Door-to-door route for Gibbs
October 16, 2006
SILVERTHORNE – The embroidered black cowboy boots Dan Gibbs slips on each day are severely scarred from walking block to block knocking on thousands of doors.It’s an old-school method to run a campaign, and Gibbs’ worn boot soles are suffering.”I am absolutely relentless,” said Gibbs, a Democrat. “When people see me at their doorstep, they’re amazed to see me.”If a resident isn’t home, he’ll leave a handwritten message asking for support.Gibbs, 30, faces seasoned politician Ken Chlouber for Democrat Gary Lindstrom’s House District 56 seat representing Eagle, Lake and Summit counties. The newcomer leads Chlouber in fundraising, campaign expenditures and money on hand with just a little more than $36,000.Gibbs, a Silverthorne resident, was an aide to U.S. Rep. Mark Udall in Washington, D.C., for two years and then returned to Colorado in 2003 to run the representative’s Western Slope office in Minturn. During that time, he’s worked on federal funding for Red Cliff’s water system, Interstate 70 congestion and the pine-beetle epidemic, he said.He said he understands how to draft a bill and bring the necessary parties together to build coalitions. His endorsements from Democrats and Republicans – Vail Mayor Rod Slifer and Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon, among others – prove he’s not a partisan, he said.The Michigan-born candidate helped reinstate recycling at post offices when Udall sponsored a bill to require recycling, and the U.S. Postal Service implemented its new recycling program in Summit County, Gibbs said.Gibbs is a member of several boards, including the Vail Valley Rotary Club and the Vail Valley Home Health Care & Mountain Hospice. He is a mentor for a 13-year-old Minturn Middle School student and coached cross country at Battle Mountain High School.”Community service is really at the root of me,” Gibbs said.Gibbs is against tax loophole 527 which allows groups unaffiliated with candidates to raise and spend money to influence the outcome of elections. There have already been advertisements attacking Chlouber, seemingly on Gibbs’ behalf.”The fact these groups are not a part of my campaign and can say what they want to say is troubling,” Gibbs said.President Jimmy Carter influenced Gibbs at an early age. Gibbs and family met Carter in 1987 at the former president’s Plains, Ga., home. The group ate at a diner not unlike The Turntable in Minturn. Gibbs ordered a burger. Carter asked for Gibbs’ pickle.”Not only can you eat my pickle, you can have my fries,” Gibbs said.
Carter reached over and grabbed the pickle.”The fact he took time for my family made a huge impact,” Gibbs said.Later, Gibbs said, learned about what he calls Carter’s generous international policy.Gibbs’ parents divorced at an early age and he spent time between East Lansing, Mich., and Gunnison. He graduated from Western State College with a degree in sociology and is now pursuing a degree in public administration from the University of Colorado at Denver.Gibbs hobbies include skeet shooting, hunting and skateboarding with the boy he mentors. He enjoys trail running most of all, although for now the campaign holds him back, he said. “I have a challenging job, and this is a great release,” he said.From a Q&A• Tourism is an important part of your district’s economy. How do you plan to bolster that industry?Yes, tourism plays a major role in my district’s economy and the economy statewide. I am encouraged by the economic development package that was signed into law last session that includes $19 million annually to help promote tourism statewide. I will support similar measures that bring money to our region and create a favorable business climate, as well as make sure our natural resources are protected so the tourism industry continues to thrive. I also plan to seek a seat on the State Office of Economic Development’s Tourism Board, giving my district a voice for smart economic growth.• What, if anything, do you plan to do about illegal immigration in the district?I will work with our congressional delegation, encouraging them to pass a meaningful immigration reform bill that provides the tools and resources to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to enforce existing laws that are currently in place. In addition, I support the comprehensive immigration reform laws introduced by the Democrat-controlled Legislature in the special session that:- Make sure public benefits go only to people who are here legally;- Ask voters to approve a plan that will crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers;
