Olen Lund’s Colorado roots run deep; two-time Delta County commissioner running for state senate
Editor’s note: The Vail Daily will introduce readers to candidates for statewide political office as they campaign in the region. In this edition is Republican Olen Lund, running for Colorado Senate District 5. Find more election coverage at http://www.vaildaily.com/election.
EDWARDS — So far, Olen Lund has driven 17,389 miles over 42 trips across Colorado’s Senate District 5. He’s on his second set of tires.
Lund, a Republican, is running to represent seven Colorado counties that range from some of Colorado’s richest — Pitkin and Eagle — to its poorest. That’s Colorado’s Senate District 5.
“I don’t have an agenda. I’m going there to be the voice of the people in this district,” Lund said.
River and water works
Lund served two terms on Delta County’s Board of County Commissioners, 2004 through 2012. He has been the chairman of the Painted Sky Resource Conservation and Development Council, a Colorado water commissioner and has been an active member in his local church since he was a young man, he said.
“In my county commissioner campaigns, we beat back a close ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton — beat him and the Washington, D.C., connections he brought to the race,” Lund said.
He said he expects more of the same in his state senate race.
“I know that beating back the money and influence coming out of Denver will be hard work,” Lund said. “(My wife) Debbie and I have never known anything other than hard work.”
Lund helped build consensus among farmers, environmentalists, ranchers and recreationalists to modify an irrigation dam on the Gunnison River, which enabled passage of both endangered fish and recreational boaters along the river. Because of that project, boaters can navigate the Gunnison and Colorado rivers from the Black Canyon National Park to the Glen Canyon Dam at Page, Arizona, he said.
Health insurance and broadband
Health care and astronomical health insurance costs are an issue all around the district, and that’s something a state senator can influence, Lund said.
“A big part is competitiveness and access to care, including community medical clinics,” Lund said.
State lawmakers can help make that possible, he said.
Price transparency — making it easy for consumers and patients to learn what procedures cost in different places — would be another, he said.
Wider access to broadband would be a big plus in that, he said.
Delta County’s economy was pounded when area coal mines cut back, shedding scores of jobs. They’re trying to replace those high-paying jobs by helping people launch businesses. That, too, requires wider access to high-speed broadband than that area now has, Lund said, and that’s something with which the state legislature can help, he said.
His wife has been a public school teacher for 20 years. She now teaches middle school math for an online school and has students all over the state and Rocky Mountain West.
Funding is fundamental, but some of the issues with education will not be solved by throwing more money at them, Lund said.
“I’m not saying teachers are not underpaid. I’m not saying that at all,” Lund said.
When educators met with state lawmakers, money was a major issue, as it should be, Lund said.
However, the educators were as concerned with the public’s perception of them, or lack thereof, as professionals. Even the educators themselves, with whom those lawmakers met, kept talking about the physicians, engineers, Boettcher Scholars and other successful students the school districts turn out. They did not mention teachers, Lund said
“It’s almost a societal problem, in that some do not consider public education as a profession to which people can aspire,” Lund said. “That needs to change.”
Deep Colorado roots
“My Colorado roots run deep,” Lund said
Lund graduated the Colorado School of Mines and earned a masters degree from Ohio State. His oldest son graduated Paonia High School exactly 100 years after his grandmother graduated in 1907, as the school’s third graduate, ever.
“Those of us born and raised in western Colorado know how to work together,” Lund said. We’ve done it all of our lives. … The challenges our state faces are large and getting worse. Roads, access to health care, creating and recruiting good jobs — these are all things we care about in west-central Colorado, and these are the issues where I’ll bring my record of working together to get good things done.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.