you worked for, um, immediately before kind of getting into, into government role. But talk to me about, so you, you left kind of the non-profit space, a little or left teaching to get into kind of various non-profit space things. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I worked for various non-profits over the years. I, um, was involved in efforts, for example, You know, they talk about the, you know, issues related to homelessness. Sure. We actually, um, worked with various, uh, uh, partners to establish something called, uh, new Bridges, which was a, oh, one of the first daytime homeless shelters back in the day. Uh, but, but ultimately for various reasons, the best I could do with being a school teacher was as a substitute teacher. Mm-hmm. and, and, um, and I, I guess once again, to be honest, in full disclosure, um, it, I think it's related to my activism and, and some of the things that I was involved in. And, and so the school district made a decision that, um, as far as I could go, would be substitute teaching. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, um, yeah, there's, there's, uh, that no good deed goes unpunished a little bit, and you were a little too visible for their tastes. I remember when, when Facebook first started kind of being a thing and stuff, I was, uh, like a senior vice president at the bank and, and different things. And I just, I've always kind of said whatever I think, and I just, just, cuz I say something doesn't even mean I think it necessarily. Um, but my, one of my friends, well, John Shaw, you've known John forever, probably. He's like, Kurt, does the bank care about all the things you say at your Facebook company? I don't know. I've never given it a thought So, but it definitely could have impacted me in the same way and, and ultimately, So I think it was the summer of 87, I got a temporary job with the county, LaMer County back in the day. Mm-hmm. and I worked as a, I think it was called a community health outreach worker. Okay. And it was working with, um, uh, migrants who were working out in the fields, like the Indian fields mm-hmm. mm-hmm. And we were making sure that the kids had access to, to check their eyes, check their, check their eyes, you know, dental and all of that. So that was a pretty, that was another one of those darn life-changing experiences, And then ultimately that helped me to get a job with LaMer County, and that's where I worked as, um, uh, as a job training counselor and working mostly with at-risk youth. But, you know, back in those days, for example, we used to do a lot of on the job training experiences. And, and I'm really, you know, it's, it's always a, a great thing when those of us who have been around the block, you run into young people that you helped either through project self-sufficiency or the job training and like they're doing really well and they, you know, their kids have grown up and even if they were a single, single parent, they've overcome those barriers. So, yeah. Yeah. Working for the county, uh, working for project self-sufficiency, eventually working for Catholic Charities for, for seven years. Um, and then also, You know, starting to make the shift. I worked for a nonprofit group out outta Denver, uh, but ultimately making the shift to, you know, to run for public office. Yeah, yeah. So talk to me about that first run I had, uh, Tom Lucero on a few months ago, and he said, uh, you know, one thing is you heard it even maybe on the conversation if you either one of the three things is gonna falter your business, your personal life. He was talking about getting divorced actually his first time, or your political role. And I, and I basically responded, you know, well, I'm not really willing for my business or my family to suffer, and so can I just be a half-ass public servant? Is that better than not at all? Um, but it, for me, it was actually the statement that said, maybe it's time to wait. You know, cause I've thought about that, but I don't really want to do one of those three things poorly. Did you feel that same thing? Yeah. I, yes. And, and I think oftentimes people still come to me for advice about running for public office, and one of the first things I I say to them is, if you have, uh, young children, you really need to give it a lot of thought. Mm-hmm. because running for office and then serving, especially at the state legislature, technically you're supposed to be part-time citizen legislators. Right. It can be very. Um, demanding, you know, on your family life, on your children. Yeah. It doesn't pay that much either. And back, back then, the base pay, when I was in the legislature, it's gone up a bit. It was 30 grand a year. Yeah, yeah. And then you would get per diem and all of that. So. And how old were your kids when you Well, they were, they were, so my, my older son, the, you know, my son Harlan? Yeah. He was born in 80, and so he would've been, um, teenager. Oh. So he, yeah. And, and Tim, our, who works at csu, uh, who was a big, that's another story, is, uh, he's a big ultimate Frisbee guy, if you know much about Ultimate. Yeah. I've played a few times. Well, he, he's, uh, he's somewhat, um, what's the word? Near Famous? Near Famous actually. Uh, but if we have time to get into that Fair enough. You'll have to invite me back a sec, a sequel or something. Well, we'll have a fa family segment later here. And so you can talk about the ultimate Frisbee then. That's very cool. Um, in any event, so yeah, I, I think, um, I made that decision. I, I waited, I delayed because in 2000, uh, for that particular house, 52 seat, there was somebody on, on the Democratic side who was running. And I didn't feel like I needed to, you know, compete for that. Yeah. And that person actually was successful. This would've been 2000 and 2002. And then in 2002, that person only served one term. No. Chose not to do it anymore. Well, no, he got beat. He got beat. Oh, okay. And then the person who beat. Is the person, uh, who I ran against that you beat two years later? Well, it, it was actually, so in, in oh four, uh, I announced to run. And, um, and then part ways through that, um, I don't know if you remember back in the day, uh, the mayor, the city of, uh, Fort Collins mayor for 10, bill Burey, uh, he used to run the, uh, CSU Mountain Campus, the uh, uh, up there, uh, okay. Pingry Park. I moved away from like oh two to oh, Uh, seven effectively. Yeah. So he, um, I announced to Ron and under, you know, began the campaign and then in April he announced that he would be running. So we had a primary, oh. And back then, the primary election was in August. Okay. And at the end of the day, um, I was, uh, I was ahead by I think seven votes. And because of that, it kicked it into a recount. Oh. And so it took three weeks to kind of tally things up and we lost some momentum. Ultimately, I prevailed. And then in the general election, you know, we lost by a couple of hundred votes. Oh. But my, I don't even use the word opponent anymore. My, my, um, competitor, uh, was Bob McCluskey. And you may know Bob, I do know Bob. And actually I think the world of him, I, you know, we always had a good relationship. We always were very civil and respectful with each other, with regard to campaigns. Wasn't he involved with the Liberty Common School or something like that? You might be, or that's a different Bob Bob Schaffer. Bob Schaffer. Yeah. And that's, that's another interesting story. There are lots of interesting stories that I, the ones that I can remember, but again, Kurt, long story short, um, we lost in the oh four election, then I went back and ran again, and that would've been in oh six and I was successful. Okay. So Bob and I sort of had a two outta three match, and I one set two outta three and then kind of kept going from there. So, um, so that's the House of Representatives? Yes. And, and can you give a quick, like two minutes on what that job looks like in comparison? You've kind of talked about what a county commissioner does and whatever. Um, what's the representative? And then later you became a senator. So let's talk about both of those things now. Like what, what's the difference a little bit? Well, one difference of course is that in. Colorado State legislature. It's in the Constitution, but we have 100 state legislators. Okay. You have 65 state reps and, and then you have 35 state senators. Oh. And even though the population of the Colorado changes, uh, you, you can't change the number of legislators unless it goes to a vote of the people. Cause it's in Constitution. Oh yeah. Okay. I dunno if a lot of folks know that. So our voice just gets more and more diluted every year, basically. Well, but then that's part of why every 10 years they do the redistricting. Right. And, and ideally a state rep should be representing about 90,000 folks and about double that for a state senate. Sure. Okay. So that, that's one difference. But I mean, ultimately, house District 52 back then was mostly, um, the east side of Fort Collins, the north side, kind of where we live in the Martinez Park neighborhood. Yep. Yep. And, and, um, oh, we're neighbors. Yeah. It's, it's a good neighborhood. Yep. And that's another thing we could have a conversation about. We bought our house on Sycamore Street in 1988 and, um, you know, for a price that's a lot. 34,000 or something. Poor actually. You're good. Um, 47 Fair. And, and, uh, the, the property taxes I just paid were not on 47. Oh, no, no. Well, we bought our house on Laport in Whittcomb. Um, no kidding on Laport in Whittcomb 2009. Interesting. Yeah. Um, and uh, for 2 52, I think, and I don't know what it's worth, but it's more than that. Well, we're at 4 28. That sounds about according to the assessor. But all that said, um, uh, yeah, uh, being a state representative, You know, you're in the legislative branch to do policy. Uh, you, you, you try to engage the, the, the, the community. I mean, that's always been a, a really important thing to me. Yeah. I, I believe I had a hand in starting this whole idea of, um, what we call community conversations or listening sessions. