Gibbs Out in 2010, Running For Summit County Commish

State Sen. Dan Gibbs, the popular replacement for former Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald in SD-16, has announced that he will not seek re-election to his state Senate seat, instead opting to run for the Summit County Board of Commissioners. Rep. Christine Scanlan, who was appointed to Gibbs’ House seat, is considering running.

Release follows, says Sen. Gibbs, “I have been blessed to serve my community under the gold dome as a State Representative and State Senator, and as an aide to Congressman Mark Udall for six years. These experiences have given me a rich understanding of complex issues facing our nation, our state and our local communities. I want to put my passion for policy making and adeptness for collaborative problem solving to use to help my local community that I call home, Summit County.”

You can read the full release below, but what is no doubt a consideration–and we don’t want to put words into Gibbs’ mouth here–but it can’t go unmentioned that the low salary for a state legislator continues to drive good public servants out of the legislature and into other realms. A state legislator makes a $30,000 a year salary, with terrible benefits (the state health care plan is brutal); any public servant with a future and/or a family to consider can’t stay in the legislature for long before looking elsewhere (and spare us the “part-time legislator” nonsense–this is basically a full-time job now).

Greetings friends and faithful supporters,

I am grateful for your support and friendship. It is dedicated volunteers and community activists like you that are working to strengthen our communities and preserve and protect our Colorado way of life.

I want you to know that after considerable thought and consultation with my family and closest friends, I have made the decision to not seek re-election to Colorado State Senate District 16 in 2010, and will instead seek election to the Summit Board of County Commissioners, This was not an easy decision for me to make, but I am excited about the possibility of serving the community that I live in and love.

During my time at the Capitol, I have sought bipartisan, common sense solutions to our state’s most complex issues including forest health, transportation, and economic vitality. Likewise, I have worked to promote tourism and protect our small businesses. I believe that my record reflects positive contributions to both the State of Colorado and my own Senate District 16.

I am committed to fulfilling my elected term as your State Senator and am excited about the upcoming legislative session. I will tirelessly pursue collaborative solutions to the issues that are important to my district and the state, including making higher education more accessible, improving the health of our forests, and putting forth a state budget that is fiscally responsible.

I have been blessed to serve my community under the gold dome as a State Representative and State Senator, and as an aide to Congressman Mark Udall for six years. These experiences have given me a rich understanding of complex issues facing our nation, our state and our local communities. I want to put my passion for policy making and adeptness for collaborative problem solving to use to help my local community that I call home, Summit County.

Again, thank you for enriching my life with your support. I look forward to fulfilling my obligations to serve as your State Senator and hope for your continued support as I complete my term and move forward seeking the office of Summit County Commissioner.

Warm regards,

Dan Gibbs


50 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Gray in Mountains says:

    I expect Dan to be elected. He’ll be a good commish. He really works hard on policy issues.

  2. gertie97 says:

    County commissioners make more than state reps and sens. Unfortunately.

  3. RedGreenRedGreen says:

    “As an effective advocate for the Western Slope and one of my strongest partners in the legislature, Sen. Gibbs will be sorely missed at the Capitol. I look forward to working closely with Sen. Gibbs during the 2010 session, but after that the General Assembly’s loss will certainly be Summit County’s gain. As chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Sen. Gibbs has been a key ally in my administration’s efforts to repair and keep Colorado’s roads and bridges safe. Dan has also worked tirelessly with my administration and the federal government to address the bark beetle infestation in Colorado’s forests. He is a talented legislator with a bright future as a county commissioner, and I wish him the best.”

  4. Skyler says:

    Why would there be an opportunity for appointment? He’s going to fulfill the remainder of his term, no?  

    • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

      We’ve corrected our post. That’s an interesting decision, isn’t it? We would have thought he would step down to campaign (and fundraise) full time–and let his replacement get his/her feet under them before the election.

      • Ralphie says:

        Perhaps he thinks that May-November is enough time to campaign for a Commissioner seat.

        I don’t think he has problems raising funds during the session for a Commissioner race like he would for a legislative race.  He certainly won’t need to raise as much money.

        As a legislator, he’ll have plenty of access to the media, too.  It’s not that strange, I think.

        Penry didn’t step down to campaign either.  I think it was more of a problem for him.

        • Skyler says:

          In hindsight, apparently not a problem at all.

          • Ralphie says:

            I think that the decision to not resign his Senate seat contributed to Penry’s departure.  The Session is just six weeks away and Penry would be restricted from raising money from lobbyists; certainly the session would cut into his fund-raising time.  He trailed in fund-raising already, and had already pretty much tapped out Mesa County.

            • redstateblues says:

              Penry has said it’s because he didn’t want to divide the GOP, but everybody knows he was perfectly willing to do that when he announced his candidacy–and Dick Wadhams was perfectly fine with it too. Everyone knows the real reason he dropped out was because Scooter was outraising him.

              The decision to keep his seat could very well have contributed to Penry’s eventual course of action. If he’d resigned, he might have been able to focus solely on fund raising, as McInnis has been able to do.

