Routt County native Dylan Roberts running for Colorado House of Representatives | VailDaily.com

Routt County native Dylan Roberts running for Colorado House of Representatives

EAGLE — Dylan Roberts' roots run deep in the state House or Representatives district he wants to represent.

Roberts grew up in Routt County and works in Eagle County, the two counties that comprise House District 26.

"I spent almost my entire life in this district and feel privileged to do so," Roberts said.

Democrats appointed Roberts to his seat when Diane Mitsch Bush resigned a year ago.

"The fact that I'm here is still a surprise to me," Roberts said. "It appealed to me because I have such deep connection to both counties."

His parents still live in Steamboat Springs, and his sister is a second-grade teacher in Routt County.

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Different when it's your own campaign

Roberts, a Democrat, has run a couple of campaigns, including Barack Obama's Western Colorado campaign, but this is his first time running his own. Launching a campaign, he said, smiling, is like building a plane as it's taking off.

"It's different when you're the one knocking on doors. You're connecting with people, and when they ask you questions, you have to tell them what you believe," he said. "When you're the one asking for their vote, you're accountable for everything that comes out of your campaign."

Roberts worked in the Capitol during the last legislative session and relished the experience.

"The state legislature is still a place where good things can get done. Washington, D.C., can seem so hopeless sometimes. Everything is so partisan there. In the statehouse, people are still willing to roll up their sleeves and get things done," Roberts said.

Roberts passed six bills to do things such as free up some of Colorado Mountain College's financial assets so they could pay teachers more. Another cracks down on companies trying to sell students homework and essays for college courses.

The Rural Economic Advancement of Colorado Towns simplifies the process by which small towns can get state government help when industries leave. Colorado has several programs and grants that provide help, but they're far-flung and hard to find. This bill puts those programs under the Department of Local Affairs, Roberts said.

It's about relationships

"When we're at the Capitol, we have 120 days to get our work done. If you want to be a successful legislator, you have to be able to establish relationships. You're only going to get a bill passed if you're willing to work across the aisle and can discuss what it means for their districts," Roberts said.

He said he counts Republicans among some of his best friends in the statehouse. Bob Rankin, for example, represents Garfield County, and many of its problems are the same.

Health insurance costs in rural Colorado have skyrocketed. Denver and Boulder don't feel those kinds of price increases, Roberts said.

A bill to force price transparency for medical procedures died in a committee, but he expects to see it again in the upcoming session. The lack of insurance competition in rural areas is another factor, Roberts said.

Roberts did his undergraduate studies at Boston College because he wanted to experience a city and still be a ski racer. He wasn't putting down roots on the East Coast, and when he graduated, he headed back for law school at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

He wants to continue a career, have a family and buy a home. He said he and his girlfriend both have professional jobs, but it's tough to find an affordable place to rent so they can save money and buy a home.

He said he has been accused to being a career politician.

"I've been doing this for less than a year, so I cannot imagine how this could be considered a career," Roberts said.

At the Capitol, you'll find show horses and work horses. The show horses are like microphone-seeking missiles, making statements to anyone and posting them to social media.

The work horses care about legislation.

"They do their committee work, read the bills and vote in their district's best interests," Roberts said. "I'm doing this because I want to get things done. I'm not going to do this for my entire career. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to serve right now."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.