State senator vows support for Pitkin County | AspenTimes.com

State senator vows support for Pitkin County

Charles Agar

“I’m there when I’m needed,” said state Sen. Lewis Entz, a Republican who represents Pitkin County. Entz is up for re-election in the fall and held an informal citizens meeting Saturday at the Molly Gibson Lodge in Aspen.”I represent everybody,” Entz, 74, replied to the question of whether traditionally liberal Pitkin County is off his radar. “I can’t write anyone off.”Entz represents sprawling District 5, which was redrawn in a 2002 redistricting and consists of 11 counties: Alamosa, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Mineral, Pitkin, Rio Grande and Saguache. Facing a Democratic challenge from Snowmass resident Gale Sheridan Schwartz in the coming election, Entz is confident that his focus on protecting agriculture, managing the district’s scarce water sources and supporting public education will see him through.”I was born with a shovel in my hand,” he said. One of few state representatives with “dirt under his nails,” Entz pointed to his roots in the San Luis Valley and strong work ethic as qualifications for the job: “As a farm kid, you don’t goof off.”Entz has spent nearly four decades in public service, first as an Alamosa County commissioner starting in 1968, then winning a 1982 election to the state House of Representatives. Entz was appointed to his first term as state senator in 2001 when he filled the seat Sen. Gigi Dennis vacated. (Dennis became state director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and now serves as Colorado’s secretary of state.) Entz was later elected to the Senate in 2002 and hopes for reelection this fall.”My whole deal is that I represent the people in my district regardless of personal politics,” he said. “Water issues affect all of us.”Asked what Pitkin County issues are important to him, Entz deferred to the larger district, citing support for agricultural development and management of water for agriculture, issues that might not resonate in Aspen.”People keep wanting to get me involved in county commissions and I don’t want to,” he said of Pitkin County’s restrictive land-use and development codes, which have come under fire from state government. Entz said it’s the state’s job to counterbalance top-heavy local control but added, “As a former county commissioner, I know that it is up to the people in the county to choose county commissioners who make those decisions.”Pitkin County resident Steve Parmelee applauded Entz’s visit: “It’s good that you make yourself available here,” he said. “And the fact that the room isn’t full means you’re doing your job,” he added.The room wasn’t full: Just six attended, but the announcement of the visit arrived only Friday. Entz attributed the short notice to a last-minute schedule change.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.