  5. Littletonian says:

    Can someone explain to me where the “appointment opportunity” referenced in the OP is? Senator Gibbs serves out 2010 and then runs for Commissioner, and Representative Scanlan or another Democrat (and, of course, a Republican) run for the Senate seat. Where’s the appointment?

    I feel I’m missing something big and obvious here.

  6. that we have someone as talented as Sen Gibbs as his replacement.

  7. Dan Gibbs is a MEGA rock star here in Summit – he should win the Commish seat

    I’m shocked, as I’m sure many in Summit are, but I don’t think that would hurt Senator Gibbs’ popularity

    Regarding SD16, I don’t think there are any major Dems in the district other than Christine Scanlan

    FYI – I endorsed Debra Irvine last night for HD56 at her campaign party in Silverthorne – should be an exciting 2010!

  8. heartbreaker says:

    Umm, so how long will it be until he decides to run for something else? I like Dan, but he’s really playing musical chairs, isn’t he? Three different seats in four years.

    How long can an elected official get away with that?

    • RedGreenRedGreen says:

      Just ask Mike Coffman. Apparently for a long time.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        Then you have Romanoff who played by the book and went the term limits limit and got a sharp one in the back when it came around to appointments?  He was also suppose to be a political rock star in waiting and look at his treatment.  After he turned over the gavel in his appointed time the calls stopped coming.  He was squeezed out baby.  They had a deep bench of proven legislators and left them to rot.  Good job Pat Wak.

        • RedGreenRedGreen says:

          Romanoff was offered appointed positions and turned them down. He could have run for higher office any time in the last eight years and chose not to. Former speakers of the Colorado House haven’t ever gone on to bigger and better things — it’s a dead-end position. Don’t blame Pat Waak for that.

          • gertie97 says:

            John Vanderhoof was speaker of the House and went on to be governor. Bob Burford was speaker and went on to be BLM director in Washington under Reagan.

            Even House majority leader leads to other things. It worked for McInnis, who went to Congress and now wants to be governor, and for Tim Foster, who went to the state Commission on Higher Ed and now is president of Mesa State.

            Russ George was speaker, went to DOW, then DNR and now is running CDOT.

            Andrew is doing none of these things.

            • Jambalaya says:

              Is this same guy you’re talking about?  Are you sure he was Speaker before accidentally becoming governor for 1.5 undistinguished years?

              From the state’s website:

              For twenty years Mr. Vanderhoof was present in the House of Representatives and was the chairman for the Game and Fish Committee and the Business Affairs Committee and served as minority House leader.  In 1970 John D. Vanderhoof was elected Lieutenant Governor for the State of Colorado with Governor John Love. He was the first Lt. Governor elected under a new constitutional provision calling for the joint election of Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

              On July 16, 1973 John Vanderhoof took the oath of office to become the 37th Governor of the State of Colorado.  Vanderhoof took over for his predecessor John Love when Love took a position with the Nixon administration. . . .

              Governor Vanderhoof’s 18 month tenure had very few successes with the legislature even though he put forth his best efforts.


              • gertie97 says:

                was in the legislature for many years and did a term as speaker, but I confess I have no idea what years.

                He was governor for a brief time, yes, but had the unfortunate timing to be running for election in 1974. That year, you’ll recall, wasn’t a good one for any Republican. Johnny Van had the additional misfortune to run against Dick Lamm.

              • BICora says:

                What are you thinking?

                Couldn’t you at least dress them up with some nnuendo and hyperbole?

            • One Queer Dude says:

              Not to mention becoming Anne Gorusch’s husband.

            • Gilpin Guy says:

              There is wonk and then really wonk.

              That was one in depth research moment gertie.  Thanks for the details.

              It was clumsy of me to infer that Romanoff was a good guy for serving out his terms.  My apologies regarding the matter.

              Gibbs would be an excellent commissioner but he seems to be bucking the trend of political climbers going the other way.  Usually you start local and move up.  Web Sill was a Gilpin County commissioner who spent a half million dollars trying to get elected to this senate seat.  It was a heated battle in 2002 with FitzGerald winning.

              • RedGreenRedGreen says:

                Gertie’s right, a handful of House speakers have continued in public service over the last four decades. Former Speaker Doug Dean landed a spot on the PUC, too. My point was just that the position isn’t the stepping stone that might be imagined. Romanoff deserves commendation for serving out his terms, but there’s no denying he passed up opportunities, including earlier this year.  

              • County Commissioners make more money so it is often seen as a step up, even though it is a local office. Steve Johnson recently went this route in Larimer County.

                We have the same scenario in Denver where the City Council is paid a lot better than a legislator so most do the legislative thing first and then go to city council. Recent examples are Doug Linkhart, Jeanne Faatz, and Dennis Gallagher.

                Joyce Foster is the odd-ball who went the other direction.

  9. Alison says:

    to Dan. He has done a heck of a job, and I suspect he’ll continue to do so as a commissioner. However, I do not believe Scanlon has any business making a run for that seat. The shoes are too big and she is still too green.  

