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Ytterberg brings business savvy to ballot

ASHLEY DICKSON
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY ” For Don Ytterberg, the decision to run for state Senate came after decades of community involvement and small-business leadership, a background he feels makes up for his lack of political experience.

“As a long-time business owner, I bring a perspective other politicians may not have,” said Ytterberg, a Republican who is challenging Democratic incumbent Dan Gibbs for the Senate District 16 seat at the state capitol. “And I believe it’s advantageous for government to have people in business participate in politics.”

One of the larger districts in the state, SD 16 is comprised of 33,242 Republicans, 28,843 Democrats and 37,401 unaffiliated voters ” but voters tend to lean Democratic, meaning Ytterberg faces an uphill battle.

Ytterberg moved from New York to Colorado with his wife Kim in 1987, and after working for IBM for nine years, he became president of the family business, Kalman Floor Co., an international industrial-flooring company.

In addition to working at Kalman, Ytterberg is the past president of the Colorado Association of Metal Finishers and former director of the Northwest Metro Chamber of Commerce, and he owns a metal-finishing company in Arvada, Swiss Lenox.

That industry is one of the most regulated in the state, and when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new set of requirement for business owners, Ytterberg stepped up to communicate the needs and concerns of others in the industry.

“I was able to build a coalition between the regulatory commission and the industries, so both sides could work together,” Ytterberg said. “I’ve been on the receiving end of government activity, and I was able to coordinate so both sides walked away happy.”

Ytterberg believes his background as an intermediary will be an advantage should he be elected to the Senate, and, as an advocate for small business, he wants to focus on boosting the local economy.

“The large ski resorts are resilient to modest fluctuations, but we need to make sure we have the infrastructure to support small business owners, too,” Ytterberg said.

In addition monitoring economic issues, Ytterberg is campaigning against tax increases, and he feels his conservative fiscal views set him apart from Gibbs.

“We need to consider how to manage our money so we can minimize or eliminate tax increases,” Ytterberg said. “I haven’t seen Gibbs weigh in much on fiscal issues, and many times, governing has a lot to do with the control of other people’s money.”

Despite their differences, Gibbs and Ytterberg agree that two of the most important issues in the minds of Summit County voters are finding solutions to both the pine-beetle epidemic and congestion on Interstate 70.

“The pine-beetle issue is now a matter of mitigation…,” Ytterberg said. “And now is the time where we need to be in tune to the needs of firefighters, because they are our first line of defense should something happen to our forests.”

Preparedness and education are two tools Ytterberg feels are paramount when looking at wildfire mitigation, and he strongly believes that organization will be a key factor in helping firefighters protect local communities.

“We need to take inventory of our available equipment within the state, so if a fire does break out, we can mobilize quickly,” Ytterberg said. “Also, homeowners are anxious about this problem, so we need better education. Not everybody knows it’s important to create fire breaks.”

Ytterberg also feels it is time to take action on alternative solutions for I-70 but would prefer that funding come from private sources instead of pooling local tax dollars.

Organizations like the I-70 Coalition have been brainstorming options for solutions since 2004, and Ytterberg thinks it’s time to start putting options before the voters.

“I don’t think there is any more study required. We need to tell the voters what each option would cost and let them decide,” Ytterberg said. “It’s almost like making a business decision based on a budget. We should be saying ‘here is what we have learned, now what would you like us to do?'”

As a new face in the crowd, Ytterberg is exploring ways to get his name out to voters in Summit, Grand, Gilpin and Clear Creek counties. He has been mailing pamphlets, making phone calls, and going door to door to introduce himself as the new contender in the ring.

A father of five and grandfather of four, Ytterberg is a contemplative and unassuming family man. He has been a church elder at Evergreen’s Bergen Park Church since 2002, and has been active in supporting local youth organizations through boosters and the Kiwanis Club.

“It’s exciting to tell people we are in the game,” Ytterberg said. “I have experience as a leader working through problems, and I want to put that experience to good use for District 16.”

Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at adickson@summitdaily.com.


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