From rural Iowa to the run for governor |

From rural Iowa to the run for governor

summit daily news

Summit Daily file photo

In Summit County, Gary Lindstrom is widely known as a “Nice Guy.”

Even his campaign last November against Eagle County Republican Heather Lemon for the District 56 House seat was run with more complimentary comments than peppered debate.

He’s quiet, but that’s because he is an acute listener.

He teaches sociology and political science at Colorado Mountain College but continues to be a student himself. He spent four weeks in Mexico this summer learning Spanish in a language immersion program.

He writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News that in the past included poetry. He spent several years writing a poem a day, and even built up a fan club across the country. He frequently rides his Harley-Davidson to meetings, a red, white and blue bandana tied around his head.

With a master’s degree in human communication from the University of Northern Colorado, he is a professional facilitator and a former school administrator.

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He has been married for 30 years to Lynne, 56, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1982. She lives at the Mesa Vista Care Facility in Boulder, and Lindstrom visits her every Sunday. They have two children, and Lindstrom has three children and six grandchildren from his first marriage.

He was appointed county commissioner in 1995 and chaired the board for five of the 10 years he served there. He was appointed by state Democrats to fill Carl Miller’s position in the state House of Representatives in July, 2004, then won the seat against Lemon four months later.

Over the years as he gained more confidence and made countless decisions as a politician, Lindstrom became more vocal and outwardly liberal. He now dubs himself a “liberal” Democrat, at the same time saying he hates the term.

As a Republican commissioner in the 1990s, Lindstrom wore long hair. His colleagues frequently joked that as his politics grew more liberal, his hair got shorter. He now wears a brush cut.

He grew up in rural Iowa, served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War era and worked as a cop for more than 20 years. As a young police officer, he worked the streets of New York City, then moved to Colorado in 1970, where he was instrumental in building Lakewood’s first police department.

In Summit County during the 1980s and early ’90s, he served as undersheriff for 10 years and coroner for eight. And now, he’s got his eyes on the governor’s office.