Aljanich holds open house

Steamboat man campaigning to be U.S. Representative

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In his bid to be a U.S. Representative, Matt Aljanich has put 12,000 miles on his 1994 Ford Explorer, gone through 350 gallons of coffee and more than 200 bags of potato chips.

Yet at an open house on the lawn of the Yacht Club on Sunday, Aljanich seemed to be just rolling up his sleeves for the work he intends to finish before the Aug. 10 Republican primaries.

Aljanich entered the race late, officially announcing his candidacy almost a month ago, and he will be up against four other Republicans.

"I have to work harder than the other four candidates. I am definitely the dark horse in the race, but I feel I am the candidate uniquely qualified to meet the needs of the district," Aljanich said.

Sunday's open house was the first Aljanich plans to hold as he comes down the final stretch in the Republican race for the seat vacated by Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction.

The Democratic candidate is John Salazar.

Aljanich's Republican opponents are Greg Walcher, former director of the Department of Natural Resources; state Rep. Gregg Rippy, R-Glenwood Springs; state Rep. Matt Smith, R-Grand Junction; and Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino.

While veterans, police officers and teachers dropped by Sunday, the open house was also a chance for Aljanich, a Steamboat Springs resident, to visit with classmates who were in town for Steamboat Springs High School's 20-year class reunion. More than 50 people attended the fund-raiser.

A F-14 fighter pilot during the Gulf War, Aljanich is heavily campaigning on the platforms of national security and health care.

As an 18-year Navy veteran, Aljanich served in the Gulf War, was an exchange officer with the British Royal Air Force and currently works as a watch officer based at the Pentagon.

He also is a commercial pilot for United Airlines, and he started a heath care software company four years ago.

"We need to have people in Washington who know health care and national defense. It is where most of our national budget is spent," he said.

The terrorist threat is still a concern, Aljanich said, and he thinks the country must win the war on terrorism.

Aljanich also said natural resources were closely tied to national security.

"We have to find a responsible way to use the tremendous resources we have here in the Third District. It's a balancing act, protecting the environment is equally as important," he said. " It doesn't make sense anymore to continue to enrich Saudi kings and princes, who will only turn around and attack us."

On the state's water concerns, Aljanich said Colorado has to make sure on the federal level that other states do not infringe on its rights. He also said the public infrastructure, such as dams, has to be strengthened to protect against terrorist attacks.

Aljanich's second open house will be Thursday evening at the home of Kelly Meek, his high school basketball coach.

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