Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Steamboat Springs Scott McInnis answers to plenty of people.
The 10-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives serves a constituency that spans an area larger than the size of Florida. More than 2.8 million registered voters live in Colorado's Third Congressional District.
But the scope of his representation doesn't affect the Grand Junction native. He said he tackles his responsibility one person at a time.
The congressman said most Coloradans, particularly those who live in his primarily rural district, care about a few fundamental things water, forest management, protection of natural resources, job security, Social Security and Medicare, high educational standards and strong local economies.
McInnis stopped in Steamboat Springs Tuesday afternoon to speak to the local Rotary Club and do some quick campaigning along U.S. Highway 40 before heading south to shake more hands and find out what issues are most affecting his constituents.
The Steamboat stop was part of a whirlwind tour that began last week and will continue through the election.
McInnis, who is seeking a sixth term, said he is doing what he has always done.
He leaves his Washington, D.C., office every Friday for his home turf. It's healthy, he said, to get out among the people he represents.
"You get a good sense of your community," he said.
During Tuesday's stop, concerns about drought, fires and chronic wasting disease were brought up.
McInnis has been working on a bi-partisan piece of legislation that would promote healthier forests and protect watersheds and communities from fires through logging, controlled burns and thinning.
Management of forests has long been an emotionally charged issue, and the forests have taken the brunt of it, he said. "It's not good science," he said.
The long fire season propelled the need for healthy forests into the spotlight, but McInnis said the concern has waned with the changing of the seasons.
"It's human nature," he said. "Memories fade quickly. It will go on the back burner."
But that doesn't mean the chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health will let work on Colorado's forests go dormant this winter.
McInnis has been to the far reaches of his district in the last week, including little known Rocky Ford and Dove Creek, near the Four Corners region. And he still has quite a few destinations left from now until the election. With Steamboat Springs checked off the map Tuesday afternoon, he, his wife and staff hit the road for a quick stop in Meeker and then on to Grand Junction.
McInnis wanted to reach his hometown in time for dinner that evening.