Candidacy: Colorado House District 58, Democrat
Education: Cedaredge High School followed by four-year apprenticeship at Delta-Montrose Electric Association
Occupation: DMEA flag engineer for 35 years, labor union officer
Family: Married, lives in Montrose
Prior Government Experience: none, but has been elected vice president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 111 representing 5,000 electrical workers in Colorado and Wyoming
Tammy Theis decided to run against District 58 incumbent Republican Don Coram when previous Democratic candidate Greg Thornton withdrew from the race mid-summer.
“I’m too young to retire,” Theis said. “I’m eager to continue to work.” And that work, in the political arena would, she said, reflect her work in the labor field.
“I’m a native of Colorado, and I believe the citizens of the four counties that make up HD 58 need an advocate. For opportunities, for advancement. Almost like the New Deal,” said Theis.
Her name is pronounced “Tice.”
“My husband’s family are German and Dutch,” she said, going on to emphasize that “America is still based on a diversity of cultures; we still need to embrace what America is based on.
“The trade unions,” for example, she said, “are all about opportunity and advancement. Trade unions have internships, apprenticeships, skilled training. I taught at the Job Corps, a boot camp for young adults. It’s an example of where we can continue to make a difference. We need to get these opportunities out there.”
The big issues facing the district, Theis said, are “economy, employment, environment and energy.” Sustainable employment, she said, will come with “job development in the areas of developing our natural resources and our renewable energy.
“An example is the [Delta-Montrose Electric Association] hydro project in Montrose. It is bringing employment, sustainable energy. We need to do similar things all over the valley, all over the four counties.”
Theis also mentioned “soil health” and “water issues” as key concerns. “We need to work with the farmers and ranchers. We’ve got tremendous people in place. We need to help them with rotating crops, with new or reintroduced crops. In the 1960s, Holly Sugar was a mainstay in the valley – and Coors grew barley here.
“We need changes in how we use water for irrigation and for animals,” she said.
On the jobs front, she said, “The cycle goes like this: jobs will come with more efficient use of resources, including mining in the West End, and tourism all up and down the district. I’m meeting with Ute Mountain Ute tribal leaders; they want equality and they have economic issues, too.
“Our issues haven’t changed that much since Roosevelt’s New Deal. But we’re losing sight of the basics, the Bill of Rights, human rights, fighting for democracy abroad. We need to maintain that.”
On the scope of and diversity in the district, Theis noted, “There are 71,000 citizens in this district, of all ages. I have been amazed at the unequal political awareness as I’ve traveled around. One woman in a store asked me what the 58th District was. I carry a map with me and showed her. She said, ‘No one has ever showed me the map before.’”
As to why she should win, Theis said, “I’ll win because I hit the ground running when I was given the green light. And I haven’t stopped.
“I come from simple means. My dad was a barber. My mom was an employee of State Farm Insurance. I’ve worked for chambers of commerce. I worked on Senator Isgar’s campaign. I’m up for this type of challenge. I believe with all my achievements I can be an advocate for the needs of the 58th District.
“My skill set has gone through the ceiling lately,” she said. “I’ve developed a website. I’m available by phone, email. I intend to be a tangible advocate for all areas of the district.
“Win, lose or draw, I will continue to be an advocate for the Western Slope. For doors to open: adding training, improving salaries, improving education.
“I intend to continue to participate, mobilizing and getting the diverse groups in our district together.”