As fall creeps toward Northwest Colorado, some new faces have jumped into the political arena.
Paul Ohri has declared himself a Democratic candidate running for the State Senate District 8 seat.
Ohri has experience in the political arena. He was a Grand County Commissioner from 1987-1999. He currently serves as president of the Board of Directors of the Colorado River Water Conservation District.
In his personal life, he has owned Mountain West Surveys Inc. and Ohri Realty in Kremmling.
Raised on a Nebraska farm, he moved to Grand County early in his life, married his wife, Janet, and raised two children, Brian and Paula. He sees his political service as part of an obligation to give something back to the community.
"I just believe in our system so much," said Ohri. "If you have the time and believe in the system, you need to give back to it."
Ohri believes that North-west Colorado will face some complicated issues in the next few years.
Growth will have a huge effect on the area down the road, according to Ohri.
"I don't see it as a negative, but I do see it as a challenge to this area," said Ohri. "You can't stop growth, so it becomes important to manage it."
Housing is an issue that goes hand in hand with growth, and Ohri believes that it will also present a challenge.
"It is the responsibility of the public and the private sectors to make housing available to people," said Ohri. "As growth continues, it will also become important on a state level to maintain the roads in the area. It will take some strong leadership to make sure we don't get lost in the funding scheme."
Education is another issue that Ohri believes is critical to rural areas. He believes the schools are the heart of the communities and that state and local governments must fairly and adequately fund public education to improve programs and curriculum.
"There aren't any other options," said Ohri. "I think were going to have harsh effects if we end up with schools that are ranked in the C and D categories. It really concerns me in these rural areas."
Ohri also sees the water issue at the forefront of state politics in the future.
"As a Grand County Commissioner I saw that we divert more water to other areas than any other county in the state," said Ohri.
He believes that Colorado water must be protected.
"Western Slope water must be retained on the Western Slope," he said.
Ohri believes that it is his duty to serve the people of the Western Slope, and that he can make a difference on the state level.
"I'm a good candidate and I believe have a good message," said Ohri. "I will be running on my strengths, not as what I perceive as my opponent's weaknesses. I believe I can work for a better Colorado."