Max Tyler takes over for Green in HD 23

By Katy Schultz

“Sad day to see Gwyn go, but I think we have a good replacement,” said one of the 30 or so friends, family members and supporters who watched Max Tyler take the oath of office to represent House District 23 on Thursday.

Rep. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood, right, holds up his hand as House Speaker Terrance Carroll swears him into office on Thursday on the House floor.
Photo by Jason Kosena/The Colorado Statesman

Retiring HD 23 Rep. Gwyn Green, 70, whom he replaces, was pretty in a bright pink-flowered dress as she watched. In a resignation statement issued April 27, Green said her health and the desire to spend more time with her grandchildren were prompting her to leave midterm.

Exactly a month later, a House District 23 vacancy committee elected Tyler, 61 — who ran unopposed — to serve the remainder of that term. Tyler is expected to run for re-election as an incumbent in 2010. Green, who was first elected to the seat in 2004, would have reached her term limit in 2012.

“He’ll be an excellent state representative,” said Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll, of Denver, shortly after swearing in Colorado’s newest House member.

In an interview after the ceremony, Tyler told The Colorado Statesman that his first focus will be on health care, housing and education issues.

“We fall way behind in this state in terms of health care,” said Tyler.

House Speaker Terrance Carroll shakes the hand of Rep. Max Tyler Thursday morning after swearing him into office.
Photo by Jason Kosena
The Colorado Statesman

Tyler also worries about Colorado’s lagging higher education funding, especially for community colleges, which rely heavily on state funds.

“Community colleges are a fountain of opportunity for our people,” said Tyler.

Tyler has been registered with the Democratic Party in HD 23 for the past 20 years, worked closely with Green on her campaigns and served as chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party for the past two election cycles.

“He is a very authentic person,” said Colorado Democratic Chair Pat Waak in a separate interview. Waak said she’s confident that Tyler will follow in Green’s footsteps in serving the varied needs of the district, which encompasses the city of Golden and parts of Lakewood and Edgewater. HD 23 is home to the Colorado School of Mines, Molson Coors Brewing Company and the National Renewable Energy Lab.

“I expect him to carry her mantle,” said Waak.

Tyler, a graduate of the University of Denver, former small business owner and longtime Democratic activist, served on former Denver Mayor Federico Peña’s Airport Finance and Development Committee and on former Gov. Roy Romer’s Small Business Council.

In a separate interview, Tyler said the variety of his experiences has widened his perspective and helped him understand people from all walks of life.

“That helps me understand the needs of the people, and it helps me understand that business has a pretty strong voice,” he said.

HD 23 is a swing district that was held by the Republicans before Green took it by only 48 votes in 2004 after campaigning early and hard. Her margins increased in 2006 and 2008.

Tyler plans to model his campaigns on Green’s, and won’t wait until August 2010 to begin campaigning.

“I’ve knocked on thousands of doors,” said Tyler. “I’ve worked closely with people. I foster leadership and I foster development.”