Gibbs: Ready for another term
Summit County correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” Scrolling through the long list of contacts on his his cell phone that he has amassed in his two years at the capitol, state Sen. Dan Gibbs claims he has an advantage that will help solve problems in Summit County if he is elected for another term.
“I have made the connections, and I’ve built the trust,” Gibbs said. “So when it comes time to solve problems, I know who to call to get the answers.”
Gibbs, who is campaigning for the Senate seat for the first time ” he moved from the House last year to fill a vacancy ” is considered by many as an up-and-comer in the state Democratic party.
In 2006, he shocked former longtime lawmaker Ken Chlouber of Leadville to win the seat for House District 56, comprised of Eagle, Lake and Summit counties.
In his first session in the House, Gibbs won approval for a tougher truck-chain law ” taking on the powerful trucking lobby ” and carved out state funds for forest-health projects to address the mountain pine beetle outbreak.
After just one year at the capitol, he was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Joan Fitz-Gerald in the Colorado Senate, where he continued his impressive pace, passing a grand total of 22 of the 26 bills he carried.
“It’s been the experience of a lifetime,” said Gibbs, who lives in Summit County. said. “I want to be know for common-sense proposals, and I think my track record already proves what I am about.”
He claims his most significant achievement this year was killing a proposed Interstate 70 toll, one that would have changed the lives of Summit County residents dramatically.
“I worked night and day to defeat that bill, which was proposed without even talking to anyone in our county,” Gibbs said. “It wasn’t easy to defeat, but we did it in a bipartisan fashion, which is how I approach everything.”
Tall and angular, the 32-year-old, sandy-haired former competitive Nordic skier honed his chops in politics working for Congressman Mark Udall, whom he mimics in carriage and viewpoint.
In typical fashion, Gibbs is campaigning the old-fashioned way, wearing out the soles of his cowboy boots as he walks door to door to talk to his constituents.
“People are always a little surprised to see me when they open the door,” Gibbs said. “But I think it is important to be aware of what the community needs.”
In addition to seeking solutions for congestion on I-70, Gibbs continues to focus on forest health and the local economy, two issues he believes are paramount in the minds of Summit County voters.
“We need to create a healthy business climate because so many up here depend on tourism,” Gibbs said. “And tourism goes hand in hand with forest health. We need to bring in more resources to prevent wildfires, so we can continue to live in an area where people want to come and recreate.”
Also a certified wildland firefighter, Gibbs was named the chairman of an interim legislative committee to study wildfire issues following this year’s legislative session.
In the last session, Gibbs passed passed his second bill in as many years that doles out state funds to support forest-health projects that protect critical watersheds.
“Colorado families are safer from the risks of wildfires because of that bill,” Gibbs said. “I am always so amazed when I see my bills acted out, and I feel blessed that I get to make these changes for my community.”
Looking toward November, Gibbs is confident about his campaign strategy and feels his connection to the community will give him an advantage over his opponent, Evergreen resident and first-time candidate Don Ytterburg.
“I don’t know much about him,” Gibbs said. “But I’m pretty confident knowing I am the only person running for state Senate that has passed 22 bills and has been involved in solving problems from this community. All of that stands by itself.”
Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at email@example.com.