– Ask voters to approve a lawsuit demanding that the federal government start enforcing its immigration laws;- Eliminate tax deductions for employers who hire illegal immigrants.• What can be done to improve transportation in the High Country, especially along Interstate 70?As someone who travels the I-70 corridor on a daily basis, I understand directly how important it is to our region, the state as a whole and the nation. In that light, I have participated in several meetings of the I-70 Coalition (composed of county commissioners, mayors, city council members and others along this corridor from Golden to the mouth of the Glenwood Canyon) where we developed the locally preferred alternative outlining needed improvements and fixes to this highway. I have also worked on a number of issues related to I-70 as U.S. Congressman Mark Udall’s west slope director, including seeking annual funding for various projects along the corridor, to helping secure an upgraded radar system for the Eagle County Airport thereby relieving traffic congestion, and assisted on seeking early funding for immediate projects like climbing lanes, safety pullouts, and electronic signs to warn drivers of dangers and roadway conditions. As a state legislator, I will take this knowledge and expertise to see what we can do at the state level to continue to address congestion and other issues along this corridor – including fighting for transit options that will also help alleviate traffic jams.• What is the most pressing environmental problem in the district and what can be done to address the problem?Please see my answer to the following question.• What can state government do to help the pine beetle situation? The bark beetle infestation is the most pressing environmental problem facing my district. First, as a citizen of Summit County who lives four houses away from U.S. Forest Service land I am acutely aware of the fire danger posed to our community, as well as the economic impact. As Udall’s west slope office director, I have been heavily involved in this issue and in helping to craft solutions and strategies to address it.
I helped set-up and facilitate a major regional meeting on this issue for Udall in Winter Park in October of last year. That meeting, where a wide range of interests participated, resulted in the legislation (H.R. 4875) that Udall and John Salazar introduced in February of this year. Prior to and since that bill’s introduction I have participated in the Summit Beetle Task Force discussions and meetings. I also have been very involved with the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments’ efforts to address this issue and joined them on a trip to Washington, D.C. to get the entire Colorado congressional delegation to develop and rally around a single bill – a bill that would help provide additional tools and resources to the Forest Service to treat areas impacted by the beetle, and to provide tax relief and incentives to private property owners to remove beetle-killed trees on federal and private lands. I plan to work with my colleagues in the state Legislature to develop similar incentives and policies at the state level to help address the impacts of this infestation.• What can be done to increase water supplies and protect existing ones?I believe that any effort to divert more water from my district and the Western Slope requires compensation be provided through additional storage or other augmentation. I would look to the water experts and others to help in this regard, including the statewide committees that were created by state law to look at how communities can better cooperate when it comes to using and sharing water. I would not be opposed to looking for new storage facilities as long as they can be done with the support of the region where the facility might be sought, provides mitigation to the region for any exported water, is environmentally sound and does not harm the recreation and wildlife resources of the exporting region. In addition, I will support and propose efforts to increase water conservation throughout Colorado, but especially along the Front Range in order to reduce the demand for water in our area. Conservation is the most efficient and least environmentally disruptive strategy to increasing supplies of water. Also, I will work to improve the safety of existing dams. In doing so, we can allow these existing facilities to fill to their maximum capacity thereby providing additional storage above what they can store now. I would also support incentives to help address water loss of water delivery systems. Finally, I would support using more “conjunctive use” of water – that is pumping excess spring flows into underground aquifers so as to replenish aquifers and use these underground features as storage facilities. • What can be done to boost affordable housing? I support affordable housing and feel that all sectors of our economy – including the private sector and all levels of state and federal government – ought to pitch in and help finance affordable housing for teachers, fire fighters, police officers, nurses, EMS, service workers and others who help our communities thrive and prosper. I feel that is important for local municipalities to determine the best use of these funds for their housing needs. I will look at the recommendations of the Colorado Blue Ribbon panel on housing for possible action items as well.