Raised on a Ranch, Extreme Sports and Then Security
A conversation with Hannah Hannah, the Republican candidate for the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners District 1 ranges from ranch, to traveling the world, to late nights guarding rental properties in questionable areas of metro Denver. It is this variety of background says Hannah that led her to accept the idea from Chaffee Republican Chair Dave Williams to run for office.
“We were at the Lincoln Dinner. He asked me if I’d ever thought of running for office and I knew in my heart this was what I am supposed to do. I had always wanted to serve in the military, then found out women couldn’t be in combat. I wanted to be in the front lines. Government was meant to be by the people, for the people and I feel that isn’t in existence [now].”
Hannah is divorced but kept her married name because of her two boys. She says that her ranch upbringing is a big part of what makes her – her. “The parts that are me, my values come from my upbringing; I was born and raised in a ranch house in Monte Vista, CO. I was homeschooled for half my schooling life and grew up on that ranch for almost 32 years. “We ran 2,000 to 3,000 sheep and 750 to 1,000 head of cattle on our 2,000 ranch.”
Like most ranch kids, they worked hard, and when it came to 4-H they worked harder. “We teased our mom on how hard she drove us. We had to train twice a day, out at the crack of dawn, getting our horse ready. Then in the afternoon… we were back out there the afternoon when the horseflies were gone.”
She left the ranch to attend high school and got into extreme sports. Her parents got her a ski pass and she began skiing with her homeschool group.“I decided then I wanted to be a professional and extreme sports athlete.” She said after school she moved to Montana and while she planned to become an extreme skier, there was this other season – summer. She ended up becoming an extreme mountain biker.
“I was the first female to perform a backflip on a mountain bike. It drove my career, I raced for Gary Fisher Mountain Bikes. We traveled the world; I met my boys’ father who is still a pro mountain biker. We’re good friends, but we didn’t stay married. The boys and I moved here to live two-and-a-half-years ago because he’s here.”
After leaving the racing world, Hannah gravitated to business, starting her own jewelry design business, getting a real estate license, and joining her father in his real estate business near South Fork. Then she became the social media manager for her brother’s business R Investments, which buys distressed properties nationwide (it has several in Denver).
“The company buys multi-family housing in communities that no one looks at and creates safe housing. It’s fully integrated, we own our own construction company, our own property management group and our own nonprofit.
Hannah said, “growing up in our family we were always helping — we operate hugely on love and respect for our resident clients. This, she explained is their term for individuals who live in places where there is poverty; “these individuals are our residents, but they are also our clients, not just renters.”
Because of the neighborhoods, Hannah explained, they needed security. “That’s how I came to start R’Angels, a security firm that hires ex-felons as guards.”
Hannah described nights wearing body armor, guarding properties, including ‘the second most dangerous hotel in Aurora’, where she and her security people broke up fights, trying to make sure the gangs and drugs and other ‘heavy issues’ didn’t get out of hand. “That property was going to be shut down, and we stepped in hard and heavy – with love and respect.”
Asked how she did that, she said they wore bullet-proof vests and carried weapons. The police warned them that they were getting thousands of calls about the place. She remembers one night breaking up a fight at midnight, and at the same time people rolling up with their kids in red wagons looking for a place to sleep. “There were so many experiences there where people changed their lives.”
Asked about this setup, which appears to be an extended stay hotel, with people there for months, and whether it meets city codes for long-term stays versus 30-day maximum stays, Hannah said she only ran the security side; “I had nothing to do with the city code side of things”.
“The reason some of these extended stay hotels exist, the chances of these people being able to rent again through a credit check process is low, so these extended stay hotels give them a place to get back on their feet.”
Hannah says she has a promise for Chaffee families if she is elected. “We’re busy, raising kids, running businesses– I say I’ll watch your back, you go run your lives. Even on the local level, my desire is truly to bring government back to ‘by the people and for the people’ and inspire people to care again about local government.”