Colorado Senate District 8 candidates Matt Solomon, Dylan Roberts share different visions in their fifth debate |

Colorado Senate District 8 candidates Matt Solomon, Dylan Roberts share different visions in their fifth debate

John LaConte
Vail Daily
Colorado Senate District 8 candidates Dylan Roberts, left, and Matt Solomon on Wednesday returned to the same chairs they occupied two months earlier at the first debate of the campaign season in August. Wednesday's debate was number five of six scheduled in advance of the Nov. 8 election.
Ali Longwell/Vail Daily

Colorado Senate District 8 candidates Dylan Roberts and Matt Solomon may have felt a bit of deja vu as they returned to the Eagle County building for the Vail Daily candidate forum on Wednesday.

It was the fifth of six scheduled debates for the two locals from Eagle County. The first candidate forum in August, hosted by Moving Mountains, was also in the Eagle County building. On Wednesday, Roberts and Solomon returned to the same chairs they had sat in two months earlier.

Solomon was first to speak, saying he and Roberts have learned a lot about each other throughout the campaign.

“Being that this is our second trip to my hometown, we all know my 21 years of public service and my 21 years of private sector experience,” Solomon said. “And that joined experience offers me a perspective that is necessary in a seat in the state Senate. It should be a prerequisite to have balanced experience.”

Roberts, in his opening remarks, reminded voters that he grew up in Senate District 8 in Routt County before moving to Eagle County, which was not a part of the district. Roberts started serving in the state legislature in 2018 as the representative from House District 26, where he was elected at age 29. He ran unopposed in 2020.

“I’m living here in Eagle County with my wife and young son now, and before serving in the legislature, (I) worked in the deputy district attorney’s office as a deputy DA, where I worked with law enforcement to keep our communities safe and prosecute crimes,” Roberts said.

Roberts touted legislative victories including health care bills aimed at lowering insurance costs and capping the cost of insulin in Colorado, affordable housing investments and water protection measures.

But Roberts said there’s also a lot more work to be done in Colorado.

“We can help revitalize our economy and stimulate rural economies,” he said.

The first question, asking candidates for their take on the biggest economic challenges facing their district, allowed Roberts to expand on the statement, saying he has had “a relentless focus” on saving people money.

“We are taking a wholistic look at the overall cost of living that gets in the way of too many people being able to live here in our mountain communities, that starts with lowering the cost of housing, lowering the cost of health care, lowering the cost of child care,” Roberts said. “I have sponsored many bills with Republican colleagues to reduce taxes on businesses, to increase incentives for our businesses. I will continue to do that so that Colorado is doing its part while nationally and globally we work our way out of this inflation crisis.”

Solomon, in discussing the economy in Colorado, said there are “more restrictions on business than we’ve ever had before, housing is less attainable, and it’s less affordable.”

“We need to take our foot off the throat of business,” he added. “We need to control this rapid growth of our government. Because when the government controls the product, controls the price, and controls the distribution of it, there’s no room for profit, no room for innovation.”

Concern over the economy was expressed in several questions throughout the evening. Both Solomon and Roberts expressed support, in concept, of Proposition 123, which would require the legislature to earmark a portion of the yearly budget for affordable housing.

Solomon said housing is the overwhelming concern on the Western Slope.

“Whether this passes or not, there are three things that really contribute to affordable housing — one, we need the regulation, we need to be consistent, we need to be transparent, and we need to be predictable in our land use codes,” Solomon said. “We need to support development, we need public-private partnerships and we need to support innovation.”

“If that proposition passes as is, it will go through a rulemaking process after passage, and it could become subject to legislation if the rulemaking doesn’t work out because it does need changes to ensure that Eagle County and our higher-cost communities receive their fair share of the funds,” Roberts said.

In a break from the economy, Roberts and Solomon both addressed transparency in government in their closing statements.

“Transparency is very important to being a senator, being an elected official whether you’re a sheriff, a state representative or a town council member,” Solomon said. “Because no person is above reproach and no person is above the law. We all have to be held accountable for our actions no matter how powerful we are. And the failure to hold the most powerful accountable, it weakens our democracy. I will not blink when I face that challenge.”

Dylan Roberts
Dylan Roberts
Matt Solomon
Matt Solomon/Courtesy photo

“This job isn’t about me, it’s about you, and I pledge to always listen to you, listen to your concerns and ensure that you always have a voice down at the Capitol,” Roberts said. “We may not always agree on every issue, but what I promise to you is transparency, and openness to working across the aisle to ensure that if it’s good for Eagle County, it’s something I want to work on.”

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