Mark Udall: Collaboration delivered |

Mark Udall: Collaboration delivered

Nearly six years ago, the people of Colorado sent me to the U.S. Senate on a promise to bring Colorado common sense to Washington. With the nation reeling from two wars in the Middle East and an economy hobbled by a financial crisis, we needed a change.

Today, Colorado and our nation are on the rebound. By working together, we have shown how our best-of-the-above approach to energy is a model for the nation and how our state is best served when we stand together and refuse to shut down in the face of adversity.

One of my proudest moments from my time in the U.S. Senate came when my bipartisan Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act became law. This common-sense idea emerged from the feedback I received from our ski areas and tourism-driven Main Street businesses, like those here in Steamboat. Thanks to this law, our ski areas have been unleashed to create jobs and boost tourism year-round.

And even though partisanship too often can grind the gears of Washington to a halt, I have worked to find collaborative solutions to the challenges we face as Coloradans.

These challenges include honoring the great debt we owe our veterans — a debt that can never truly be repaid. That’s why I have fought to ensure veterans in rural areas have access to the same services as their urban peers. When I heard from Western Slope veterans that they were being forced to travel hundreds of miles to Denver or Salt Lake City for essential surgeries, I brokered a deal that allowed the Grand Junction VA Medical Center to offer these surgeries locally.

That’s the kind of collaborative leadership Coloradans have demanded — and I have delivered.

Coloradans on the Western Slope understand better than most the threat modern mega-fires pose to our communities, water supplies and special way of life. That’s why I successfully pressed the U.S. Forest Service to acquire a series of new next-generation air tankers. These aircraft play essential roles containing small blazes before they can grow out of control.

I also have championed public-private partnerships to improve forest health, reduce wildfire risk and create jobs. That’s why I successfully strengthened the conservation stewardship program to help turn the problem of beetle-killed trees into local jobs and profit. From sawmills to biomass energy, this program is now delivering results for Colorado.

While these have been important step forward for Colorado, there is still much work to be done. We need to continue making sure we have an economy that puts success within reach of all middle class families — not just the wealthy. That’s why I worked with Sen. Elizabeth Warren to put forward a plan to make it easier for students and their families to refinance their college loans. It’s also why I’ve never stopped pushing to increase the minimum wage and make sure that equal pay for equal work becomes the law of the land.

Although challenges remain, with your vote, I am confident we can keep Colorado and our nation moving forward.

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