McInnis saluted for years of service |

McInnis saluted for years of service

Ryan Graff
Special to the Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Garfield County Republicans had the chance to meet with their county, state, and federal representatives Saturday night, and give a send-off to a congressman who’s a native son.

Everyone from county Sheriff Lou Vallario to 3rd Congressional District Rep. Scott McInnis attended the Republican’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the Buffalo Valley Inn.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the night was a speech by McInnis, for which he received a standing ovation.

McInnis, a Glenwood native, is stepping down from Congress at the end of this year, having served there since 1992. He was introduced Saturday by Russell George, director of the state Department of Natural Resources.

George began his introduction by describing a day many years ago when a young man, about 28, who wore a leather necktie and his hair a bit too long, walked into George’s insurance agent’s office in Rifle. The man, from Glenwood Springs, said he was running for the state House of Representatives.

“No one gave him much of a chance,” said George. “But by the time the smoke had cleared, this kid had won.”

Since winning the 57th District in the state House by 13 votes, said George, McInnis has walked with presidents, princes and kings, but never forgot the people he represented.

McInnis dedicated his standing ovation to men and women who are serving in Iraq.

McInnis kept his speech short, but took the opportunity to tell fellow Republicans why he wasn’t seeking re-election.

“The good Lord just doesn’t tell you how much more time you have with your family,” he said. “We wanted to be back together and we wanted to be home.”

Though he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, McInnis enjoyed his years of public service.

“Let me just say it this way, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.”

McInnis didn’t say what his plans are after he leaves office.

Four candidates running for McInnis’ seat were introduced and each gave brief speeches.

Greg Walcher of Grand Junction, a former director of the Department of Natural Resources, said government has grown too big and taxes too high. He also said the government has failed to manage the natural resources of the district.

Delina DiSanto, a former financial officer in the health care industry as well as oil and gas industries, said, “we need to develop our natural resources,” but added, “we need to be very careful with our environment.”

Matt Smith, McInnis’ brother-in-law, of Grand Junction, said his top priority is to protect the district’s water. He is a former water and natural resources attorney and believes that will help him manage resources.

Gregg Rippy, the current state District 61 representative and a Glenwood resident, was greeted with the biggest applause of the four candidates Saturday.

“Man, I like being home,” he said after the crowd’s uproar subsided.

He said between representing the Colorado’s District 57 earlier in his career and District 61 now, after redistricting, he has already worked with many of the people in the 3rd Congressional District. Partnerships he has built with people in both districts would help him serve the people of the 3rd Congressional District, he said.

The keynote address of the evening was given by Hank Brown, a former U.S. representative and senator, and current president and CEO of the Daniels Fund, a philanthropic organization.

Brown spoke about what America is, what it has become, and what it has done for the world.

“What’s special about America is that we have discovered the greatest resource on the face of the earth,” said Brown, “and that’s individual freedom.”

Recently though, America has lost some of its individual freedoms to the government, said Brown.

For most of the United States’ history, the government collected 10 percent or less of what people earned. Now, the government takes 40 percent of all money produced in America, he said.

“It is ironic that Americans who have discovered the greatest power of all time find their liberties slip away.”

Brown said Democrats want more control over people’s lives, and Republicans want less.

“If Republicans aren’t the champions of letting people live their own lives, who will speak out for us?” Brown asked.

U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell had been scheduled to speak at the dinner, but couldn’t attend following recent illness.

Amanda Crysler, Campbell’s aide, said the senator was resting comfortably in his home and is very excited about his upcoming campaign.

Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 534

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