Converstion with … Todd Hagenbuch, candidate for Colorado House of Representatives
September 16, 2008
Todd Hagenbuch, D-Phippsburg, is running for Colorado House District 57.
Hagenbuch graduated from Northeastern Junior College and immediately enrolled at Colorado State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in farm and ranch management. Soon after graduating, he returned to Northeastern were he was the director of residence life and student activities, a residence hall director, and an admissions coordinator.
At Northeastern, Hagenbuch’s responsibilities have included managing a $1 million budget, securing new housing facilities on campus and supervising student facilitators.
Hagenbuch is also earning his master’s degree in organization leadership from Regis University.
In the community, he has served as board member and vice-president in the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union since 2005. On the board of directors for the Yampa Valley Land Trust, Hagenbuch provides guidance for the Northwest Colorado land conservation organization. He also serves as the executive director of Historic Routt County.
An educator, volunteer, rancher, and community leader, Hagenbuch and wife Sarah live in Phippsburg, near his family’s Green Creek Ranch in Steamboat Springs. As their ranch family continues to grow with new calves and horses, this year they also welcome their first baby to the ranch.
Q. What has been your campaign strategy this election?
A. We are visiting with people one on one, in small groups, and at various events throughout the region about the issues, solutions, and how I can best represent the voters of Northwest Colorado at the Statehouse. Additionally, we are asking people to visit our Web site, http://www.toddforcolorado.com, and asking them to share with their friends, family, and neighbors their views and their support of me and my campaign. We are truly focusing on a “grassroots” effort.
Q. What do you see as top challenges facing Grand County in the next decade?
A. Forest management, continued and increasing pressures placed on Colorado and Fraser River water and increased development pressure will all continue to impact Grand County in the foreseeable future. Rising housing costs, affordable and available health and child care, and transportation issues will be issues we will have to address in Grand County sooner rather than later.
Q. What solutions do you propose for dealing with the tremendous amount of beetle-kill wood in Grand County, specifically by way of funding for taking out trees for wildfire defense and by way of encouraging wood use?
A. The role of the state government should be to facilitate removal of dead trees in areas around communities, homes, and transportation corridors, including roadways and electric transmission lines, creating defensible space around these areas in anticipation of forest fires. Increases in funding for grant programs available to local communities dealing with these issues would be a priority of mine.
State government should also work with local governments to encourage investment in local businesses and private industry that use beetle-killed trees and related byproducts.
I had the opportunity to meet recently with a private investment group from South Dakota that is looking to build a cellulosic ethanol plant in Northwest Colorado that would use the “slash,” or tree residual, to create fuels that we can use in our vehicles locally. New enterprises such as this, along with custom furniture makers, small sawmills, and the new pellet mills opened in Kremmling and Walden will help us use this resource while providing jobs to the local economy.
Q. What past experience do you have on Colorado water issues?
A. I have practical experience and formal education in and with Colorado’s water laws. I received my bachelor of science from the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at Colorado State University and had coursework that included agricultural law and water law. I have studied Colorado statute and case law as it relates to water, and have recently helped represent my family pro se in a water court case that defended our senior water rights against a new junior right. I am proud to say that I have worked on water issues for many years, studying the law in the back of the library at CSU, and moving it on our ranch from the back of a shovel.
Q, What do you plan to do to help defend West Slope water interests?
A. I will work diligently to be a voice of reason at the Statehouse on West Slope water issues. We must develop ways to encourage wise water use on the Front Range so that West Slope water is not looked to as the answer for the East Slope’s growing appetite for water. This includes encouraging new water storage facilities on the East Slope and creating ways to lease water to interested parties instead of selling this valuable private property right and forever removing it from our productive agriculture lands.
We also need to defend our water rights from those who want them downstream. Reopening the 1922 Colorado River Compact, as suggested recently by Sen. John McCain, would be detrimental to Colorado’s West Slope, and I will defend our water as a state legislator.
Q. Affordable and available health care is a great concern in Grand County. How do we make quality health care available in rural areas like Grand County and what can you do on the state level to help make health care services and coverage more affordable?
A. Not every community can support a doctor, but nurse practioners can provide a route to affordable health care in rural areas. Able to prescribe medication and meet most health care needs, NPs are a cost-effective way to get health care to our rural areas. I will work on legislation to help make this type of health care work for Northwest Colorado.
I would also like to pass legislation facilitating cooperative agreements between small-business owners and self-employed people, including those involved in agriculture, allowing them to pool their resources in order to purchase group health insurance, assuring employees a choice of health care providers while bring costs down.
Q. The Sky-Hi Daily News recently did a series on conservation in Grand County. As more growth takes place in the high country, what are your views on protecting agriculture and preserving open space?
A. I have been a life-long advocate for open space and preservation of ag lands. As a board member of the Yampa Valley Land Trust, I have had the opportunity to work with land owners across Northwest Colorado to protect working ag lands. My family has placed a portion of our ranch under a conservation easement, and we have worked with adjoining land owners to assure that Pleasant Valley can remain a productive agricultural area.
We must remember the reasons we all live in Northwest Colorado, and remember not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Our scenic vistas, open ag lands, and wild and open areas are invaluable to us as a people, as a community and as a tourist-based economy. We have proven time and time again that such goals can be accomplished while preserving private property rights and community values.