Matt Solomon, former Eagle Town Council member, to run for Colorado Senate

Solomon files paperwork to challenge Dylan Roberts to represent Senate District 8

Matt Solomon was twice elected as an Eagle Town Council member, serving the town for a total of nearly six years.
Matt Solomon/Courtesy photo

Former Eagle Town Council member Matt Solomon will challenge state Rep. Dylan Roberts for a seat in the Colorado Senate.

A state senate run was something Solomon said he had been encouraged to pursue previously but had not seriously considered until last month.

“I was asked by members of the state and local Republican Party to consider it,” he said. “I called probably a dozen people that I’ve known for a while that are very candid, and I fully expected them to tell me, ‘Don’t do it.'”

“But everything was so positive and supportive that I said, ‘You know what? I think I’m ready to commit. I think I can do this,'” Solomon said.

After a few weeks of deliberation and introspection, he filed his candidate affidavit to run in Senate District 8 with the Colorado Secretary of State at the end of January.

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Senate District 8 is currently represented by Bob Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale, but the newly redrawn Colorado Senate District Map puts Rankin’s hometown of Carbondale in Senate District 5. Eagle County, where Solomon and Roberts both live, will be in Senate District 8, according to the new map.

Roberts, a Democrat who lives in Avon, filed his paperwork to run on Dec. 8 and launched his campaign soon after. He and Solomon must garner at least 30% of votes from Colorado State Assembly delegates to overcome the first hurdle in moving forward with their candidacies.

Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino, a fellow Republican, also announced his intentions to run at the start of the month. If both Cimino and Solomon make it through the Colorado State Assembly, they will go head-to-head in a spring primary.

Solomon said he spoke to Cimino recently and the two made a “gentlemen’s agreement” to avoid any mudslinging in the primary.

“I want to bring our district together. I don’t want to divide us like we’ve seen in politics over the last six years,” Solomon said. “We really need to heal as a district and as a country and I think it starts at this grassroots level — local and state elections — where we realize we’re in this together, we’re neighbors. I think we can be leaders that show that it can be done that way.”

The state’s Republican and Democratic primary elections are open to voters of any party, voters just need to pick one, so Solomon and Cimino will need to appeal to a broader base than in closed primaries.

In assessing the feasibility of his state senate run, Solomon acknowledged that he may be an underdog in “ski counties” like Summit and Eagle, with Roberts’s tenure as a state representative giving him the upper hand.

However, last year’s redistricting turned Senate District 8 into the third largest in the state, spanning across 10 counties from Clear Creek in the southeast corner to Moffat County in the northwest.

The new Colorado Senate District 8 is 10 counties, and includes essentially all the northwest quarter of the state.
Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions

Within the district as a whole, Solomon said he feels confident that a shot at the general election would mean “a very even race.”

In January 2023, when the new map takes effect, Rankin will move to Senate District 5, and the winner of the November general election will represent Senate District 8 for the next four years. While state senators earn four-year terms, Rankin will have to run again in 2024 to maintain his seat in Senate District 5.

But that is all far on the horizon, Solomon said. For now, he is focusing on meeting the more immediate challenges of launching his campaign, which are a lot like starting a business, he said.

“Let’s just say my phone hasn’t stopped and you should see my calendar,” Solomon said with a laugh. “It’s really busy, but it’s also very exciting.”

As with any start-up, “You’ve got to vet the business, right — is it viable?”

This stage took up much of Solomon’s January, as he sought the counsel of trusted advisors and representatives of the Eagle County and Colorado Republican central committees.

He even consulted with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who Solomon said he has been working for over the last year.

Then came the internal reflection on what he might bring to the role, Solomon said. He feels his diverse background across the public and private sectors would aid him in serving the multitude of constituents contained in Senate District 8.

As a young professional, Solomon spent nine years working as a paramedic for the Western Eagle County Ambulance District before it became Eagle County Paramedics. He served as a deputy coroner for four years and was twice elected as an Eagle Town Council member, serving the town for a total of nearly six years.

Solomon resigned from the Town Council at the end of July, leaving his post early to ensure that his seat would be filled by local voters rather than by appointment.

“I wanted to exit with grace, and I wanted to exit with the public in mind,” he said then.

Matt Solomon, then an Eagle Town Council member, cuts the ribbon on the Eagle River Park in 2019 with Anne McKibbin, then the mayor of Eagle.
Vail Daily archive

As a Town Council member, Solomon created “many six to one votes” with his unyielding commitment to the things that impassioned him, Eagle Mayor Scott Turnipseed said.

“It’s good to bring a different perspective and not be afraid to go against the grain, … and he certainly wasn’t, and he was consistent, he stood up for what he believed in and didn’t want to compromise on things that he felt strongly about, that’s for sure,” Turnipseed said in an August interview.

This tendency to look ahead before moving forward and slow down if needed will be even more important at the state level, Solomon said.

“At the state level, the ripple effect of little decisions is that much bigger than the municipal or the county level,” he said. “Instead of voting for (legislation) because it sounds good, let’s work on the details of it so it truly is good and so that the spirit and the intention match up to the best possible outcome.”

Roberts has gotten a lot done since being elected to represent Colorado’s House District 26 in 2017, Solomon acknowledged, adding that he disagrees with some of Roberts’ “partisan politics.”

Solomon will need to show voters that he can also move quickly when necessary so that this unyielding commitment is not seen as contrarianism or slow-walking.

“That comes down to having an ability to communicate,” he said.

“Being a representative, it’s not about me,” Solomon said. “My values weigh into who I am, and that’s what helps me weigh the scales of decision-making, but my personal opinions come last. It’s my constituents and the Constitution that come first.”

Beyond public service, Solomon started multiple businesses within the outdoor sports industry before founding Alpine Arms, Eagle’s gun store, in 2008. He sold the business in 2018.

He has also spent the last 11 years working with the U.S. Military, running pre-deployment training exercises for troops, he said.

This election cycle, the timing for a state senate run just felt right, Solomon said.

“And now, I’ve got to put the pieces in place to build the brand,” he said in an interview Monday. “You figure out your strategy and your marketing and the most important part is I have to listen to everybody.”

“I’m not the smartest one in the room, but I’ll listen and I’ll seek information,” Solomon said.

He will have his work cut out for him as he begins touring the vast expanse of what will become Senate District 8, meeting with county commissioners and state assembly members. Solomon said he plans to officially launch his campaign in the coming weeks.

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