Steamboat native Dylan Roberts runs for Senate District 8
Editor’s note: Over the past several months, we have been running profiles of candidates running for election in Grand County. Roberts is the last of those profiles. To read them all, go to SkyHiNews.com/election-2022.
Once a ski racer at Winter Park Resort, Democratic Rep. Dylan Roberts of the 26th District of the Colorado House of Representatives has returned to Grand County for a different reason. Roberts has hit the campaign trail as he runs for Senate District 8. He has represented Eagle and Routt counties since 2017. If elected, he’ll represent 10 additional counties, including Grand.
Roberts’ campaign priorities include: small business growth, affordability, preserving water and agriculture, and mitigating wildfire. He says these priorities not only ensure people’s basic rights to shelter, water and food, but also to a thriving quality of life.
“People deserve to be able to live in our communities where they work (and) where they want to raise their family,” Roberts said. “We need to do more to make sure our communities remain a viable place for those types of things.”
To ensure affordability in mountain communities, Roberts is chair of the Affordable Housing Task Force. He recently spearheaded HB22-1304 to direct $178 million for affordable housing.
“This is going to mean millions of dollars going to places like Grand County … to help build more affordable housing for our teachers, nurses, police officers and tourism workforce,” he said.
He added the bill marked Colorado’s largest investment in affordable housing funding in a single year.
“I fought for an amendment in that bill that at least 50% of funding has to go to rural and rural resort counties,” he said, explaining funding normally goes to metro areas. “Our areas were facing an affordable housing crisis most acutely. We deserved our fair share.”
He plans to motivate communities to address what’s preventing affordable housing and create incentives for local developments.
In 2019, Roberts cosponsored the reinsurance program to help insurance companies pay high-cost claims. He said the program lowered insurance costs on the Western Slope by 35%.
He also recently sponsored the Standardized Health Benefit Plan, requiring insurance companies to offer standardized health benefits plans at reduced rates, beginning in 2023.
“I also wrote and passed the bill that made Colorado the first state to cap the cost of insulin,” Roberts said. “We stood up to big pharma, we stood up to the big insurance industry.”
Since the insulin bill passed in 2019, 12 other states have followed Roberts’ lead to cap insulin costs.
“I reached across the aisle and got Republican and Democratic cosponsors,” he said. “We did it in a bipartisan way because that bill is about saving people’s lives.”
Roberts added he’ll continue to advocate for rural areas, since they experience the state’s highest premiums.
As chair of the House Business and Labor Committee, Roberts stated he provided small businesses the resources they needed during COVID-19 shutdowns.
“I fought against intrusive regulations that were keeping businesses closed, so we were able to recover faster than most other states,” he said.
He also expanded and extended the Rural Jump-Start program, which provides incentives for new businesses to start in or move into rural, economically distressed areas, to more counties.
“It’s resulted in dozens of businesses opening their doors in rural Colorado, because of the tax incentive bringing new jobs into our communities,” he said.
Although Grand has not yet joined Rural Jump-Start, Roberts said it’s available for the community to apply to.
Roberts, who has served on the Water Committee since he became a legislator, stated one of his main priorities is “protecting natural beauty and the reason why we all live in the mountains; that’s our environment and water.”
Grand County is home to the Colorado River headwaters, but the river is shrinking as water is diverted to other populations.
“Our water is under threat from Front Range interests as well as out-of-state interests. I want to bring a nonpartisan collaborative voice … on Western Slope water,” he said. “We need serious legislators who know and understand Colorado water law who can work with Republicans and Democrats.”
Roberts has served as Chair for Rural Affairs and Agriculture and is a member of the Agriculture and Water Committee.
“I work across the aisle on agriculture issues because it shouldn’t be a partisan issue, it should be a Colorado issue,” he said.
Since joining office, Roberts has set up agricultural grant programs. He stated he cut red tape so ranchers can sell their meat locally, as well as passed bills to support agricultural water use.
“We need to do everything we can to protect water resources. Farmers and ranchers can’t run their businesses without water,” Roberts said. “If the federal government tells us … to cut water use because California and Arizona need water, that could be really painful.”
Roberts said he will legislate for “protecting our communities from the very real threat of wildfire, which Grand County knows all too well.”
He plans to concentrate on wildfire response, wildlife mitigation and drought mitigation.
“We need to ensure that snow keeps falling and the rivers keep running because our tourism economy, outdoor recreation economy and our agricultural economy depend on those things,” he said. “The state legislature needs to do more to prepare the Western Slope for the future.”
To speak directly to voters on his priorities and learn theirs, Roberts has gone door-to-door in Grand County.
“I’ve been hearing from everyday voters at their doorstep about what’s important to them,” he said. “I was at the senior center in Granby … and had a great conversation about expanding more senior affordable housing.”
Roberts said he’s enjoyed talking to voters about the importance of working across the aisle. He stated every bill he’s sponsored at the state legislature, except for one, has been bipartisan.
“I’m much more interested in solving problems,” said Roberts. “I think (communities) deserve a problem-solver, not a partisan politician.”
He added he has a special connection to Grand — growing up in Steamboat, Roberts enjoyed ski racing at Winter Park Resort and hunting outside Kremmling.
“I love our mountain communities,” he said. “My first ski race ever was at Winter Park.”
If he is elected, Roberts plans to hold town hall meetings frequently in Grand County, just as he has for Eagle and Routt.
“Being a legislator is about representing your district, not your personal ideology. … I’ll show up, I’ll listen to you,” he said. “I’ll take your criticisms, take your questions. Most importantly, I’ll take your ideas to the capitol and get results for you.”
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