At the start of a scenic, half-day tour of Colorado’s 59th House District, La Plata County sheep and cattle rancher J. Paul Brown addressed a crowd of about 40 people at Christina’s Grill & Bar on Saturday morning to announce his plans to retake the House seat he lost by two percentage points in 2012 to Durango attorney Mike McLachlan.
He called the district, which includes La Plata, Archuleta, Hinsdale, Ouray and a portion of Gunnison counties, one of the most beautiful places in the world and one of great importance to the state and nation.
“We are the pull of all of Colorado,” he said. “Tourism, mining, gas and oil, hospitals. It’s a wonderful district.”
While Brown, a Republican, said he is not yet ready to propose specific legislation, he did say he had a long list of issues and possible bills.
Brown, a lifelong resident of La Plata County and a graduate of New Mexico State University, spoke to his early morning supporters about several focal issues, including water, in Colorado and on the Western Slope.
“Water is an issue here, and it always will be,” he said. “The Front Range is thirsty. They want our water, and they’ve taken it.”
Brown mentioned water-storage initiatives to keep water on the Western Slope and in the state.
“Six hundred thousand acre feet of water just went to Kansas and Nebraska,” he said. “That’s our water – we just don’t have any way to keep it.”
A former member of the Transportation Committee, Brown favors redirecting tax dollars from gas and oil revenues to statewide road improvements to encourage tourism.
“Sometimes, we spread ourselves too thin,” he told the crowd. “Too much on bike and walking paths instead of putting it into our roads so we can get around and tourists can come in.”
Another issues he discussed was education for levels K-12 through college, saying he believes in local control and less interference from the federal government.
He also mentioned regulated mining, developing new gold and silver mining near Silverton, supporting the Second Amendment, protecting the environment and creating jobs.
“Its a wonderful country,” he said. “I want to keep it that way.”
La Plata County Planning Commissioner and beef rancher Wayne Buck supports Brown’s ideology. He called Brown a politician of moral fiber and character.
“He’s honest, and Lord knows we need honest politicians in Denver and in Washington, D.C.,” Buck said.