Ali Hasan: Western Slope warriors

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— When I first signed up to run for state Senate District 8, I did it with the intention of serving as the Western Slope Warrior. Despite the odds, my team and I set out to conquer two obstacles. The most important one would be killing the plan to increase drilling on the Roan Plateau, with half of the royalties going to a Higher Education Fund that would mostly benefit Front Range interests; a potential bill that was promoted by legislators Josh Penry and Al White.

To us, all royalties should stay in impacted areas for the purposes of county expenditure. On our tours to the Roan Plateau, it was a travesty to see the number of semi-trucks, filled with natural gas, driving up and down dirt roads that were intended for cattle grazing.

Our second goal was to get the Republican Party to become more sensitive to non-partisan Western Slope issues like keeping severance tax in impacted areas and exercising more action on the pine beetle infestation problem. In the past week, Rep. Al White has pulled out his sponsorship of the Roan Plateau bill discussed above. In running against White in the Senate District 8 primary, we made sure to highlight our disagreement over his sponsorship of such a bill, and we rallied the people against it. We congratulate White in listening to the people, and we celebrate this move as a victory for the Western Slope.

In making the transition to running for House District 56, our team requested the Republican House Delegation to prioritize Western Slope issues and host town halls where they could be discussed. I was proud to see a large delegation of Republican Representatives visit us, where town halls were hosted in Breckenridge and Avon last week. The delegation included Minority Leader Mike May, Assistant Minority Leader David Balmer, Caucus Chair Amy Stephens, Representatives Frank McNulty, Jerry Sonnenberg, Jim Kerr, and Stella Garza Hicks.

I was grateful to see this delegation field questions about the pine beetle, severance tax, the Roan Plateau, and other issues important to our community. Mostly, I was touched to see them all promise to prioritize these issues in the legislature. While I'm proud to say that our team's mission was accomplished, it is credit to our fellow Western Slopers for getting this action done.

There is a Western Slope Warrior inside all of us. Letters to the editor, community talks and organization were a catalyst of change. Let us never be afraid to stand up for our Western Slope rights. May peace and love be upon you all.

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