Rep. White may run for state senate in 2008 |

Rep. White may run for state senate in 2008

Collin Smith

— Al White, state representative for Northwest Colorado’s 57th district, is thinking about running for the 8th district state senate next year. Several Craig and Moffat County officials said they would support him if he runs.

“White would be a cornerstone just like (State Senator Jack) Taylor,” Moffat County commissioner Saed Tayyara said. “He is up-front, doesn’t hide anything. Bring any issue to him, and he’s always willing to sit with someone until he understands their position. He doesn’t hesitate to stand and speak up about county issues.”

Taylor, who has represented Northwest Colorado for the lpast 15 years, will be prevented from running for re-election due to term limits, coinciding with White’s term limits in the Colorado House of Representatives.

House members are limited to four, two-year terms, and senators are limited to two, four-year terms.

When reached Monday, White would not comment on whether he would run. He plans to announce his campaign intentions before the Club 20 meeting Sept. 7 and 8 in Grand Junction.

White and Taylor have worked together to represent Northwest Colorado at the state level, Tayyara said.

Among their platform issues are a balance between environmental protection and energy, western Colorado water rights, tourism and education.

White spearheaded the recent senate bill to restructure the minimum amount school districts could receive under the 1994 School Finance Act, said Joel Sheridan, Moffat County School District assistant superintendent.

The school district historically has been at the bottom in terms of public school funding across the state, and the gap between the top and bottom was growing. White created legislation narrowing the gap by mandating that no school district could receive less than 96 percent of the average district funding.

“I think he’d be a great senator,” Sheridan said. “He’s always supported education. I’ve talked to him enough times to know that he’s a man of his word and always does what he thinks is right.”

White also believes water rights are essential to Northwest Colorado’s livelihood, said Matt Johnston, a freelance campaign consultant for White. Johnston is the son of Bill Johnston, Craig city councilor and Fire/Rescue deputy chief.

“On the Western Slope, water is the lifeline,” Matt Johnston said. “The overuse of water on the Eastern Slope, the portion of gluttony there, really creates a drain on Western Slope water. (White) is not going to allow (the Front Range) to grab water for no benefit to the people that live in western Colorado just so they can water their lawns.”

Even White’s would-be detractors are hard-pressed to cite instances where he did not adequately represent Northwest Colorado.

City Councilor Terry Carwile, who ran against White in 2002 as a Democrat, said he has had no problems working on local issues with White.

“I can’t say bad things about Al, he gave me a beating,” Carwile said. “From a city government point of view, he’s been pretty good to work with. For instance, he and (Taylor) have both been really helpful regarding the Boys & Girls Club. (White) has been really involved with water rights and : he’s always been really good on education.”

Although White is a formidable candidate and has the boost of name recognition in the district, changes to the 8th district, which has been redrawn, could present challenges. It now includes areas likely to be more Democratic, such as the eastern side of Garfield County in the Glenwood Springs area, Carwile said.

White has spoken with Taylor, and Taylor plans to give him his full endorsement if he chooses to run.

“Should he choose to run, he has my full and complete support because of his history representing the people of Northwest Colorado,” Taylor said. “As a current member of the Joint Budget Committee, that puts him in a strong position to help. Every decision made has to be made by a unanimous vote. (White) can block legislation that he feels hurts us.”

White said he is proud of his history representing Northwest Colorado. He feels voters can trust his commitment to them and the area.

“I think I have demonstrated an ability to determine what is in the best interests of the citizens here,” White said. “I put partisan politics to the side and only represent the best interests of the people.”

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