Opinion | Joe Neguse: When we listen and work together, there is so much we can accomplish | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Joe Neguse: When we listen and work together, there is so much we can accomplish

Joe Neguse
Colorado 2nd Congressional District Democratic incumbent
Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse discusses the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act at the Coon Hill Trailhead on the west side of the Eisenhower Tunnel in Summit County on Sept. 4.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

As your representative in Congress, my duty is to be a voice for Summit, Eagle and Grand counties and communities across the 2nd Congressional District, which I am so honored to represent. That means leading locally, listening to my constituents and fighting for our shared priorities in Washington. It’s why in my first term, I’ve held 40 town halls and met with county commissioners, teachers, small-business owners, firefighters, students, community members and many others. In my view, that’s the Colorado way, and it has helped our office deliver for our community, whether by introducing more legislation than any freshman lawmaker in the country or having more bills signed into law by the president this session than any other Colorado lawmaker. 

One of the most common concerns I hear about, and one I share, is climate change. I listened to our local leaders, who set ambitious climate action and renewable energy goals for their cities and counties, and one of my first priorities was to be appointed to the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, so I could bring the voice of Coloradans to the table as national policy was crafted on climate change. I introduced bipartisan legislation to invest in regenerative agriculture research, safeguard our federal labs, expand clean energy and help build resilient communities. And we worked to secure funding for zero-emission buses and electric vehicle charging stations, to make improvements to Interstate 70 and Grand County’s Lift transportation system.

As I heard from constituents, conservationists, rock climbers and anglers about the experiences they, like myself and my family, have had in our outdoors, I worked to pass major Colorado wilderness legislation, the first to pass out of Congress in over a decade. The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act was crafted by Coloradans across our state and reflects so completely what we as Coloradans can accomplish when we work together. The bill would preserve 400,000 acres of public lands in Colorado and designate the first-ever National Historic Landscape at Camp Hale. In addition to passing the CORE Act through Congress twice, I also introduced legislation to combat the dual crisis of the pandemic and climate change, by investing in our forests through fire science and wildfire mitigation programs, invest in our outdoor recreation industry and mountain economy and put Coloradans and Americans to work restoring our public lands and forests through natural resource management projects.

As Colorado experienced the impacts and challenges of COVID-19, the need to listen became even more profound. We heard from constituents struggling to pay rent, feed their families or keep their business afloat. We heard from health care workers stretched thin without adequate resources and teachers worried about ensuring their students were set up to succeed. Again, we got to work, bringing together local governments, businesses and civic leaders to find solutions and make an impact wherever we could. We led a bipartisan effort with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure firefighters were given priority testing for COVID-19, coordinated with the State Department to bring Coloradans stranded abroad back home and worked with the Department of Interior to ensure our national parks had the guidance they needed to keep our communities safe. I introduced legislation to provide direct stabilization funds to small cities and counties, expand the SNAP food security program, provide hazard pay for our front-line workers and support the U.S. Postal Service. And as a member of House Leadership, I worked to include these proposals in economic relief packages passed by Congress — the CARES Act and the Heroes Act — which also included support for our small businesses, cash assistance for Americans and expanded unemployment insurance.  

The past few months have highlighted the serious challenges we face as a nation, but I continue to believe if we work together — and truly listen to one another — we can tackle them. If given the opportunity again to serve our wonderful communities,  I will work to protect and expand access to health care, protect our environment and ensure our economic recovery includes all Coloradans. 

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But above all else, I promise to continue listening, to remain accountable, and to work with whomever I can to tackle the critical issues facing our state and country.

In Colorado, we know that when folks roll up their sleeves, work together and lead with progress over gridlock, unity over division, and hope over fear, we can accomplish anything. And that’s exactly what we will continue doing to serve the communities we’re so blessed to call home. 

Joe Neguse is the Democratic incumbent for the U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District.

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