Colo. mayor a politician who can't stand politics

In the past half-century, America has had 10 presidents But in Paoli, Colorado, it's just one mayor. CBS News Steve Hartman met him on the road.

At 55 mph, blink and you'll miss the town. Even with a guide driving 5 mph, it blows by.

But if you ever come to a full and complete stop in Paoli, Colorado -- population 50 -- and sit down with its 84-year-old mayor, Virgil Harms, you'll find a real attraction here: A politician who can't stand politics.

Steve: "We're here to talk about your political career. "

Virgil: "Oh."

Steve: "What do you think when you watch politics on TV?"

Virgil: "I try to find another channel. What do you do?"

Steve: "I'm the channel you're changing from." (laughter).

Virgil may not be great for ratings but I think he'd make a great president. A farmer by trade -- I've always believed if someone wants to run the country he should know how to run a tractor first. Secondly, he's a simpleton when it comes to money. Virgil believes if you borrow it -- like Paoli had to do for a new water system -- you actually pay it back.

Virgil: "We paid it back three years early."

Steve: "Paid it back three years early?"

Virgil: "We had the money and didn't want to pay interest."

Steve: "Oh, this is why you can't be a politician. You got to borrow it and don't pay it back."

Virgil: "That ain't the way it's done."

But what really separates him from Washington is that under his leadership, "Republican" is a dirty word not to be spoken. So is "Democratic."

"You don't run as a Democrat or Republican. I think the rest of the country ought to be that way," said Virgil.

"We don't have sides," said Marilyn Miller, postmaster and town clerk. Asked how things have gone under Harms' rule, she said: "Pretty smooth."

Virgil said it worked pretty well and that everybody seems to be satisfied. So satisfied, his constituents have kept him in office 50 years. They don't even bother having elections anymore. Of course the problem making him president is the same problem you face getting anyone from out in the country -- to run the country.

"You couldn't get me there," he said.

Most are just too smart for it.

"I'm happy right here," said Virgil.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.