After logging several legislative accomplishments and 96K miles on her Prius, Rep. Mitsch Bush steps down to focus on congressional run
November 3, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Diane Mitsch Bush's last day as a Colorado state representative on Thursday was filled with lots of hugs, some transportation hearings and a collegial sendoff from a state senator from the opposite party who didn't always see eye to eye with the Steamboat Springs Democrat.
"Senator Randy Baumgardner gave a really great, bipartisan speech about how much he enjoyed working with me," Mitsch Bush said Friday as she reflected on the end of her nearly five years working at the statehouse.
Mitsch Bush said she's proud of her bipartisan record as a state representative.
And the speech from Baumgardner on her final day was a testament to the respect Northwest Colorado's state lawmakers have for one another despite their political differences.
"We need more of that," Mitsch Bush said of bipartisanship.
Mitsch Bush, who stepped down to focus on her campaign for congress, also got a sendoff from Pueblo Democrat Daneya Esgar.
"I got a standing ovation, and everyone was hugging me. It was a great way to end my tenure as your state representative," Mitsch Bush said.
She said she’ll remember the daily prayers from different denominations and the clapping and cheering after every pledge of allegiance.
She also expressed gratitude to her constituents who offered feedback throughout her tenure.
Asked what she was most proud of during her tenure, Mitsch Bush said it was her ability to bring people together, for good policy.
She also recalled a ringing endorsement she got from the Colorado Livestock Association's Steve Holdren when he presented the lawmaker with an award in 2015.
"He said, ‘you know, down at the capitol, there are politicians and there are statesman, and Mitsch Bush is a statesman," she recalled.
What did Mitsch Bush learn during her tenure?
"My poker face has improved a great deal," she said. "This is democracy so you can't raise your eyebrows and make faces."
She also said she got better at educating her Front Range colleagues on the unique factors that shape the economies and communities that lie on the Western Slope.
During her tenure as a state representative, Mitsch Bush logged more than 96,000 miles on her Toyota Prius.
Her long drives from Steamboat to Denver also influenced her legislation.
Having to wait three-hours for accidents to be cleared from snowy Interstate 70 near Silverthorne drove Mitsch Bush to propose legislation that was dubbed the snow tire bill.
The legislation would have required drivers to have adequate tires or chains or alternative traction devices from Oct. 1 to May 15 on the interstate between Morrison and Dotsero.
While the bill never became law, Mitsch Bush still said the bipartisan push was successful in bringing awareness to the issue and allowed the Colorado Department of Transportation to educate the public about the importance of having proper winter tires.
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She is challenging Republican incumbent Scott Tipton for the seat.
Mitsch Bush said there is unfinished business she is leaving in the state legislature, including finding ways to better fund the state's transportation system, broadband and water infrastructure.
But she was motivated to run for Congress because she thinks the progress Colorado has made on several issues, including accommodating immigrants known as Dreamers, is under threat by the current House majority and the presidential administration.