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And that was. I always felt that being an elected official, even though you don't get paid much and all of that, you're a part-time citizen legislator. But part of the job description is you gotta be out there in the community. Yeah. Yeah. And so we would, you know, we would create these opportunities for folks to ask questions, to push back to, you know, give ideas on legislation. Yeah. So you, you, you try to, you know, and, and I've actually taught at csu. I don't know if you knew that as well. I didn't. No. Well, that was my next question actually. I was gonna say you were a part-time citizen legislator, and so what did you do with your other part-time? You had little side hustles at CSU in things, I guess just, um, I, I think, um, you know, my wife was working, she worked at a, as a, a music, um, uh, a worship assistant at Redeemer Lutheran for Oh, is that right? For, um, uh, 19 years. Oh, wow. And so there was income coming there, there was, you know, I was very frugal. Um, but ultimately I didn't really have other jobs other than in the Senate. I was asked by the school of social work at CSU if I would teach a graduate course on public policy. Hmm. And, and that was not because I had a, um, a, a Bachelor of social work, a master's of social work. It was because I had, you know, direct experience, 20 years of advocacy and engagement in various ways. So, so I had that, and I, that was a, that was a really good gig and I really enjoyed teaching a lot. But I guess, um, uh, to bring it all back, uh, that's what you do in the legislature. You. You try to identify, and this is what I would do with my, my students. You know, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Uh, is there a role for government? What's the cost of the taxpayer? Yeah. I mean, there are some key questions you gotta ask. Yeah. What are those unintended consequences? What are those unintended consequences? You know, the pros and contour, the winners and losers. How do you bring home, uh, you know, I'm very passionate about this stuff to do it right, and it's not easy. Yeah. Bringing, bringing forth stakeholders and, and making sure that if, you know, and we, we've been up against, you know, like David and Goliath kind of thing, but ultimately if you do the process right, you can come up with good policy that does identify the role of government in trying to solve problems. But of course, it's not always up to government, uh, you know, to, to solve problems. It's really up to the community and government in my opinion, has a role. So you, you, um, you get that input. You work with people. You ultimately, you know, have legislation or bills and you pass laws that hopefully address real community needs. There's a really, um, fascinating podcast conversation I just listened to. I don't know, have you ever listened to the Lex Friedman podcast? No. No. He just had on, um, and I listened to it yesterday and today. Um, Tim Urban is the guy's name, and Tim's book is, um, I'm just looking it up on my little app here. Uh, what's our problem? A self-help book for societies. And one of the, one of the big things he shared, I guess almost the base premise, if I had to to say it, is that we spend too much time focusing on the horizontal issues. Like, here, here's what I think about abortion. And if you don't agree with that, you're stupid. Here's what I think about gun control. And if you don't believe that you're stupid instead of. looking at the, the ladder, the height of the conversation, like we spend a ton of time on social media and otherwise in our reptile brain and not thinking with our full intellectual curiosity and being, uh, in communion together and, and benefiting from that collaborative solution thing that allowed us to create culture and, and instead to go up the ladder. And I was just talking to my team about the fact that what we do at Loco Think Tank is basically creating spaces to go up the ladder of That's great communication and, and understanding. And it's interesting. Kurt, this is all very interesting actually, um, just last Wednesday. I attended the, uh, community meeting at the, at the library, you know, old Town Library that was put on Oh, the Braver Angels event. Well, they, yeah, they, they, they highlighted the Braver Angels, but I, I think the title of the event was The Crossing Political Divides. Hmm. And that's an example of a goal that I've set for myself this year as a county commissioners. How do we, you know, what can we do tangibly to try to rebuild some of the trust? Yeah. You know, certainly Covid Covid and All, and The Pandemic didn't help any of that. True that's a whole nother conversation. Uh, but the, it was a really, really excellent, um, presentation. The, the, uh, community room was packed and, and they had, um, uh, you know, Martine Corson was there from the Senate for Public Deliberation. And then I didn't even know that, that it existed, but there's something called the Northern Colorado, uh, deliberative Journalism Project. Hmm. So I thought that was really great. And they talked about the Braver Angels and, uh, other best practices, uh, resources that are out there. They highlighted this one person from a Ted uh, a TED Talk that it was all very fascinating. Yeah. And that's important to me. Thank you. Yeah. Uh, I, I agree fully. And so, um, I think that's, uh, one of the, I'm I, I don't know, you probably don't read my blog, but I'm kind of a diehard small government libertarian type of fellow. And so some might think that we have a lot of, uh, strife, but I'm also a communitarian. I want the best for people. And we in some places have different ideas about how to accomplish. Starting with knowing that we each want the best for people is a good place to start from. Well, and, and, and perhaps, um, that's a good segue into, you know, as I've been a, I've been doing this for a while, not that I know everything about it, but one of the things that I've really learned, and I try to put it into practice, I'm not always successful, can swing it back. Yeah. Sorry. That's okay. Um, but, you know, I, I often say to folks, you know, God gave us two ears and one mouth. Uh, we should listen twice as much as we speak. And I, and I find the, I tried to put that in, in, in, into practice, but I also, you know, one of the experiences that I had, Kurt, was in 2002, I actually went to Israel and Palestine Mm mm-hmm. and, and it was part of a delegation. There's something called the Compassionate Listening Project. Mm. And it focuses on, you know, you go through a training, you know, listening from the heart, setting aside your biases. Mm. And when you're sitting down with somebody who you may not agree with, not necessarily trying to jump in and say, how am I, how am I gonna change this person's mind? Yeah. How do we look at it collaboratively? How do we go up, you know, up, upstream, up, you know Yeah. Go vertically rather than horizontally. And, and I've tried to put that into practice that if I'm sitting down, I think it's important to be able to sit down with folks who, who you may not agree with. And it's not so much about how this makes sense. It's not so much about trying to change their mind about something. But it is, in my opinion, it is. better understanding where they're coming from. Totally. And and a lot of times if people have opinions that maybe seem irrational or something, uh, they, they're based out of fear. They're based out of anger. And, and, and, and it, it applies to where, you know, whether you're on the left end of the political spectrum or the right end of the political spectrum or wherever libertarians fit, fit into that Right. Sorry. And, uh, and, um, but I just think it's, um, it's, it's just, you know, it's just really important. Well, I've, I've kind of given up trying to change people's minds. Uh, only you can change your mind Yeah. Is my notion and only anybody