Under the Dome: I love Colorado | PostIndependent.com

Under the Dome: I love Colorado

Sen. Bob Rankin
Under the Dome
Bob Rankin

Why would anyone serve in an elected office? What motivates us to become public figures, meet hundreds or maybe thousands of new friends and acquaintances, stand up for our principles against criticism, give up time spent on hobbies and favorite recreation, and miss friends who aren’t interested in what we do anymore?

Is it a love of place, the people we meet and sometimes help through their problems, or is it the task itself, understanding complex problems and passing bills, or maybe being thanked and applauded when we succeed or exert a valiant effort trying? I’m incredibly narcissistic even asking the question. However, since I’m on my eighth year in office and about to run again, I’ll take the liberty of burdening you, my loyal readers, with some reflection.

I’m convinced that I represent the most naturally beautiful state senate district in the nation. From the ski slopes of Breckenridge to the dinosaur bones in the national monument named for them, there’s an abundance of visual delights and adventures just waiting. Wildlife roams the mountains and the occasional flat spot to equal the plains of Africa.

And then there are the people who live there, work there, and love western Colorado. Ski bums, hoteliers, coal miners, gas well drillers, and a few fourth- and fifth-generation ranchers. And the law enforcement, firefighters, school teachers and municipal employees that keep it glued together.

I love working for this place and these people. Politics matter and principles matter, but there’s common ground around the problems of rural and western Colorado. We may have different solutions and different hopes and expectations about the future. Still, we have work to do together that translates into bills and spending priorities at the State House.

I’ve focused on fair treatment for our rural schools, the cost and accessibility of health care, maintenance of rural roads, care for disabled citizens and public lands issues, with diversions, of course, to support other legislators and their issues. I’ll continue to work for economic development to keep our communities prosperous and defend our jobs and infrastructure from damage resulting from a focus on front range growth.

We aren’t unique. Challenges for rural communities exist all across the United States but are exacerbated in Colorado by geography and the successes of our front range. Our Western Slope and eastern plains legislators go to Denver outnumbered but with a sense of purpose that transcends party politics and personal bias. We examine every bill and create a few of our own to bring attention to our unique issues to support our citizens.

But I’m convinced that local solutions are often more effective than new state laws or “one size fits all” statewide programs. Whether it’s local control of school boards, housing solutions, local health care cooperatives, economic development, or county government, our western tradition shines through. I’ll continue to support the right blend of state support to local solutions and consider every state bill from that perspective.

So thank you for your support and please, I invite you to find that love of place and get involved locally.

“Under the Dome” appears on the third Tuesday of the month. State Sen. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his first term representing Senate District 8, which includes Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties.


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