MONUMENT • Although having to circumvent a rocky start to his term as the new mayor of Monument, Mitch LaKind continues to remain focused on public service.
As LaKind and his partner Carol began searching for homes around the Pikes Peak region in December 2017, at first they were unimpressed by some of the areas and homes their Realtor was showing them. Then they came across some homes in Monument, which they liked.
They drove around the area and fell for the views of the mountains, the trees in the area, the downtown area and Monument Lake, LaKind said. When the couple became empty nesters in 2017, they made Monument their home.
LaKind said service is what defines him as well as the influences of special people throughout his life, both family and those he’s encountered in his career in the information technology industry. His history of service began with joining the U.S. Navy after high school.
“I didn’t come from a wealthy family,” LaKind said. “I watched my parents struggle to make ends meet my entire childhood. I realized toward the end of high school that I did not have a real plan, so I joined the military to serve my country, get educated and see the world.”
Having enjoyed his time in military service, and later working as an adult advisor to a religious youth group and serving his community, LaKind has learned service, being involved and giving back is what defines him, he said.
“Those who influenced me had something in common. They were caring, compassionate and supportive,” LaKind said. “Always providing positive reinforcement with a dose of tough love when needed.”
The new mayor’s career path in IT also began in military service. While preparing to graduate from high school, LaKind was still determining what he wanted to do as a career. His family did not have a computer at home, and he does not recall his high school having a computer lab.
However, after reporting for his first duty station in the Navy in 1987, he was introduced to computers for the first time.
“My department had a new PC to be used as a training tool for the Operations Specialist rating, and I was assigned to get it working,” LaKind said. “My leadership thought I had previous experience with PCs due to my just having graduated from high school.”
LaKind soon became proficient with getting all the department’s PCs functioning across his stationed ship — work that he found enjoyable. As additional opportunities to become educated in technology arose, he took advantage of them. At the time, he didn’t know it would lead to a career in IT, he said.
However, LaKind decided to find work in IT after he was out of Navy service and attended community college. It allowed him to continue working with technology and became a career goal.
“Thirty years later, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in some of the largest enterprise IT environments for companies like Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Charles Schwab, Siemens and CVS Health,” he said. “I attribute my longevity to my desire to continue learning about the latest technologies that allow people to be more productive, both professionally and personally.”
LaKind’s first opportunity to volunteer in his community was when he returned to Phoenix, Arizona, after military service, and began attending college. A friend told him about a youth group that was looking for adult advisors one night per week. He said he observed the group a few times and soon decided to join, co-advising one chapter. The group had hundreds of chapters in more than 50 countries, which taught high school-aged kids the importance of benevolence and harmony, he said.
“Many of the lessons learned by these kids, I’ve carried with me all these years later,” LaKind said. “It made sense to say ‘yes’ when members of Monument’s town staff asked me if I would volunteer for one of its boards in 2018. I didn’t think about running for office, however.”
Since announcing his candidacy for mayor over the summer, LaKind feels he has risen above the fray, which provided him a chance to show the kind of person he is, he said.
“I was fortunate to have support from many people in Monument and around El Paso County,” he said. “They kept me informed and provided excellent advice. Unfortunately, I heard a lot about the mud being slung in my direction, which continues today with blatant lies and accusations. But I won’t go into the gutter with people like this. I know who I am and what I have accomplished, and these people will not be able to take that away from me.”
As a citizen of Monument, LaKind said he would like to see the town have the goods and services locally available to residents of the Tri-Lakes communities to prevent them from having to drive to Colorado Springs or the Denver metro areas to obtain them.
“Not everything needs to move to Monument, but it would be nice if we had options in the region that provided us all a variety of quality restaurants, shopping, parks and entertainment,” he said. “It would also benefit the community if we had more options for professional employment in the form of business or technology hubs for those of us still in the workforce who do not want to work from home or commute hours each day.”
LaKind also said he would like to see a modern entertainment district in Monument which would become a local destination for residents of the Tri-Lakes region, but also attract those from out of town. This could include higher-end sit-down restaurants, a variety of shopping experiences, movie theaters, hotels and sports complexes for youth and adults, he said.
It is important to acknowledge what people say to know they are being heard and what is being given attention, LaKind said about being in an elected leadership role.
“As much as I talk when I feel there is a need, all leaders should be active listeners,” he said.
“I have 70 employees that report to me. I spend a great deal of time in meetings but make the time necessary to speak to each of them regularly.”
Knowing the voters of Monument have chosen LaKind to be mayor, he said he feels humbled. He had scheduled attempts to meet with the community after he was elected to the Board of Trustees in April 2020, but these were canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, which he said was disappointing.
However, the recent election cycle has been different, he said.
“I met so many great people at the events I held, but also around town at Serranos, Wesley Owens and Rosie’s,” LaKind said. “I want the residents to know that despite all the distractions, I remain focused on making sure that the new council will function effectively and efficiently and will not violate the trust of the people.
“We have much work to do to implement the Home Rule Charter, create a new comprehensive plan and parks master plan, and create two new committees to assist in design review and economic development.”
LaKind has said he plans to host quarterly Town Hall events for community members to have a forum to voice concerns and make suggestions for improvement.
“I want those that live in the greater Tri-Lakes area to know that I recognize the importance of your voice and economic contributions to Monument,” he said.
“When I begin hosting quarterly town halls, I hope many of you will come and speak with me.”