Candidate stops in Steamboat

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— Democratic candidate for governor Rollie Heath swung through Steamboat Springs Friday, as part of a campaign tour through Northwest Colorado.

Heath threw his hat into the ring in July for the election in November 2002 and has been absorbing public opinion to educate himself for campaigning since April of 1999.

Heath, 63, spent nine years in the army before moving to Colorado in the early '70s to become a successful Denver businessman. He now lives in Boulder.

From 1973 to 1990, Heath was an executive with Johns Manville Corporation and was responsible for more than $1 billion in sales and managing 10,000 employees. In 1988 he co-founded the metal parts manufacturing company Ponderosa Industries. He also was vice president of Armco Steel.

Heath's political past is limited to campaigning for his wife, Josie, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 1992. However, he said his strong presence and experience in the private business sector would benefit the state if he were elected.

"I'm someone who will bring private sector experience to the government," Heath said.

He said that would be a fresh change from Gov. Bill Owens' style of politics, which Heath called a "lifetime politician."

Alternative forms of transportation is an issue that Heath has adopted, including expanding light-rail services throughout the metro area and exploring the option of building public train lines in the state.

"We can't lay enough concrete to solve our transportation problems," he said.

Heath also said regional air services is something the state should accept more responsibility for and officials should explore how state government can help.

He didn't go as far as saying that the state should sponsor guaranteed flight programs, but said ways to secure tourism the second largest industry in Colorado should be considered.

Along with transportation issues, Heath identified growth, rural health care and preserving open spaces as issues that need to be better looked at by the state. Heath said he has ideas on how to solve problems with these issues, but said he has a two-heads-are-better-than-one approach to finding a solution that works for everyone.

The key is listening to numerous opinions on the issues and finding a solution that way, he said.

"Let's get it on the table and deal with the tough problems," Heath said.

"There are solutions out there, if you just open up your mind," he added.

Heath will face off against other Democratic candidates during the primaries in August. Whoever wins that contest, will race against Owens.

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