Southwest Colorado is seeing a bit of musical chairs for representation in the statehouse after Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango announced her resignation.
Don Coram of Montrose will take over the Republican Senate District 6 seat, moving up from the House after he won the support of fellow Republicans at a vacancy election on Saturday.
The legislature will convene on Wednesday.
“Ellen and I had a great working relationship over six years and truly did have the interest of not only Southwest Colorado, but rural Colorado in general,” Coram said.
His House District 58 seat will be filled by Marc Catlin of Montrose, the 64-year-old water right development coordinator for Montrose County who has a background in farming and real estate.
“I really felt like we needed to have somebody that would represent the 58th District in a way that recognizes the agriculture, the natural resources, and speak to them,” Catlin said. “I’m concerned about the community, the economic vitality of the Western Slope. We’re just slowly grinding to a halt.”
The changes in representation come after Roberts in October announced that she would resign to focus on “new work possibilities that will build on my past legal practice and my legislative experience.” She served a decade in the legislature, including six years in the Senate and four years in the House.
Both Roberts and Coram took a more moderate approach in the legislature.
Coram most recently supported a restructuring of a fee assessed on hospitals that the majority of Republicans opposed. He believed the Hospital Provider Fee change would have freed money for schools and crumbling roads and highways.
Coram also went against the majority of his party in 2015 in supporting funding for a program that provides intrauterine birth control to poor women.
Meanwhile, Roberts supported legislation to legalize same-sex civil unions and she was largely a supporter of abortion rights. She also fought to legalize rain barrels, another issue that some in her party had concerns with.
Catlin said he is capable of carrying the torch by working across the aisle.
“I’ve been known to be a compromiser, though I try not to compromise my values,” he said.
For Coram, the road to the Senate was always a likely outcome. He considered the position more than seven years ago when he thought about running against Democrat Bruce Whitehead in 2010. But after meeting with Roberts, Coram felt she would be the best candidate to take on Whitehead.
Instead, Coram went for the House District 58 seat in 2010 when then-incumbent Scott Tipton left a vacancy to successfully run for Congress. Coram only has one term left in the House, so he felt it was an appropriate time to seek the Senate seat.
“As Sen. Roberts and I have agreed, I have kept her on speed dial,” Coram said. “My district will come first and party will be second. Not everything the caucus does is good for my district.”