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Bremer, Tonkins, Frederick compete in District 5 race

June 6, 2018 Updated: June 7, 2018 at 6:55 pm
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photo - Cami Bremer (Photo via Facebook)
Cami Bremer (Photo via Facebook) 

A member of a well-connected local political family, a Christian ministry founder and an owner of a marijuana-friendly bed and breakfast are competing to become the next District 5 El Paso County commissioner.

The Republican nominees are Cami Bremer, the wife of former county GOP chairman Eli Bremer, and Vickie Tonkins, who runs a nonprofit serving at-risk youth with her husband.

Kari Frederick, owner of Colorado Springs' "Lofty Living Bud and Breakfast," which allows marijuana use, will also appear on the November ballot as the sole Democratic candidate.

The district, one of two that will elect a new commissioner in November, is represented by term-limited commissioner Peggy Littleton and includes much of central Colorado Springs east of Interstate 25.

In separate interviews, Bremer and Tonkins said their work in the public and private sector has given them the acumen to find community-based solutions to local issues, such as homelessness.

Bremer, 37, was governmental affairs director for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce at a time when local governments were working to establish the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, which authorized a 1 percent sales tax for area transportation projects after it was voted into existence in 2004.

She has also worked as a public communications specialist with the City of Colorado Springs and, until recently, as a program manager at the Penrose Cancer Center.

She emphasized the need for the board to maintain a good relationship with the city and to partner with nonprofits and other private entities to solve community issues.

"The government needs to be willing to work hand in hand with those and let everybody do what they do best," said Bremer, whose father-in-law, Duncan Bremer, previously served as the District 1 Commissioner.

If elected, she said she would make it a priority to prepare for the growth the district is expected to experience in the coming decades - without sacrificing quality of life for residents.

Tonkins, who in 2015 ran unsuccessfully for one of three at-large Colorado Springs City Council seats, previously worked in the business development office in her hometown of Hickory, N.C.

The 55-year-old said her past experience - from working at James Irwin Charter Middle School during its early years to her current job, performing corporate training sessions for Chicago-based ComPsych - makes her a well-rounded candidate.

She hopes to bring a voice back to those who feel underrepresented and limit government interference in residents' lives, she said.

"When I think of government, there are few things that government is supposed to do. Everything else is required by the community," she said.

Tonkins, a vocal opponent of legal recreational marijuana, said she has ideas to address issues with illegal grows in El Paso County, although she declined to share them.

Frederick, 47, told the Gazette in March she decided to run after she sought to expand her business and county staff told her not to waste her money because commissioners wouldn't approve her land-use application.

But in a more recent interview, she said dissatisfaction with the national political landscape under President Donald Trump empowered her.

"I live like most people in Colorado Springs live. I want a good life. I want a peaceful life. I want to be able to prosper," she said. "I'm willing to think outside of the box."

If elected, Frederick would push for recreational marijuana shops in unincorporated areas, which would generate tax revenue for the county, and advocate for venues where people could safely and legally use marijuana.

She would also advocate for affordable-housing projects and land-use decisions that would encourage economically diverse neighborhoods, she said.

Through May 31, Bremer had raised about $34,500, loaned her campaign $15,500, and spent about $23,700, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State's Office.

Tonkins had raised about $15,000, loaned her campaign about $3,000, and spent about $10,600.

Frederick had not raised or spent any money on her campaign, according to the reports.

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