Colorado Sen. Mark Udall stopped into the Old County Courthouse in Breckenridge on Friday afternoon to give local leaders perspective on the national and global issues that impact their everyday lives.
The senator came to speak with community movers and shakers — professionals involved in education and health care, as well as town and county government officials.
Just a day prior to his appearance in Summit County, Udall was discussing global security issues with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Denver. He shared a few of the takeaway messages he gathered from that meeting.
“The overall philosophy that I bring to the table is that we need to stand boldly. We are a young country, and we are an impatient country, but we also have American persistence and we need to tap into that persistence,” Udall told the crowd, which numbered about 50. “The way we lead the world is not just by having an effective and well-trained military; we also need to have a strong economy and ensure diplomatically that we are engaged, showing the world who Americans really are.”
In addition to sharing his recent experiences both in Denver and in Washington, Udall fielded questions from the audience involving the Affordable Care Act, the deficit and the economy.
Udall said he was ready for a break from government-shutdown-related business during his question-and-answer session on Friday. In spite of his wish to “cleanse” himself from the latest controversy at the Capitol, the senator did discuss the partial government shutdown.
Udall shared an optimistic outlook saying he was confident Democrats and Republicans would be able to come to an agreement when it came to revisiting to the budget in February,
“I think public pressure will build to the point that we won’t see the same thing happening again,” he said.
Audience member Sarah Vaine expressed her disappointment with the apparent lack of willingness politicians displayed to cooperate with one another.
“It’s so disturbing to have people repeatedly stand up and blame the other party. It makes it look like no one can have an adult conversation,” Vaine said. “So to have you say we need to come together is promising because I don’t think there’s any other way.”
Udall said he was proud to represent Colorado because it was a place where people could set aside differences to get things done.
“This state’s style fits my style,” he said.
The state is one-third Republican, one-third Democrat and one-third independent, Udall said. “So I have to work hard to represent all of them, and that means I need work to solve problems.”
Friday’s event was the first time a senator had visited the Old County Courthouse, and it served as a good opportunity for locals to learn a broad perspective about the issues that are important to them, County Commissioner Dan Gibbs said.
“Summit County is made up of about 80 percent U.S. Forest Service lands so there are a lot of ways we can partner with the U.S. government,” he said.
Current national issues that relate directly to Summit County include forest health, water issues, transportation issues involving Interstate 70 and a workforce housing bill currently going through Congress, Gibbs said. “There are a lot of examples where having a close relationship, and having Sen. Udall right here in our backyard for a dialogue, is very useful.”