Dear Rio Grande County Democrats,

It is an honor and a privilege to receive the Rural Advocate Award this evening. I am truly sorry that I cannot be there with you in person. Please know that I am inspired by and grateful for your support. And I very much look forward to seeing many of you on my next visit to the San Luis Valley.

One of the great privileges of this campaign has been traveling to communities in places like Rio Grande County, such as Monte Vista and Del Norte, and your neighboring towns across that beautiful Valley. It’s been so valuable for me to hear from you, to learn about your concerns, and to see the amazing energy, innovation, and commitment you bring to building a better future for yourselves, for your children and for future generations. You can be a model for the state on many issues, and you can help to bridge our state’s rural-urban divide. Our rural communities and our cities are deeply connected and Colorado should not be divided along these lines. The issues are not partisan issues – they are Colorado issues, and American issues. We need one another to solve them with creativity, and mutual support.

As Attorney General, I’ll work tirelessly to support every part of our State. I’ll be working to help get high quality broadband to every county; to create new economic opportunities statewide, not just on the Front Range; and to take on the opioid epidemic, which I know is ravaging rural communities like yours. And I know that water is absolutely vital to places like the San Luis Valley. As your Attorney General, I will do everything in my power to protect our water and work with you toward water sustainability, so that your agricultural communities and economy can thrive into the future.

I also know the importance of Colorado’s public lands— they are critical to sustaining agriculture as well, from healthy forests and watersheds that are the source of your water supply to the importance of grazing on public lands, which is key to sustaining the working ranches in your region. And all of the other ways that rural communities like yours depend upon public lands to meet your real needs and quality of life—from hunting and fishing to providing firewood for heating your homes, along with the public lands recreation that your families enjoy, as well as the ways that public land recreation can contribute to your local economy.

As you know, I have visited the San Luis Valley six times in the course of this campaign. I deeply believe in the importance of candidates showing up in person, to build direct relationships with people in communities around our great state. And while I am unable to be there with you tonight, I greatly appreciate your acknowledging my commitment to you and to advocating for rural areas. We have important work to do together. I believe that —with the right leadership and your community’s proven commitment to working together and finding solutions—the future of the San Luis Valley will be very bright. You have my commitment to help you and to work with you, in every way possible, as your next Attorney General.