else listening to this conversation, they, you can only change your own mind. You can only make yourself act. You can only be responsible for your own financial and educational successes. And some people can walk alongside you and help you understand better. And questions can help too. And I think part of that conversation is, I mean, the best way that we can influence others perhaps is, is by example. Right? Yeah. You know, by example, live, live the, you know, be a good role model, especially for the children and ultimately, um, you know, some of that, you know, spills over, uh, with other folks. And, and I think we have to be willing to accept and embrace that other people might have some valid viewpoints. Yeah. Yeah. And they might have some answers that you hadn't thought of to a very complex problem. Yeah. No, I think that's true. And, and understanding that we all have different, Perspectives and bits of information to add into the sauce of, of greater understanding, uh, is pretty clutched. So how how does that play out in like things like your legislative experience and the, the Senate and the representatives? Or is there a lot of, is there time for that? Is there space for that or is it more like the bully pulpit and the cultures of who can build the coalitions of the, the money to elite? Well, I would say that there, it's not easy, but there is time for that and it's really important. And I know that one of my, my things when I was in the legislature, both in the House and the Senate, was this whole, um, I would try to get every year at the beginning of the session, uh, to pass a resolution around civility, Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, and, and you know, so, so that's, that's important. And I, again, I think if you want to be a good legislator, if you want to be someone who is a public servant who tries to be authentic and does a good job of listening, you have to be willing to sit down with, you know, who are the stakeholders, what is the issue you're trying to address? And bring folks in who, you know, may push back. But in the end, I think you can come up with much better policy when you engage in that kind of process. And it's not easy and it typically takes longer. Yes. Yeah. Fair enough. Um, what else would you have people know about what being a public. Is like, it feels like, I mean, you know, maybe there's some people out there thinking about it themselves. You mentioned already, you know, if you got little kids, maybe think twice or whatever. But yeah, describe like the, the, the space of living, that life that you've lived the last 20 years. Yes. Um, it's an interesting space and I suppose if you talk to my spouse, you might get you know, and that's, she's, I'm sure she's proud of you. I have no question about that. She, she is, but you know, it's, it's not a, but it's an, and, um, it's not been without sacrifice and you know, most, when I've been doing this, our kids have been mostly grown up, but I realize that for the last 20 years I've worked most of the time. Yeah. And, and, and so I think I've lost some things and now as I get older, and especially having a five year old granddaughter that I brag about all the time. Yeah. Who is brilliant. You should get her on your show someday. Although she's very, she's, she's, she's brilliant. I mean, it would knock your socks I doubt as well. And, uh, but she's very shy. She's very shy. Uh, so, so it's not been an easy 20 years. And, um, I'm realizing, especially as I get older, cuz we're on this, you know, we're on this, yeah. We're in this, in this life for a temporary amount of time. I, I, I want to reconnect with my family, with my friends, you know, those kinds of things. Well, I'm thinking about that early lust for travel and adventure and backpacking and the boonies and stuff. Yeah. I mean, you've sacrificed quite a bit of that stuff too, probably because of the, just the busyness of. commitment's here. That is correct. And so, um, I mean, to your question, I think that, you know, as a public servant, as an elected person, as a county commissioner, uh, it is very, it it can be very rewarding, but I would be somewhat disingenuous if I didn't say there weren't times when it was, it can be very stressful. And, and, um, you know, I, I mean I, as a county commissioner especially, I think in a lot of ways it's harder cuz you're dealing with everything mm-hmm. From potholes, right. Uh, from potholes to trying to figure out how we're gonna address the lack of affordable housing. Right. Uh, in, in this, you know, in our community. And, and, and so it, it, it's rewarding especially when you make connections with folks. Um, and, but it can also be, it can also be very challenging cuz the issues that we deal with, whether they're oil and gas development, uh, whether they're, um, trying to update our regulations on other hot topic right now, you never would've thought it's right up there with oil and gas and climate change and everything else. It's short term rentals. Right. Right. Um, it's a big deal. It makes a big difference. It's a big deal and it makes a big difference. So one thing I tell folks, and, and I'll pause after this, and that is, I, if you're gonna run for office, you gotta really think about why you want to, why you, why you're doing that. What are your intentions, um, how does that affect your family and your friends? How does that affect work life balance? But I think ultimately people have to be authentic. People have to be genuine. I, I think especially in Lamber County, folks get it. They don't want someone who just does stump speeches. Yeah. Uh, and, and so I think it's really important that you are and present yourself as someone who's genuine, who's a regular person who happens to be doing this job as well. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I think we're still, well, we're still in your career, you just faced a, a very challenging opponent for the county commissioner. Oh, that's right. Spot in Justin Smith. Uh, last fall, um, you, you eed out a actually a, a pretty substantial victory. You know, I don't know what, a couple thousand votes or something, actually, something like 19,000, but who's counting? Yeah. Uh, it was, I believe it was like 10 percentage points. Yeah. Almost 10. Yeah. Bigger than, bigger than I guessed it. Honestly not because I don't like Justin or don't like you or whatever. I was just kind of, what do you think the difference was in, in that race with such a, frankly, high name recognition candidate, uh, in our region? Good darn. Good question. First, let me share, you know, the, the common ground that we were both operating. So I announced, I think back in December of last year that I was running for, I would run for reelection. And then in early January, uh, a couple of days before Justin Smith announced that he would be running for the, the county commissioner's seat, he actually called me as a courtesy to let, let me know that. And I thought that was very, um, very courteous, very gracious and all of that. And I said, that's great, Justin. Uh, the only thing I would ask, and we had a gentleman's agreement of verbal agreement, is let's stick to the high road. Uh, let's not go down the road of, uh, you know, name calling or different things. All of all of those kinds of things. And, and that's how the campaign was, um, was undertaken. And I, and I think that's what people would expect. Those are the expectations that the voters of LaMer County have, and I think the voters of this country have, and we don't always, uh, deliver, uh, the way, the way we ought to. Yeah, fair. But, but that's how I've always tried to do it. And, and both Justin and I work from that space. And I think what, you know, what contributed to our success is, you know, we've had experience running successful campaigns. I've realized that as a county commissioner honestly, uh, occurred. it, it can be a 24 7 job. Right. Um, uh, and, and so what I've done in the past with campaigning and being out, knocking on doors and canvasing, which are really important, especially since Covid has kind of subsided. Yeah. Um, I wasn't able to do that. So, and, and even the, the, I'm not the typical person, you know, you always get all these requests for money, and I know money is a part of it, but actually we raised half the amount of money as we did the previous campaign, and we had the same kind of outcome. And I, I guess I attribute that that to maybe two things. One is there is a bit of a track record here. I mean, I've been doing this for a while. I, I have just like Justin, the former sheriff have name recognition. Yep. And, and I think one of the things that I, I believe is real is that a lot of folks, um, who may not agree with me respect me. Yeah. I would agree with that. And, and we have those relationships. Well, I think you're like, even with those of us and the community that disagree with you, they would say, you know, John Kafa, he's authentic, he has integrity. You know, I don't know how he comes to those