When Denver Republican Martin Oakes moved to Lincoln County in 1997, the intersection of Highways 16 and 73 had just received its first stoplight, and was home to little more than a gas station and a grocery store.
The area has grown immensely since then, as has Oakes’s interest and involvement in county politics.
He said he fell in with a group of neighbors that was active in advocating for the county’s eastern end with the Board of Commissioners, but soon felt the pull to step off the sidelines.
“I finally decided it was time to start doing something about it instead of listening to it,” he said. “That’s why I decided to get into politics. The reason for doing all that is to try to make life better. My grandkids are probably going to be here for a long time.”
The 2014 election isn’t Oakes’s first. He ran for the Board of Commissioners in 2008, and finished sixth in the nine-man Republican primary field. He ran again in 2010, and missed the primary cut by 10 votes to commissioner Jim Klein, whose seat is one of the two being vacated this year. Klein went on to win a runoff with current commissioner Cecilia Martin.
Oakes was born in England, moved to Canada when he was very young and attended college at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
He got into the computer and software industry in its early days, and traveled to Europe where he produced business models for large companies and started his own firm.
He later came back to the U.S. and eventually, when he and his wife, Elsie, were deciding where to retire, moved to Lincoln County from outside Boston.
He’s father to a son who has a career in the Army and a daughter who lives nearby her parents. He has four grandchildren.
He said his background in analytics, particularly financial modeling, will be an asset for the pocketbooks of county residents.
“Activity-based costing tells you what you need to know about your business,” he said. “I honestly don’t think government is any different. You need to look at things and say, ‘Ok, you’re doing this activity, what is it costing us, what’s the profit?’ It’s hard to measure profit in government in some cases because you can’t put a profit number on, for instance, the Sheriff’s Department. You have to have it. I look at things and say, ‘what’s that expenditure good for?’”
Oakes said he plays tennis a couple of times a week, is on the legislative affairs committee for the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, serves as assistant treasurer for the U.S. House 10th District Republican Party and is on the state GOP credentials committee. He was named Republican of the Year by the Lincoln County GOP in 2012.