In a rare move, the Democratic House leadership appointed a member of the minority party as vice chairman of the Agriculture, Livestock and Water Committee. The new vice-chair? Representative Marc Catlin, a Montrose Republican.
“I don’t know when it happened last,” Catlin said, of a minority party member being appointed to this level of committee leadership. “I didn’t politic for this at all. You don’t expect, form an opposition party, to be appointed to anything like that. It might be an indication that we’re going to try to be a little more nonpartisan in ag. We need to be.”
Catlin was appointed April 21, “effective immediately,” according to a letter signed by Speaker of the House Alec Garnett.
“Representative Catlin has proven himself to be an honest and respectful member of the minority party who defends and upholds the dignity of the chamber,” Garnett said on Twitter. “We’ve worked together for many years and I know he’ll make an excellent vice chair.”
Catlin steps into the role as Karen McCormick becomes chair of the committee. The previous chair, Jeni Arndt, was elected mayor of Fort Collins. Arndt on social media thanked Garnett for being “willing to break the mold” in appointing Catlin.
Catlin said the appointment will give him more access to House leadership and will help position him at the front edge of water and natural resource issues.
“It might give me a better platform to speak. The main thing is that the commission is going to be about ag, livestock and water, rather than party politics. That’s what I’m hoping for, anyway,” he said.
“I think my voice will be louder. People recognize what we’ve been trying to do is good for the state and my district. We’re all ag here. I think it will help.”
The committee is the first stop for all bills pertaining to water, the lifeblood of the Western Slope and agriculture as a whole. Catlin’s entire working careers has been in water.
“I think that’s one of the things they were thinking of. It’s hard for me to brag up what I’m saying about me,” Catlin said.
“It’s not so much about me. It’s about having people that are looking at water and ag from a point of view that allows them to see it, rather than politics.”
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.