conclusions on some things even when they disagree. Right. But that I trust him to do what he thinks is the right thing to do. Um, whereas. Too many people are swayed by, uh, the, you know, whatever the opportunities later or things like that. I mean, yeah, we'll talk more about politics specifically later, but, and, and I don't have a whole lot of political aspirations. I've always viewed this as a way of doing public service. Yeah. Um, and trying to bring folks together. And, you know, one of the things that might cause you to chuckle or smile is I remember running not for the commissioner thing, but prior, I can't remember one of the set of races or one of those darn races, but I remember in two yards I saw, well, it had to be when John McCain and Sarah Palin were running for, uh, okay. Yeah. Would that have been oh eight perhaps, I suppose. Yeah. Or maybe maybe 12. Maybe 12. Anyway, the, the, in Obama's second term, I dunno, the, the, the, the funny thing is that, um, there were two front yards where there was a, um, a yard sign for John McCain and Sarah Palin and Kafa. Right. Yeah. Go figure. That's, uh, that's pretty significant. That should be on the front page of your Facebook site. Well, and I've had a, you know, over time, anecdotally, quite a number of folks who've said, you know, I, they're in the other political party and they said, you're the first person of your political, political party that I voted for. Hmm. Interesting. Um, yeah, I think that's probably reasonable. Anyhow. Yeah. What's next for you? Or are you gonna. Keep that county commissioner roll for a while. You got a lot of juice in your, in your fire. It still seems like, but I realized today that you're quite a bit older than I expected to find. You know that how old I am? I, you know, you must be at least 20 years older than me and I'm 48. So 68, is that maybe you're 70? No, no, 68. Let's leave it at the Okay. Or somewhere right up there. No, I was born in 1954. You were born in 74. Yeah. There we are. Oh gosh. Um, so I just got reelected. I'm a month and a half into my second term, so that's where my focus is right now. Yeah. Um, it's, it's, you know, there's a lot of work before us. Is there term limits on county commissioners there? Yes. There, the short answer is yes. And there are three, three terms, three, four year terms. Oh. So I, I, I would have the option of running for a third term. Yeah. Uh, in, I guess in 2026. But right now I'm really focused on continuing to do the job. I, I like to say, keep my nose to the grindstone. Um, a lot of critical issues before us. Yeah. Um, what, what are those maybe top three critical issues for LaMer County? I think you probably mentioned some of it on the affordable housing and, and workforce. Is that two of them? Well, you know, infrastructure gotta be a big one too. All of those things. I, I guess what, when you ask that question, certainly on the workforce side of things and the economic development side of things, A lot of credit should go to, um, uh, LaMer County and well, the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce, all of the various business groups, local think Tank Well and local think tank Yes, absolutely. Because, and the, um, the Weld County Employment Services, uh, clearly that's where we've come together for a regional approach Yeah. To dealing with, uh, economic development and, um Yep, yep, for sure. Uh, uh, workforce. So I think that's an example of, of, of people coming together and, and, and dealing, you know, addressing the issues. Um, other things that are front and center, I would offer Kurt, you know, the, um, the solid waste issue. So you're probably, you've read in the paper that recently the county agreed to go into negotiations with Republic Services, do a public-private partnership. Yeah. Uh, regarding the, the construction and the operation of the new landfill that will go, um, seven miles north of, um, uh, Wellington on County Road nine up towards Raw Hyde. Okay. And I can, I can talk about that. I haven't read about that yet, but, well, it's, it's significant. It's so welling is, is Republic is, are they now a, a city sponsored monopoly as well. And, and what about ram waste? What happened there? So there were two questions there. Um, they technically, they're not, uh, yet a, um, a city sponsored monopoly. Uh, there wasn't something in the paper where, I think it was first reading with city council, or at least, uh, regarding, um, they, they put out an rfp, just like we put out an RFP for the, uh, for the landfill, the transfer station, right. And the, and then expanded recycling center. Um, but they put out an rfp, the preferred vendor was, um, was Republic Services. And so assuming that it goes for the various readings and however the city steps Yeah, yeah. That, that's, um, they will be the, um, the, the, the, the single hauler people will have options. And that's more on the residential side, which I think represents 20% of the, the garbage that, uh, comes out of Fort Collins. But both the city of Fort Collins and county were very committed to diversion. And so, for example, in the MOU that we established with Republic Services mm-hmm. we want to get to 50% diversion, uh, by 2030, for example. And of course the city is, you know, pushing for, and we agree for net zero waste or whatever sure is, is called. So they are not quite there yet. But assuming if the city council approves the contract, well it approves moving forward with the contract, they still gotta work out the contract. Yeah. Just like we are in the process of negotiating a contract with Republic. Uh, that's how that would, you know, go down. Your other question had to do with Ram waste. Um, what what's interesting, I think it's interesting, and this is a big issue, we gotta deal with the solid waste issue and the recycling issue. Yeah. And that is that, um, you know, it used to be Gallegos, they were a family owned business. Sure. They, they were the main thing in town. Um, and then, and then of co of course Loveland has their own trash hauling service and they bring their recycling and their trash up to the landfill up, you know, over there on Taft Hill. But otherwise it's commercial haulers, you know, the private sector. So Gallegos sold to Republic? Yep. Um, Ram Waste, actually there's another national company called Waste Connections. Okay. They bought out Ram waste. Oh really? And then of course we have Waste Management, which is the third Oh, right. National company. And they've been operating and they have their, well, they've got control over the, at least one of the dumps too, kind of right? Or something. Well, they, or they had some involvement in funding of the other dump. Maybe they, they have, uh, they have their own dump as you put the used facility over. Yeah. On, on highway. Uh, 14. 1414 towards alt. So that is their, their privately owned, uh, landfill. I, so there's the one that the county is running that's gonna close up in, uh, by 2024. And that's why there's some urgency in building this new landfill and this transfer station and, and on and on. Well, at Waste Management is like, well, you're filling up. We have the only place to haul stuff right now. There's an interesting, some leverage stuff going on there, I imagine too. Well, yeah, but the goal of course is ultimately to try to, um, minimize as much as we can what goes into the dump. Yeah. And, and look at markets and, and, you know, recycling Well, maximize efficiencies, maximize, minimize waste, all those things. Why don't we burn trash? Why do we, or why don't we, we, it seems like, I mean, especially if you're thinking about like Europe, they started burning wood and coal and a bunch, bunch of stuff this year cuz of shortage of energy and Well, well I don't see the solar and wind thing really capturing a lot more market share unless there's significant battery or efficient storage. And so right now we're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place and we've got dumps filling up all over the. Well, I would say that, uh, why we, big question, well, why we don't burn, um, garbage is, and unless it's done properly there, you know, there can be significant issues with emissions. Sure. And I, you know, it's interesting you mentioned that cuz when I grew up in New York, you know, we used to have, you know, the, the, the city, the city of New York has their sanitation department and they would incinerate a lot of Oh, is that right? The trash. Yeah. Uh, and, and, and, but there are new technologies that look at, um, paralysis and those kinds of things. So there might be some opportunities there, but, but historically we've not burned garbage because it puts up too much pollution to do it. Right. So that, that's the reason there. And it far as the, the landfill that's out on Taft Hill, I mean, part of how we, how we've. Extended the life of the landfill is, you know, we've looked at, uh, different practices around compaction. Mm-hmm. you know, the equipment that we have out there, and I don't know if