Grand County commissioner eyes state senate seat
Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino said he had no intentions of running for a higher office, but the recent state redistricting pushed him to throw his name in the ring for Colorado Senate District 8.
Previously, Senate District 8 was represented by Sen. Bob Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale and covered Grand, Garfield, Jackson, Moffatt, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties.
However, the district was recently redrawn to include Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Moffatt, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties, as well as parts of Eagle and Garfield counties, which pushed Rankin out of the district and left the seat open.
Cimino said he was initially hesitant to run to fill Rankin’s shoes, but he was recruited by the Colorado Republican Party to run for the position.
“I’ve worked on a lot of bills and with the Legislature a lot, and with my military background, they thought I would be a strong candidate,” Cimino said. “I think I can bring a balance to the capitol.”
Cimino has been Grand County’s commissioner since 2016 and previously served 21 years as an intelligence officer with the U.S. Air Force until retiring in 2015.
Cimino will face a Republican primary before his name can appear on the November ballot. Republican Matt Soloman, of Eagle, is also running in Senate District 8. State Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat from Steamboat Springs, is the only other registered candidate in the race so far.
Cimino pointed to his success with implementing local legislation as evidence that he could be effective in the state legislature. He highlighted his work in Grand County to lower health insurance costs, improve roads and address workforce concerns.
“I’ve made a lot of progress at the local level, and I have over 20 years of experience at the federal level,” he said.
During his time as commissioner, Cimino has also worked with the Colorado Counties, Inc. and Counties and Commissioners Acting Together. That experience gave him a taste of working with differing viewpoints and compromising to create solutions.
“People accuse Republicans of being the party of ‘No,’ and I’m not going to be like that,” Cimino said.
Should Cimino make it to Colorado’s capitol, there are a few issues he wants to focus on, including affordable housing, public safety and education funding. As a new state senator, Cimino said he’s mostly hoping to provide a voice for the Western Slope and prod changes to legislation.
For example, Cimino supports the idea of government subsidies for housing, but he also wants to dig into building laws that add costs on the front end.
“Honestly, I’m just looking to nudge things a little here and there, … and I think if I get a lot of little nudges, it will improve things and bring us together,” he said.
Ultimately, Cimino said he wants to focus on policies and programs that don’t build a dependence on the government. One bill he would not support is a current proposal to allow municipal and government employees to unionize, which Cimino worries would create unnecessary obstacles for government functions.
Cimino also acknowledged that he has a lot to learn about the district, such as the casino industry in Gilpin and Clear Creek, but he feels confident he could represent the 10 counties successfully.
“We have both (agriculture and resort tourism) in Grand County, so coming from here, I understand the ranchers out west and the ski resort crowd in the east here,” he said. “I think I can understand the needs of the 10 counties pretty well, though I’ll be traveling a lot to them.”
For more about Cimino and his campaign, go to RichForSD8.com.
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