EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado " Christine Scanlan has a great deal more work to do now than when she worked in the lower ranks of the ski industry in Summit County.
Scanlan worked as a lift operator and children's ski instructor in Keystone to pay for college when she was 19 years old, she said.
"It was great," Scanlan said. "I don't regret any of that."
Scanlan was picked in December to serve as the Democratic state representative in House District 56, which includes Eagle County. Eagle County's former representative, Dan Gibbs, was appointed in November to fill the place of Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, who resigned to run for Congress.
Scanlan used to be senior vice president and chief operating officer of The Keystone Center and Keystone Science School. Now she works there part time to take on her role as a legislator.
She is also president of the Summit School District Board of Education.
"I'm putting a lot of miles on my car, and I guess that's just my reality," Scanlan said.
Scanlan used to have a pass with 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek mountains but doesn't have that kind of pass anymore. Now she mostly skis at Arapahoe Basin, she said.
"I have great affection for the place," she said.
Will she make it to Vail or Beaver Creek mountains to ski this season?
"I would love that opportunity," she said.
New New Wallace, co-chair of the Eagle County Democratic Party, helped select Scanlan along with a committee of other Democrats from Eagle, Summit and Lake counties.
Scanlan was the committee's "hands-down first choice," Wallace said.
Scanlan also plans to run for the seat in the November election. Carole Onderdonk, co-vice chair of the Eagle County Democratic Party, is happy Scanlan will run like Gibbs did. Gibbs campaigned door-to-door and talked to people about issues, she said.
"She really wants to get to know people in Eagle (County)," Onderdonk said.
Onderdonk was also on the committee that selected Scanlan.
"Dan Gibbs is a tough act to follow, but she certainly seems to have the energy," Onderdonk said.
Ali Hasan, a Beaver Creek Republican, also will run for the House seat.
Scanlan grew up in Colorado and graduated from Columbine High School in Littleton. She earned her bachelor's degree in history and a master's in nonprofit organization management from Regis University.
Scanlan joined The Keystone Center in 1994. The nonprofit is known for its role in cleaning up Rocky Flats, a former nuclear-weapons-manufacturing plant near Boulder.
This summer, Scanlan was part of a group that gave Gov. Bill Ritter ideas to improve public schools in Colorado. That's when she realized she could benefit education in Summit County and surrounding areas at the state level, she said.
"I saw a chance to really make a difference," she said.
She lives in Dillon with her husband, Tim, and three teenage daughters, and she works in Denver from Monday through Friday as a legislator.
Scanlan said she might take a lower position on the school board, but she wants to remain on the board at least until November 2009, when her term expires.
"I think we're playing a bit by ear," she said.
Eagle County's problems
Scanlan is taking on issues that Gibbs had been working on, she said.
She wants to continue to vie for state and federal money to fight the pine-beetle problem that is killing lodgepole pine trees in Eagle County and other counties, she said.
"That is probably one of the most important things I'll do this session," she said.
Scanlan also wants to improve traffic that clogs Interstate 70 in the mountains on weekends, she said. That has become a "major" economic problem because tourists won't come and spend money in the mountains when the drive takes too long, she said.
"We're potentially losing a lot of revenue," she said.
Scanlan also will co-sponsor a bill that will better prepare Colorado students for college, she said.
That will include changing classes such as Algebra 2, where students scrape the surface of several objectives rather than learning more in fewer lessons, she said.
"We tend to focus on a breadth of knowledge, and what we want is depth," she said.
The Summit Daily News contributed to this report. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.