you ever thought of this, but um, remember when we had that mega hail storm a couple of years ago? Sure. And everybody had to replace their roofs. Right. Well, that took off about three months from the landfill because of all those shingles. Right. We didn't have the proper way to recycle or reuse those shingles. Right. And those shingles are huge high density sources of energy in a way, because it's basically. Yeah. You know, packed in with a little bit of rock for protecting the Yeah. The tar. So, so to your question a few minutes ago, you know, the, the dealing with the, so waste issue is, is a front and center issue. Yeah. Seems like, and, and, um, you know, for example, I'll be up in Wellington. I, I do these community conversations. I do like three or four month LaPorte, red Feather, Wellington, et cetera. Um, and we'll be up there on March 2nd and we will be talking, providing an update on the landfill stuff. But also Republic Services has gotten, uh, it's interesting that people in Wellington are not happy with the customer service. Well, I was just thinking, uh, NIMBY is likely the case too. Well, it's not just the customer service, but they also don't want a bunch of trucks going up and down their county road up there. Right? Well, the, the trucks are, and we've had those conversations and that's part of the intergovernmental agreements, and that's part of the agreement. Ultimately the contract with, um, uh, with Republic is they're not gonna, they, they're not gonna go up and down the county roads. Oh, good. So there is a, there is a preferred route, and that route will be from the transfer station, that's gonna be where the current site is. Ultimately, those trucks that are gonna bring it up to the landfill are gonna go out to I 25 and go up and then come in on Al Canyon, north County. Yeah, that makes sense. Sense to me. Yeah. And, and so, so that's a bit really. Front and center issue. Another one that comes to mind that I think, uh, there's less, um, continuousness perhaps, and that is, uh, behavioral health. Mm-hmm. So, you know, the voters passed the sales tax initiative. Yeah. The county sales tax thing in 2018 or mental health support kind of. Yeah. And so, um, this fall we we're gonna complete the construction of the behavioral health facility right there on on. Good thing cuz people have been getting crazier faster than ever the last couple years. Yeah. Uh, as well. Well, and this is dealing with mental health issues and it's also dealing with substance use disorder. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. So we'll have the facility Yeah. Of those things. We'll have the facility, uh, and it'll provide some crisis. It'll actually have a detox center, for example. Oh yeah. We've never had that. We've been hauling people with Greeley for detox for 20 years or something. Exactly. So, um, I would, that's another big deal to spend another hour just talking about regional issues and stuff and we can have a coffee or something later, uh, and do that. But I would like that, I wanna make sure we get into the, the faith family politics segments here. And, uh, you can start wherever you wish. I wanna make sure that we have a chance to talk about ultimate Frisbee and, uh, your family development. So if you'd like, maybe we, I'd invite you to start there. Um, so what, what was your older son's name? Your stepson? So our, our, uh, my older son. Our older son, excuse me, is Harlan. Harlan, yeah. And he, um, Uh, interesting. He graduated from Putter High School, uh, in the first, uh, international Baccalaureate class back in 90, 98. And he went to CU you. Mm-hmm. uh, was not happy there. And ultimately, um, much to our surprise in 1999, called us up one day and said, uh, dad, I think you need to sit down. I gotta tell you something. Because he was down in Louisville Living Cuz he was at cu. Yeah. He said, I'm joining the army. Oh, wow. So he served in the Army for 22 years, retired in 2021. Wow. Um, and he has three kids. Okay. Um, and right now they're living in Missouri and there's a bit of a story to that. So that's, um, Harlan is our old older son. And, and, and, uh, the woman he married Tracy, he actually met, she was a navigator on a merchant marine vessel. Oh, cool. Uh, when the Iraq war started in 2003. Wow. He was in charge of security. The Marines were already deployed, and normally they would be protect the, the, the ship was, um, uh, bringing heavy equipment and things like that. Yeah, yeah. Over there to Basra, I think it was. And so he was in charge of that, and that's how he met Tracy. And, um, I, I believe they went from playing Canasta to, you know, how things happen, uh, horizontal canasta, I think they call that other one. Um, Sorry. I, anyway, so one of the things we do, and if you're not an avid listener, you wouldn't know, but we, I do, uh, one word descriptions of either the kids or the grandkids. In this case, I know that there's at least three grandkids there. Four, uh, four. Now, would you like to, um, name them each and give an age and then give a one word? description, attempt without, uh, sure. So my son Harlan, and his and his spouse Tracy, they have three kids. Okay. Uh, the oldest is, uh, 19, uh, Toby. Tobias. Okay. Uh, then the next one is Barbara and she, um, I guess this July she'll be 17. And then the youngest is John and they named him after me. His name is John Michael Kales. Nice. And what's really interesting and maybe a little bit bizarre is I was born the day after Christmas. Oh. He was born the day after Christmas. Oh, how cool is that? So they have three kids, uh, and then our younger son, Tim. Yep. He works at CSU and his spouse, Shayna works at Partners Mentoring Youth. Oh, great. And they have a five year old going on six, um, uh, granddaughter, well our granddaughter, Mila. Mila and m i l a. Yeah. What a pretty name. And she goes, she started full day kindergarten in August, and she, um, she's at Harris Bilingual. Awesome. Yeah. That's really cool. So, um, let's, let's get those one word descriptions. I'll let you go. Oldest to youngest with Tobias first. Ah. So one word, eh, one word. Sometimes we low hyphens. If you allow hyphens. Thank you. Risk taker. Ooh, sounds interesting, Tobias. You got a bright future ahead. As long as you don't take too many risks. Um, but I'm sorry, I can't read my own writing here. Barbara. Barbara, um, oh gosh. We can cut out some of this dead space if we need to. Oh, forgive me. I'll, I'll say learner. Learner. I like that word. And then John, uh, um, video games. I thought that's not exactly how she name. Yeah. Close enough. Uh, and then the other one, Mila. Yeah. Um, curious. I'll leave it at that. Curious. Yeah. That'll, that'll benefit her probably more than risk taking in some ways. Um, let's hear a little bit more about Tim. Um, we, we heard about Harlan and his military journey. Tim's at CSU now, but he had a semi-famous ultimate Frisbee along the way. And, and what's he teaching or what's he doing? He worked, so Tim graduated from csu, I think in two th excuse me, in 2008. And, um, he currently works in the, um, uh, the, the. Academic success, CSU academic. Oh, okay. Success center. And, and, um, he, when he was a student at csu, he got into playing ultimate disk or Ultimate Frisbee. And then when he graduated for five years, he coached the CSU team. Oh, wow. Uh, the Hida team. And he is actually made a name for himself because he currently, uh, coaches, last year was the inaugural year of the semi-professional team in Colorado called the, um, Colorado Summit. Okay. And he is one of the, um, three coaches for the Colorado Summit. Huh. That's cool. And then he coaches, so they travel around for a huge weekend. Uh, yes. Ultimate disk tournaments and whatever. Well, then actually in their inaugural year, they, their record, they, there was, um, like 13 and one. Wow. And they actually made it to Madison, Wisconsin in the semi-finals and they almost made it to the championship game. But then he coaches another team. It's, it's called Johnny Bravo and it's another elite men's, uh, ultimate team. And they actually made national champions. Wow. What a distinctive, uh, career journey. He might not be, don't tell csu, but it wouldn't surprise me if his other opportunities outgrow his main hustle one of days. Well, and, and I think he, you know, he's very, um, his work is, is really a meaningful. And I know recently they were, um, successful in getting a, I think it's like a one and a half million dollar grant, uh, to uh, uh, promote, um, uh, people of color diversity, people pursuing PhDs, for example. Oh. So that's, that's an example of the kind of work. Wow, well that's a lot of, of impact too. Yeah. They do a lot of great work. And then his spouse, Shayna, she works for partners, mentoring youth and Yeah. And together they're just pretty amazing parents community, community citizens for sure. Yes. Um, let's talk about Beth a little bit. Uh, because her dad was a Lutheran pastor in your neighborhood nearly, or not too far? Uh, is