  10. While this is obviously a loss down at the legislature, I think it’s a pretty great win for Summit County.

    In terms of who would run for the dems, I’ve heard former Gilpin commissioner Ron Slinger’s (and current mayor and former Gilpin Dems chair, etc.) name tossed around a little.

    • Gilpin County Commissioner Jeanne Nicholson is term-limited out in 2010 and has in the past been mentioned for state level offices.

      I haven’t talked to her recently, but she would be a strong candidate – probably stronger than Scanlon.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        has a good reputation in Gilpin County and has a solid understanding of mountain community issues.  She has been involved in the development and implementation of the Gilpin County CWPP wildfire plan and the new Gilpin County Road and Bridge building has a state of the art bio-mass heating system.  I would support her candidacy.

      • ClubTwitty says:

        and Dan will be a great commissioner.  

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        for the Dems. is to have House District 13 Representative Claire Levy run for the Senate which would open up the House seat for Nicholson to challenge.

        Levy would have four years in the state legislature.  She would be candidate for the Dems. and show that they can build a strong bench strength that can move up.  Wak should be acting like the coach and making sure that there are strong candidates up and down the ticket.  Claire Levy would make a great state senator and Jeanne Nicholson would be able to move up from commissioner to house representative.  It would be a strong ticket for the Dems.

  11. BICora says:

    Calculate the hours spent in session and then pay them the same hourly rate as elementary school teachers with the same years of experience.

    You don’t have to pay them for “break” because, as we all know, that’s why teachers can be paid so poorly- they have “so much” free time. Likewise, evenings and weekends are unpaid, even though teachers use that time to lesson plan and grade.

    If you factor in the other employment restrictions on teachers (some) and the employment restrictions on legislators (essentially none) plus add in the outside employability of legislators (law firms, lobbyists, developers and others) I’m not ready to pay them anything more than what teachers make. hourly.

    • Skyler says:

      That there would be probably even more school teachers running for local office if those jobs paid better. This would probably mean more comprehensive proposed legislation concerning education under the Golden Dome.

      I mean, it’s all speculative. I’m the first to advocate for more money for our schools. But that doesn’t mean that we also shouldn’t pay our legislators more.

      Unfortunately, nobody’s going to be paid more for a while. A long while. Welcome to recession-chic budgeting.  

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      when comparisons are made in that fashion. I am in absolute agreement that teachers salaries need a big increase. But, it is not worthwhile to drag down legislators, firefighters, police officers,, nurses or anyone else to that salary level. It is just too easy. Besides, it s pretty obvious that there are also many legislators who do not have outside jobs.

    • Middle of the Road says:

      You really believe that or are you just being snarky?

      State legislators get paid a pathetic salary. It’s embarrassing. We wonder why we get second rate representation. Maybe it’s because we pay second rate wages. They have to maintain two residences (or were you under the impression that the reps that live outside of Denver are commuting every day?) for several months of the year and I don’t know too many people that can afford to pay rent or mortgage on one place, let alone maintain a second residence for half the year.  

      • redstateblues says:

        and have to deal with all the other inconvenient problems associated with being a legislator like you mentioned…

        …and yet people keep lining up, year after year, to run for the office.

        I don’t think they need a pay raise. IMO, the low pay is offset by how much they charge the taxpayers for travel and other expenses. Seriously. Look at the public records sometime, and you’ll see that salary isn’t the only thing they receive as far as taxpayer money goes.

        • Middle of the Road says:

          and what taxpayers pick up and I stand by my original request–pay them more. They deserve it. The salary is pathetic, as you said, and all the deductions and “freebies” in the world do not make up for their lack of income.

          And realistically, we both know in they aren’t going to get a pay raise anytime soon, not in the middle of a major recession.  

      • ardy39 says:

        because I agree that legislator pay is very low.

        However, in addition to the $30,000 per year, an “out-state” legislator can claim $150 per diem for all 120 days of the session. This amount to $18,000 that should be able to cover rent and meals for 5 months. Plus legislators are re-imbursed for their travel expenses for one round trip per week. And then, legislators can use their campaign accounts for meals, car rentals, gas money, clothing, dry cleaning, “educational materials,” cell phones, $90 perfume (well maybe not that one) and additional “non-itemized” expenses.

        Plus, there are some employers who drool at the chance to have ready access to legislators and thus will employ them part-time or via no-bid contracts (just ask the fine folks at Mesa State College).

        So, while our legislators are grossly undercompensated (given that the good ones probably work at it most of the year) they are not doing too badly.

        Indeed, I would accept the bet that if we better compensated teachers (so that we can attract top-notch people into education) one result would be that we would have better legislators than if we increased legislative pay alone.

      • Gray in the mountains says:

        than about what they are able to accomplish. Before raising salaries it would be more beneficial to citizens if we did 2 things: 1) remove term limits, 2) provide more staff to actually do some of the necessary work.

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