A full house of candidates for District 61 state representative | PostIndependent.com

A full house of candidates for District 61 state representative

Carrie Click

Colorado State District 61 Representative Gregg Rippy may be a Republican, but he credits his sense of bipartisanship for the ability to look at issues with clarity.

“Honesty and integrity really play into this job,” he said. “That can also mean we can have a difference of opinion, but if we’ve got our eyes on the same target, it just becomes a matter of how we’re going to get there.”

Rippy said besides attending house sessions, he serves on a number of committees, including water resources and information management.

“The water issue relates to so many others, like growth and sustainability,” he said. “It’s so critical. You know, we have yet to figure out how to make water.”

When former District 57 Rep. Russell George resigned his post in order to become the Colorado Division of Wildlife director in 2000, Rippy was appointed to the post. He was elected later that year.

Following reapportionment this year, Rippy’s West Glenwood residence was drawn out of the 57th District and into the reconfigured 61st District. Portions of Garfield, Eagle and Gunnison counties and Pitkin and Hinsdale counties now comprise District 61.

Rippy said regardless of the new district boundaries, representing its people requires strong listening skills, a solid background on the issues, and a knowledge of the area that goes beyond a laundry list of concerns.

“Of course, all of us want adequate, clean water, a strong public education system, equitable tax revenue sharing within the state, and manageable growth,” he said. “I think what’s in question is what candidates can bring to the table. What’s in my tool kit that makes me able to work for the people of the district?”

Rippy, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colorado State University, said his service on the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission from 1985-1990, and his chairmanship of the Colorado Contractors’ Association Legislative Committee from 1994-2000, smoothed the way for his transition to the statehouse.

“I was the Garfield County Republican’s legislative committee secretary and treasurer, so I’d had a lot of interaction with the statehouse,” he explained. “Russ knew he would be resigning a year before he did, so I spent time there finding out what the job was.”

Rippy’s ties to District 61 run deep. Rippy, 47, his wife, Marilee, and their three children were born in Glenwood Springs. Rippy’s great-grandparents homesteaded in New Castle in 1913, and his grandparents and parents raised their families in New Castle and Glenwood Springs.

Rippy has no illusions about the time involved being a state representative.

“It’s far beyond a 40-hour-a-week job,” he said, “at least if you’re going to give the position the attention and respect it deserves.”

He and his brother, John, own Grand River Construction, an asphalt paving company. When Rippy began serving as District 61’s representative, he handed the reins of the business over to John.

“My brother is wonderful to me,” said Rippy. “Because of him, I’m able to give this position my full commitment. I don’t have another job.”

He summarized his philosophy simply.

“Show up,” he said. “And be honest.”

Glenwood Springs building contractor Rick Davis describes himself as a public steward. Now the Glenwood city council member is taking his sense of stewardship to a state level in his bid for the Colorado State House District 61 seat.

“I’m rolling up my sleeves because the vision I have needs to be implemented on the state and federal level,” said the 52-year old Democrat. “The decisions made on the state level today are going to have a profound effect on our lives and the lives of our children 10, 15 and 20 years from now.”

The 18-year Glenwood Springs resident is taking the leap from local to state government a little sooner than he originally planned. But he feels the time is right.

“Originally, my timetable was to spend eight years on city council, then run for mayor and after that, run for county commissioner,” he said.

But Davis pushed up his run for a statehouse seat when District 61 was reapportioned in February 2002 as a result of population changes recorded in the 2000 census.

The district used to include the largely rural counties of Rio Blanco and Moffatt, which are now part of District 57. Now, it encompasses portions of Garfield, Eagle and Gunnison counties, and Pitkin and Hinsdale counties.

“The new district represents a new direction,” Davis said. “Where the old district was 80/20 Republican/Democrat, the new district needs a representative who reflects the views of the people who live here.”

Davis’ goals for District 61 center around growth management, water, health care reform, improving public education and addressing transportation concerns. He says there are others – like open space, affordable housing, and creating links to the land and nature – that are unique to the Western Slope, and to District 61.

“We need someone in the state legislature who is able to address the concerns of the Western Slope,” he said.

Davis and his wife, Cindy, have four children and three grandchildren.

He came to politics from the grassroots level, which he feels helps him be a voice of the people. For the past five years, he’s served on the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission. He was a founding board member of the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and served on Glenwood’s Parks and Recreation Committee, the Rural Transportation Authority’s board of directors, and the Glenwood Springs Transportation Commission.

In 1999, Davis was elected to the Glenwood Springs City Council. His term ends November 2003, but he said he would step down in December if elected to the statehouse.

He graduated from high school in South Dakota and attended college in South Dakota and Colorado.

For the past year, Davis has been a participant in CMC’s American Leadership Forum and will soon complete a six-month political leadership program geared towards elected officials.

“I believe that above all, we need to protect the natural beauty that brings so many to the Western Slope,” he said.

Carbondale chiropractor Abba Krieger was a registered Democrat for most of his life. But six years ago, he was introduced to the principles of the Natural Law Party, and joined what he said is “the fastest growing political party in the country.”

He is running for the District 61 seat in the Colorado House of Representatives as the Natural Law Party’s candidate.

Although the 53-year-old Krieger has never run for political office, his background in health care and children’s nutrition compelled him to join the statehouse race. Krieger received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Providence College in Rhode Island, a masters in public health from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and a doctor of chiropractic from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.

He believes serving in the statehouse is the best way to effect change on a state and nationwide scale. But running on the Natural Party Law ticket hasn’t been easy because he says he’s not part of the mainstream.

“There’s not much difference between the Republican and Democratic parties,” said Krieger. “These two main parties aren’t listening. It seems that a large number of U.S. citizens are asking for reform to take place. The Natural Law Party lives and breathes reform.”

Krieger explained the Natural Law Party is based on the inherent laws of nature. For Krieger, that means changing the way society governs crime, food safety, and the health and welfare of children.

“My No. 1 concern is increasing legislative directives regarding children,” he said. “And I believe in creating a preventative health care system instead of the disease crisis system we currently have. Our party believes in alternative, renewable energy sources, and in mandatory labeling and safety testing of genetically engineered foods.”

Two other areas Krieger feels especially strongly about are capital punishment, which he feels should be abolished, and immigration reform.

“It was Gandhi who said, `An eye for an eye leaves two people blind,'” he said.

“And we must place stricter controls on immigration. We’re allowing Third World countries not to take responsibility for their citizens, who are taking jobs away from Americans,” he said.

Krieger has lived in Carbondale since 1977, is divorced, and has a 21-year-old daughter, a senior at St. Lawrence College in upstate New York. He said if he’s elected, moving to Denver – at least part-time – will be tough, but he’s willing to do it.

“I don’t crave living in Denver,” he said. “I do crave creating progressive reform.” He said even though he’ll spend a lot of time in Denver if he’s elected, he’ll keep his residence and business in Carbondale, and will continue his yoga classes at the Carbondale Yoga Co-op, and playing saxophone with the Glenwood Hot Strings Band.

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