that, uh, what's, what's her family's ethnic heritage? Are they German? Um, I think there's a, you know, a number of things in there, but European mix, Northern European mix, I think is what a lot of us are in North Dakota too. Yeah. Yes. And, uh, so what was it like, you told me that you were a little bit awkward in things. What was it maybe about you that, that really drew her to you when you reconnected? Well, we had, we had known each other before. Um, she often talks about how, uh, during the Vietnam War there was, um, uh, uh, a march, uh, and, and I was in high school at the time. Mm-hmm. And she comments that she saw me from a distance, kind of singing out, singing my lungs out, singing out my, my heart. And, and then we did meet a little bit prior and, um, but I just didn't pick up on the, on the, on the connections there. Uh, well, that was something that in inspired her, at least impressed her that you had, I guess, the boldness to go be part of that. Yes. And, and speak your mind. Yeah. And, and, and I think, um, ultimately we knew each other. Um, you know, we, we started seeing each other when I went back east. Yeah. And, and, um, I, I just think things, uh, you know, there was a, there was a synergy there. Yeah. Yeah. And ultimately, and we've been married 41 years. Congratulations. Um, in no, November 21st. As you know, in relationships, they're not always a cakewalk. Sure. And there have been a few ups and downs, but I mean, overall we've done well. And you know, after about 40 years you're sort of on automatic, you get pretty comfortable. Yeah. Automatic pilot But she, um, she has a degree from csu, uh, music degree. She's, she plays piano, other kinds of instruments. Uh, and she worked at Redeemer Lutheran for 19 years Yeah. And retired. And now she is, or was, and now less so. But the, the primary, um, childcare person for Mila. Oh. Um, you know, ever since she was born. Yeah. Uh, Beth has been the main person, you know, taken care of her. And then as she got older, little Lessing, it was, you know, it was less days because she would go into a playgroup. And now of course with, um, full day kindergarten, Beth picks her up, um, uh, three days a week from Harris. Yeah. And then the folks, the parents pick her up the other two days. Oh, what a, I mean, what a blessing for her. What a blessing for Mila. and what a blessing for, for Mila's parents too, right? For Tim and, and sh Shayna. Absolutely. Yes. And, and, uh, you know, for, for the longest time, I mean, Beth was, um, earning some income that way, but it was much less right. As you can imagine. Yeah. Than if they were to have it to go to. Um, sure. Well daycare is, you know, 12, $1,400 a month pretty much anymore. Yeah. Or 1500 more. Yep. Yep. And that's another issue that we're, you know, where the county has a role, we're trying to, you know, help address that issue. But yes, so Beth has been the main caretaker for Mila for the last number of years. Uh, she's, um, another, you know, really smart person and, um, she's put up with me for 41 years, I, and, and she's been very, um, patient and tolerant cuz I. You know, I, I, I work a lot. Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and that gets old sometimes, to be honest. Yeah. And, uh, uh, but you know, recently, um, you know, we, we went out on a, a date like twice in one weekend, which really is unheard of. Wow. And in fact, tonight we may go to that pizzeria that I was mentioning Oh, good. To support our friend, uh, Mary. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, so it's a good relationship. Uh, I like to travel. She doesn't like to travel as much. We kind of have to work through that. Back in the day we used to do a lot of hiking and camping and backpacking. She does less of that. But we still, you know, one really exciting things that's coming up that, um, was, uh, my, my birthday present from Mila and her folks was Family Trip 3.0, and I think you would appreciate this, but over spring break, my son has arranged everything, Tim, and we're gonna fly to, um, I think Santa Cruz and camp out for four nights in a, a redwood, uh, park there, uh, a county park that has, um, um, uh, coastal, uh, Redwood, yeah, yeah. Trees. And maybe even go to, uh, what's that famous aquarium in Monterey Bay or something. Yep, yep. You know, do things like that. Yeah. So I'm, I'm really excited about that. Yeah. Fill in, check off some of those boxes and places to see that you've sacrificed as, as a public servant in the last 20 years and, and a. Over full-time job almost. Yeah. Over full-time, part-time job, So I think that you've really shown a lot of love and appreciation for family through this conversation all along the way. And so, anything you'd like to say about your, your parents? I know your dad is dispatched. I assume your, maybe your mom is, she's gone to, gone to by now. She, she, um, well, I, I appreciate that and, and, uh, you know, my, my father was a great role model. Um, and it, it's weird when I think about him, cuz he sacrificed a lot. He didn't have much of an education. He, he worked his tail off in the diner. So, you know, we could, we could have a, some semblance of a comfortable life. We were never, you know, a regular middle class folks. Yeah. Maybe lower middle class. Uh, my mother was mostly, um, a housekeeper or, um, homemaker, although she did work outside the, the house, the home, especially in the years when my father, uh, was not able to do that. Right. Uh, it was harder. Um, a lot of, um, you know, my, my Greek heritage is, is really important to me. The Greek traditions. Uh, you know, one of the things you brought up was about faith and I, I think it's important and appropriate to share that. Um, I, I was baptized Greek Orthodox. Yeah. I wanted to get into that a little bit here too. So let's just shift into the faith conversation. Well, and, and again, we, we were, but then you married a, a, a Lutheran girl. Yeah. You know, we, we, our wedding was one of those eclectic weddings. It wasn't in a Greek Orthodox church. Uh, but it all, and and my mother, you know, my father was in the hospital at the time. We didn't think enough to ask him to try to get him out. He was dealing with prostate cancer and stuff like that. Um, but anyway, my mother actually did show up. Although she was late, I think it was hard for her. Uh, cuz it was in my, you know, I'm sorry, forgive me. That's okay. It was in, um, here. You knew that whiskey in your hand too? No, I'm, I'm good. All right. It was in, uh, in, in Beth's dad's his, the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. But it was, it was a great thing. And, and again, my father, I I, I sometimes I, I go to tears when I think of him cuz he worked so hard. Yeah. And he was a very giving person and I think he was a great role model and I didn't see him much cuz he worked a lot of the times. Yeah, yeah. And then my mother, you know, again, she, she did the best she could to love us. She was actually, um, part of, um, you know, when the Nazis occupied Greece, she was there as a teenager and it was really hard. Oh wow. I was really, really hard. I mean, they had to hide in cemeteries. They didn't have much to eat. And I think she come, I think you can relate Kirk, the, the, the gen that generation, the greatest generation. I mean there were a lot of issues there that we haven't had to deal with. Yeah. Yeah. And so, She had carried some trauma from those times, even in some, some ways I would say. Yes. And I guess the thing, as much as I love my mom, it wasn't easy because even though I did well in school and all of that, it was never good enough. Yeah. And I think she imparted that on my, my dad too. Um, and so that was a little bit hard, but over time, you know, she came to love Beth and Harlan and everything else. Yeah. So I think that was really helpful and, and we had a good relationship. And then five years ago or so, she, um, she got sick and, you know, she, yeah. You know, she eventually passed away. This was back in New York, and I was glad because I was, it was Mother's Day and, uh, I was, um, with Beth and we were at the Hilton here, you know, on, on Prospect. Mm-hmm. And we were, we took a, a friend of ours, Mary, who was, um, uh, a mom, a grandma, uh, we took her out, you know, for brunch, mother's Day brunch. And I remember getting a call and, you know, if you're from New York, they like to use four letter words quite a bit. Sure. Um, and they said, you need to get here right away. Um, you know, mom's in the hospital and she's not doing well. So I got, I got there the next morning. My sister flew in from Athens, and ultimately we got to spend the last 48 hours. But in the end, um, we had to make a decision about, um, yeah. Yeah. That's, so it goes, yeah. Um, so have you remained Greek Orthodox or do you go to the Lutheran Church and Because I, I, I confess, actually I have a little. knowledge about Greek Orthodoxy because I, I met a former member of a church that I knew that, that, uh, owns a Jim Dunn in