Candidate commentary: Ryan Gordon, Democrat for Garfield County Commissioner District 1

Ryan Gordon

I was born and raised in Garfield County and I’m proud to be raising my family here too. I’m inspired to be your county commissioner because I want to ensure that they, you and all of us have a bright future here. I will be a commissioner that looks to the future just as much as honoring the past. You deserve nothing less. 

So, how does my background prepare me for this role?

After graduating high school in Glenwood Springs, I obtained my civil engineering degree from Colorado State University and subsequently became a registered Professional Engineer. Years later I started dating a good friend from high school; we married and started our family a few years after that. My wife teaches science at Colorado Mountain College, and we’re proud to send our daughters to public school in Roaring Fork School District RE-1. Our 8-year-old is a devoted swimmer for the Sopris Barracudas, and our youngest is excited to start her first hockey season as a Grizzly Cub.

I’m a political outsider. I’ve spent the last two decades as a water engineer where my work has primarily been keeping our nation’s water safe and clean. My profession is not flashy or glamorous — in fact, it’s often misunderstood. A college professor once told me that as a water engineer, I would have the potential to save more lives than a doctor because clean water is imperative to life. Although I’ve worked for private companies my whole career, the very nature of my profession means I also work in public service to people and the environment. As a municipal engineer, I’m essentially an extension of the towns I serve (I’m currently the town engineer for several in our region). The projects I work on are funded by and in benefit of the public, and I play a key role in determining which projects are done and when. 

I’ve also spent my career working in collaboration with diverse stakeholders in the private and industrial sectors; nonprofits; municipalities and towns; counties like Mesa, Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Summit, Grand, Montezuma, San Miguel, La Plata, and Saguache; and Federal Government entities like the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Navy. I work with these stakeholders to find ways to collaborate on realistic solutions to complicated problems, and know from experience that I can be heard by stakeholders by “playing nice.” I will bring this same approach to the complex issues that we face in Garfield County, but am also adept at establishing boundaries and holding my ground when needed. 

In addition to designing water infrastructure (like wastewater treatment plants) and collaborating with diverse stakeholders, I’ve managed hundreds of projects from design through construction. I manage people and provide oversight and review on work; produce, develop, implement, and execute contracts; and manage the financial and scheduling aspects of projects (the largest budget I’ve managed was $80 million). Water infrastructure engineering requires more executive and administrative skills than most people realize, and I’m proud of the complexity of my profession. 

So why run for this office? I’m tired of partisan politics; tired of career politicians who blame others instead of working to address current issues and fail to plan for the future; and tired of leaders who won’t sit down and work together to create the best possible outcomes. This isn’t sustainable and it’s not reflective of good leadership. Our future is not guaranteed, so we need to stop arguing and start working smarter in a truly collaborative way. This is the kind of leadership I will bring to this role. 

The most serious threats to our future in Garfield County include the rising cost of living and housing, declining revenues from oil and gas, less water available in our mountains and rivers, and the danger to life, property, and the environment from the megafires of our changing climate.

To solve these issues, a proactive, forward-thinking approach and collaborative leadership are required. I know from the countless people I’ve talked to across our great county that for them, the current commissioner is “out of touch,” both literally and figuratively. As county commissioner, I will be an energetic champion for everyone in Garfield County, and will bring people together to strengthen our economy, work to expand affordable high-quality housing, and put our environment first over special interests.

You can read more about my campaign at and learn why I am the right vote for your future. 

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