Summit County: Gibbs aims to continue forest health & transportation work
September 19, 2010
BRECKENRIDGE – State Sen. Dan Gibbs, 34, was on the ground fighting fires earlier this month; soon he’ll likely be calling shots as a Summit County commissioner. Despite significant accomplishments in Denver, Gibbs said he looks forward to serving on the local level. “I love Summit County, and I want to make a difference in the community that I want to live in,” he said. “I want to make sure future generations have the same opportunities I have of the beauty in Summit County.”The unopposed candidate is expected to take the seat Commissioner Bob French is vacating. Gibbs said he anticipates involvement with transportation and forest-health issues, both of which he’s championed as a state legislator. Gibbs said he’s been taking a close look at the county’s budget, which will be heavily impacted less than halfway through his four-year term. Property values dropped an average of 20 percent since the last valuation and could make for a roughly $4.6 million loss when they take effect in 2012. Career highlights include legislation allowing Colorado Mountain College to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees, more-strict chain-up laws for truckers on highways, and the Colorado Forest Restoration Act, he said. The restoration act brings grants to communities to help finance defensible firebreaks.
The Fourmile Fire burned 6,181 acres and destroyed at least 166 homes earlier this month. “I’ve never seen that much destruction on a wildfire,” said Gibbs, who was on the ground Sept. 7-11, fighting the fire in 12-hour overnight shifts. The work included manning fire hoses and pumps, digging fire line and clearing brush, among other tasks. Gibbs has been a certified wildland firefighter since 2007 and is on a list of volunteers to help with fires anywhere in the United States.”I’d like to think the work that we did helped to save homes,” he said. “Not every house was destroyed back there.”Hazards such as falling trees and other snags added further danger to the wildfire scene. There was a wall at the incident command post where children’s thank-you notes were posted. Gibbs and his fellow firefighters slept on the floor of the Boulder Elks Lodge between shifts. “You do your best to sleep, with folks snoring right next to you,” he said.
The commissioner seat may be a shoo-in, but Gibbs is campaigning with his catchy fly-fisher graphic on T-shirts and stickers. “I never want to take anything for granted,” he said, adding that he wants people to vote for him because he’s making a difference in the community. Once elected, he expects the budget – and “minimizing the negative impact of decreased services” – to be the biggest challenge, Gibbs said. “In the future, we’re just going to have to be really creative at how we look at different revenues,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, you have to balance the budget.”Gibbs said he also anticipates tackling water issues and working to make other changes to benefit the county many years down the road. He said he wants to create more opportunities for the county and town governments to work together. Outside the office, Gibbs enjoys fly fishing, skiing and competing in running races.He said anyone who wants to meet him is welcome to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or a text to (970) 333-4707. SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628.