Loveland, and he had switched from being, like, being like raised in evangelical to the Greek Orthodox Church. Uh, and I've listened to the podcast from their church, the St. St. Spiegel or St something in Loveland. So in, in on 29th Street. Saint Spiritan. Yeah, Saint Spiritan. Yeah, Uh, and so, but I've really enjoyed, frankly, the, I guess kind of part of the tradition. Like they kind of largely do services the same as they did 2000 years ago and followed a lot of the same protocol and really the consistency, you know, and, and really, uh, and, and the perspective of God and how, uh, how you can't really define, uh, that force as well as maybe we want to try to, we put, I would like to say we put all of our various, you know, Baptists and event, you know, Methodists and stuff, we're putting God in little boxes and the Greeks kind of refused to put God in a box in comparison. That's, that's interesting. All of what you've just said. And, uh, so I was raised Greek Orthodox. It still is important to me. I kind of stepped away from it, you know, part of it is, as you said, they do the, um, uh, the liturgy and the service in, in the ancient, the old Greek. And if you didn't know that it was hard and, you know, how do you relate to that? So that was part of, um, You know, I would go to church when I was a kid cuz you had to go to church. Uh, but I, you know, I would also, I also went to Greek school like they, you know, where I had to learn Greek, um, and all of that. But, but my Christian faith has always been really important and talk about journeys. So when I came back, uh, when I came back from Peace cor, I saw like Christian based communities and how people who were dealing with immense poverty and a lot of violence and all that were overcoming that. I mean, it was just an amazing thing, Kurt. I, I realized that there's a lot of strength there. And, and so I migrated to, um, some of the historic peace churches. And when I came back to Fort Collins for a number of years, I attended the, uh, friends meeting here in town. Okay. And, and, um, and then from there I actually, um, attended the Mennonite Fellowship for, oh, I, I never, you know, sort of converted or whatever. Yeah. But I was a member of well they're a consistent Yeah. Voice for peace. Yeah. And, you know, thinking about not just your mom, but also your wife's first hu first husband or whatever, first the, the father of Harlan, you know, people get wrecked by war and the deciders about getting into war. Don't always seem to think about that consequence. And once again, I appreciate your insights. Um, yeah. You know, the people who go off to the soldiers, like my son or like, uh, all the sacrifices that families and soldiers are experiencing now Yeah. In Ukraine with the, the war with Russia. Sure. Um, that's real. And that's, that's something that we have to honor and, and support. Uh, it's oftentimes the politicians who make decisions about getting us into war. Yeah. And I'm not sure if they've actually, they don't face any consequences. They don't, they don't face any consequences. I don't know how much they've thought through it, what the implications are. So I've never been a big, um, you know, I've always considered myself as a quote, non-violent activist. You know, there's a term of pacifist. Yeah. And I still consider myself that. But I think one of the things that I've, um, and even with my idealism, I, I still consider myself an idealist, which is very different. And we can get into that if you'd like, uh, an ideologue, um, versus someone who is a quote idealist. Mm-hmm. And I believe in that as I've gotten older, I'm more of a sort of pragmatic Yeah. I was just, I was thinking that exact phrase, pragmatic idealist is like the right combination. You and I could have a good cup of coffee sometime, but, um, no, that's, that's where I, that's and part of my evolution as a, as a human being. Yeah. Um, and, and I still, I realize that, you know, like my pacifism is really challenged and, and, uh Right. We live in a. Imperfect world and like what's happening right now, what has been happening for almost a year in Ukraine. Um, it's, it's hard to understand or, or fathom, you know, what could be an effective, you know, non-violent response, non-war. Right. Right. So, so that's been a real challenge. But ultimately what has guided me, honestly, uh, Kurt, this is really important that my Christian faith, you know, the, um, the attitudes, the sermon on the mount of things that I, I, um, I, I radiate towards. That's been really, really important to me. And, and it's helped guide, you know, you hear a lot about the golden rule and all that stuff, but it, it's helped guide how I try to be with people and, and how I try to be honest. Um, you know, maybe I've told a few white lies over the years. Yeah. Uh, but my faith is important. If it's only a few, you're doing better than most, uh, but I also don't like to wear it on my sleeve. Yeah. You know, my, my Christian faith. Yeah, I think that's fair because a lot of people hear that you're a Christian and they've been hurt by a Christian, or, you know, feeling like they've been, uh, judged by a Christian or, or things I, like, I would say I, part of the reason I'm a Christian is cuz I need more grace than the average person because I have more terrible thoughts and all those things perhaps. I don't know. Um, one more question. Uh, Most people don't know this, or quite a few people do, but I was five one until the end of my sophomore year in high school. So, and then I got a massive growth spurt and turned into this tall guy. But How tall are you, John? You must be only about that tall too. Five, three or four or something. Darn. I missed the growth spurt. Um, to your question, I believe I'm five three, at least that's what my driver's license says. Yeah, yeah. You know, as you get older, sometimes that changes. But five three I think is fair. I mean, that's what I, when I have a physical exam, I that, that's where you're measuring. Yeah, well, you've got almost, because you little guys don't ever get this, but tall guys, especially tall, skinny, wimpy guys have experienced little man syndrome a lot, or Napoleon syndrome. You are almost completely absent of that. Uh, heavily pre prevalent, uh, disease among short guys, you know, so compliments to you on that. Well, I, I appreciate that, and again, I want to be cautious that this is not necessarily a therapy session. Uh, but I I, once again, to be honest, um, you know, being small, maybe looking a little bit different, um, and that gets back to maybe the relationship thing. Yeah. Um, uh, mm-hmm. There's always been a le I'll be honest, there's always been a level of insecurity. Yeah. And, and I've had to overcome that. And I think overall I have, and when people say, You know, if you're gonna be an elected official or a politician, you gotta be a, a mega extrovert on the Meyers Briggs. I'm actually right on the line between I and e. Hmm. And, and, um, I typically am kind of on the introvert side, but once I get going, then it's easier. Yeah. But I, you know, you go to the parties or this and that. It, it's hard for me to, I have to break through before I can really start engaging. Yeah, no, I feel ya. And frankly, gosh, that being that I, I was Kurt to squirt, I was four 11 when I got to seventh grade and I was five one on the end of my 10th grade. And so for four years I basically didn't grow when everybody else was getting big. And I carried that, you know, even after I got to be that strapping six two, a hundred thirty pound college freshman, I still, I was so scared of approaching a girl or anything like that. And so I can appreciate that sentiment, how it takes a while. And, and in your case, you didn't have that gross spurt, so, no, I, yeah. And, and you know, it's interesting approaching a girl and, and, and that's my orientation of course. And yeah. Yeah. I remember growing. you know, I, I always had a lot of good friends. I mean, people felt like a safe space with me. Yeah. And oftentimes, you know, the quote, the girls would let me hang out with them and they'd share all this stuff with me. I'm like, why? You know, but it would really, it was, it was really hard because, um, yeah. Yeah. Because they would be say, well, this is how I feel about this person. And then I really didn't have the, the security or the courage to say, well, by the way, I actually, I think you're swell. Yeah. Yeah. Um, if there's somebody out there that's listening and they, like, you've, you've kind of achieved moving past it. Um, and maybe that's just the time of experience, but is there any words you would have for somebody that just is feeling awkward about that time in their space? Or they're just, whether they're, they don't have to be short, they don't have to be tall because everybody just about feels awkward about themselves. I, I, I think it's important, you know, you hear a lot about this, but I just think that folks, you know, how, how you grow up and. I mean, those of us who have