Republican confirms Senate run
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
An Eagle County commissioner has confirmed reports that he’s mulling a run for the state Senate district that includes Garfield County, while a Republican lawmaker has formally declared his candidacy.
Democrat Arn Menconi says he plans to decide by January whether to run for the seat now occupied by Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs. Taylor will be forced out at the end of next year by term limits.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Al White, R- Hayden, who has long expressed interest in running for the Senate, announced this week that he is definitely running.
“There is much work to be done, and I feel that my service is not an option, but an obligation to the citizens of the district,” he said in a news release.
Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt, a Democrat, had considered entering the race but ruled it out, saying the timing isn’t right because of her current work as commissioner and as a newly appointed member of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Democrat Ken Brenner, a Steamboat Springs City Council member, has said he is seriously considering running for the Senate seat.
Menconi is currently the target of a recall campaign in Eagle County but said that wouldn’t be a factor in whether he runs for the Senate.
“I consider that a badge of honor,” he said of the recall effort.
Rather, Menconi said, a top consideration is whether he can balance being in the state Legislature with being a father to two children.
“I’ve been talking to senators who have had young kids and been there and had young kids and left. I just haven’t decided how making my family a priority will play into whether or not I run for state Senate,” he said.
White has served seven years in the House, and also faces term limits at the end of next year. His district includes western Garfield County.
White’s news release reports that Taylor is giving White his “full and complete support because of his experience and history representing the people of northwest Colorado.”
Menconi said he finds it interesting that White, who also has a Winter Park home, has established residency in Hayden so hecan be eligible to run for Taylor’s Senate seat.
District 8 covers much of northwestColorado, including Garfield, Eagle, RioBlanco, Moffat, Routt and Jackson coun-ties. White points out that Winter Park wasin District 8 until the last round of redistricting. He said his House 57th Districtseat has overlapped much of the District 8territory over the years, and many of theissues the two districts face are the same.
Menconi was first elected as county commissioner in 2000 and faces term limits himself at the end of next year.
He said the same core group of peoplebehind the recall has been “badgering” him since he was first elected to office, when they tried to get the election results overturned. “It’s just a mudslinging festival, andI’m trying to stay above it all,” he said.
The recall effort is focusing on Menconi’s votes in favor of spending money to support a childhood development program, conservation of Bair Ranch in Glenwood Canyon and a second ranch property, and purchase of Prius hybrid vehicles by the county, among other expenditures.
Menconi said he previously ran a nonprofit organization for at-risk kids, and remains heavily involved in health andhuman service issues.
He said he hasn’t met Brenner, but has known White for all seven years both have been in their respective offices. “He has seemed to position himself most recently as a centric. He started out as much more of a conservative,” Menconi said.
He said he thought White “seemed tovacillate” on Referendum A, a 2003 state water projects measure that went down todefeat and Menconi is proud to haveopposed.
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It might be public service serving on Aspen City Council but it doesn’t pay enough, the majority of electeds say. That’s why they are proposing to give their successors a $12,000 raise.