Summit County Commissioners, District 3: Horine offers new thoughts on old challenges | SummitDaily.com

Summit County Commissioners, District 3: Horine offers new thoughts on old challenges

Garry "GW" Horine has hiked almost every peak within a 25-mile radius of Summit County, often with dog Belle' accompanying him on these nature walks and wildlife viewings. The independent challenger faces incumbent Democrat Karn Stiegelmeier in the race for the District 3 county commissioner seat.

Editor's note: This is the fourth installment in a five-part series on candidates entered in two Summit County commissioner races. Look for the final installment in next Friday's edition of the Summit Daily.

Garry Horine tells a story about his arrival to Summit County, heading from upstate New York to the Colorado High Country with three friends and enough money to sustain for a single month.

Known to his friends as "GW," Horine found a laborer's job within 24 hours, but he and his companions were forced to get by sleeping on a floor as they searched for a place to live. They'd scour the Summit County Journal's classifieds each morning, but by the time they'd dial the landlord the property would already have been rented.

With money dwindling, Horine contacted the newspaper. Making friends with the typesetter, he found his way into reviewing all the rentals before the Journal hit newsstands the next morning.

"We got our place to rent on the 29th day," Horine said, with a laugh. "I always think outside the box. I believe in creativity and imagination, that's what makes our country great."

He's been in Summit now for four decades, meeting and marrying Irene, his wife of nearly 35 years, and raising two kids in the community. Today Horine, 62, is an independent candidate for the District 3 county commissioner seat held by incumbent Democrat Karn Stiegelmeier. Still he keeps the same mentality he had when working as a $4-an-hour laborer, who used to night ski at Keystone Resort with co-workers and a backpack of cold ones.

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The times may have changed, but not necessarily the barriers to thriving in the mountains. Horine wants to ensure the best chance at success for those who come to the county.

"I want young people to come here and take my place," he said. "It's important for us to keep the door open. It's a vibrant community, and I want it to stay that way. As the population grows, provisions need to be put in place so that we give these people a chance to succeed."

Horine views the price and availability of housing, as well as the cost of health insurance as the largest detractors keeping the next generation from taking up residence in the region. It's increasingly difficult to face these challenges, and others such as childcare costs and insufficient mental-health services. Horine hopes the community's leadership will lead the charge, coming up with fresh solutions.

"We need to show some creativity and imagination of diversification of how to grow our community, and I'm not seeing it," said Horine. "I don't think there are any easy answers anymore. And the challenge of being an elected official now is taking on these hard questions and accepting hard answers, and implementing them for our community and our constituents."

He plans to use the many contacts he's established through the years working as a residential construction material provider to maintain the same hands-on approach he's always relied on.

Horine has curated his contacts as the former general manager of the Breckenridge Building Center and now as a supplier with Specialty Wood Products, as well as a member of the Rocky Mountain Elks Foundation and several HOAs and architectural review boards. He hopes to utilize this vast network to come up with news ideas for locals, by locals.

"From Copper Mountain to Montezuma, from Heeney to Blue River," he said, "I can go into any neighborhood and talk to people about what we're doing good, and what can we do better? I'm not adversarial, but I will challenge you. We need to challenge each other to come up with the best ideas. My take is, I think we could do better."

Horine is an avid outdoorsman — a "self-taught naturalist and wildlife conservation enthusiast." He prioritizes projects that emphasize better environmental stewardship and wildlife habitat preservation practices, and improve trailhead and rest area amenities, while addressing the needs of an increasing senior population. Ultimately, the Silverthorne resident sees long-term planning as the key to preserving what makes Summit so special.

"We need to be thinking 10 years, 15 years, 20 years from now," said Horine. "I want to listen to the people. As an elected official, I don't tell the people what to do; they tell me what to do. I think we could position ourselves to utilize the people in our community and listen to them. We need to have diversity in our government and our representation."

And as an unaffiliated candidate, he aims to bring people together to satisfy the needs of the community. That, Horine says, is what matters most, 40 years ago through the present, and into the distant future.

"You cannot have balance if you don't try to pull ideas from the right and left, he said, "because that's what's going to represent the people best. It's about the people, not the party. I want to represent the people."

To learn more about GW Horine, visit his campaign website at: http://www.gw4commissioner.com.