been in loving families are at a, at an advantage. Mm-hmm. you know, if, if like Mila with her two parents Yeah. This kid is like mega loved and that helps to strengthen, you know, what your image of yourself. So I think it's really important to try to love yourself as much as possible and, and to, you know, to affirm who you are. And I think that is really critical, you know, in terms of interacting with other people, whether it's for friendships, platonic or, or perhaps more than that. Well I think that's frankly one of the advantages of having faith in your life is that it's so reinforced that God loves me and if God with all of his powers and capabilities and strength, then whatever loves me, then maybe I should too. Well, and then the as another aspect of that I, I suppose is, um, you know, this whole idea of forgiveness and redemption. Sure. Um, I, I think it's important to be able to forgive and, and to recognize that you also can be forgiven cuz we don't always get it right. Yeah. I think the culture is shifting a little bit to, you know, when, when 10 year old videos are dug out and, and used as a reason to cancel somebody or things like that, it's a really interesting place. Right. Um, because Grace doesn't have the same kind of place in the non-believer as we tie to. And, and, and I guess one other point I'll make perhaps is that, I think that the, the human spirit is incredibly, uh, strong and resilient, unless it's been, you know, unless it's been crushed. And, you know, there's all kinds of ways that we can be hurt and, and, and traumatized. Well, we can respond to it in different ways. We can respond to it in different ways. Uh, but I think ultimately the, you know, the human spirit's really powerful and resilient and, um, It helps us to overcome adversity. Yeah. Yeah. Because adversity is part of life. That's, uh, that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Right. Except for bears, they'll kill you. I have a good grizzly bear story. Yeah. Well, I think it's time. Uh, let's move on to the Loco experience. So this is the crazy story from your lifetime. You set that up, huh? Uh, you know, not intentionally, but, uh, I, I, I flow with my words pretty solid. Uh, let's hear it. Let's, uh, yeah, I'll try to give you the goodness gracious. I'll try to give you the cliff notes version. But, um, so I graduated from CSU in May of 78, I suppose. Okay. And actually I started working for, um, we helped start recycling in, in Fort Collins with Kelly Olsen. Oh, really? Oh, that's cool. I don't know if you remember recycled something. And I, a lot of interesting memories about the original recycling center, which was right there. Yeah. No, I wasn't around it yet. It was right there by Northside Olan. But all that said, I decided, um, I wanted to, I needed to take an adventure, so I, in August of, of 78, I got my backpack and back then it was an external frame, right. And. I, uh, hitchhiked to Fairbank's, Alaska. Okay. And I remember, uh, I remember someone dropping me off at the intersection in, in La Portan Oberland Trail there. Okay. And I had a little cardboard sign that said, Fairbank's, Alaska And I had my back. And cars would drive by and they were like, no. Well, that's the right highway. I mean, 2 87 goes up there a long way. But I had a marker and I realized, okay, a little bit at a time. So I actually put Laramie, Wyoming, and I actually made great progress. It took me 10 days, but I made it to Fairbanks. I had some friends there, and the friend that I was visiting with, And it was actually one of the reasons, uh, that my, uh, my wife, you know, went to Alaska and they didn't, they didn't, they weren't together for very long. Yeah, yeah. Um, but, but that was part of the connection there. That was part of the connection. So went to Fairbanks and, um, my friend, uh, who, who wrote a, you might relate to this, a Norton. We were into British, uh oh yeah. Cars and, and, and motorcycles. Yeah. Triumphs and Norton. He apparently got in a big accident. He was all in a cast, so he couldn't hike. Mm-hmm. So I, I wanted to hike Denali Park and, um, I'd planned this week long trip. I was gonna go solo and the, um, I, I, I got, I hitchhiked to Fairbanks. I took the bus all the way into, you know, where I was gonna put in. And I remember hiking, uh, on the tundra there about three miles in, in set up camp. Uh, but that night was amazing cuz I was all by myself. Um, on the tundra. Yeah. Northern Lights rocking out the north. Gosh, the northern I, I got the whole, I got the triple, uh, the northern Lights rocking out. Then at some point the, the full moon came up and Denali, you could see it cuz it wasn't Oh wow. It wasn't ki So that was an amazing evening. Next morning I, um, I had a big pack cuz it was like a 60 pound pack. And going back to the five foot three thing, it took me a while to get that pack on broke camp, had breakfast, broke camp was getting ready to put my pack on, and I see this grizzly bear charging towards me and I thought to myself, that's not good. Right. So, um, long story short, I, I set the pack. I backed away. I got down on the ground. I sort of played dead, although I had my camera and I tried to take a couple of pictures, but that didn't work out. So he wasn't charging you specifically? He was just curious. Kind of. He was curious running upon you Almost. But I think, I think I had some things in my pack that put out a scent, like mm-hmm. You know, you're not really supposed to bring any fresh food. I might have had some carrots or scallions. That's a good one. Right. Um, so in the end he wound up going for the pack. He tore it apart. Wow. Um, I was there, kind of stuck there for at least an hour or so. I would, um, he would, uh, stop and go by the stream, kind of light on, take a nap. I'd get up and move and eventually I was able to get away. But, uh, that was like, did you leave me pack behind? Uh, it was, it was demolished And then I made it back to the road and told the rangers, they went back down there. Well, first they said to me, well, you should have just thrown a rock some rocks at 'em. I might have caused them, you know, to, to go the other way. And I like, it's a big bear. a big bear. Yes. And I said to them, well, that's easier for you to say cuz you guys went down there to look at what happened. And you had a tranquilizer guns, for example. Right. And a backup high power rifle. So in the end, the bear was there, bear went off. It was a, it was an. They had different areas that they, the way they did their backpacking, you know, they, um, the, the backcountry permits and all of that. Hmm. And it was an area where there had been a lot of encounters between humans and bears. Yeah. And, and they picked up the pieces of my, uh, of my pack and, and uh, needless to say, my trip was, um, my one week backpack trip was cut short. Right. So I had to hitchhike back with a duffle bag. Well, I appreciate you taking time to, to spend with this bear, uh, on our podcast today. And, uh, oh, that's, that's part of my, my crazy heritage, by the way. Um, cuz I was born in August of 74 and 74 is the year of the tiger. August is the month of Leo. And so I'm lion and tiger and bear by birth. That's great. I, I can see that in you, John. Um, is there any last words of wisdom out there? Or if somebody wants to find you, can they just like email you or something like that at the county or, sure. Um, I'm not sure if I have any additional words of wisdom, if I have any words of wisdom. I just wanna say that I actually have enjoyed this a lot. Good. And I really appreciate you too, rethinking of me. Um, and I hope there's some value to our conversation to other folks who might listen. So thank you very much for this experience. Pleasure. Uh, in terms of, um, you know, if folks want to contact me, uh, for county business, you know, my email is jay kafa larimer.org. My cell phone number is public (720) 254-7598. And if it's for personal political stuff, as long as Fry is still with us front range internet. Oh, right. Uh, I, John k1@fry.com is the what I use for, you know, things that, that are not county business cuz I separated out. Well I've enjoyed this very much as well and um, I would be happy to spend another two hours with you. Uh, and we might not do it on a podcast over coffee instead. So know that I, I look forward to that opportunity too. That would be great. And perhaps if you get fabulous reviews on this podcast, who knows? Maybe Yeah. In a year or two you might wanna have me back. Oh, I would have you back for sure. For sure. Uh, but, but we probably will wait for at least a year cuz that's the way we do things around here. But, uh, yeah, share it with all your friends. I know you got a lot more friends than I do probably after 20 years of service plus. Yeah, that's, uh, that's, I run into a lot of folks. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Well thank you. It is Bejo and, uh, equally sincerely appreciate all your service and, and your time here today. Thank you, Kurt. Got speed.