Scott Yates knows it’s hard to find common ground in this hyperpartisan, divided political world.
But he’s hoping the voters in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District can agree on at least one thing: It’s time to get rid of daylight saving time.
The latest Democrat to throw his hat in the ring for the House seat, currently occupied by Republican Lauren Boebert, has a few priorities in his campaign platform. But kicking the time change to the curb is at the top of his list.
Yates moved to Pueblo from Denver to run for the seat. He sees himself as a problem-solver, a role he’s played repeatedly. And he’s been campaigning against daylight saving time for the past eight years — a problem he says needs fixing and something he vows to solve if he’s elected.
His fight against the time change started after he and his wife, Kathy, read “A Complaint Free World,” a popular self-help book, and he found himself grumbling about daylight saving time during a meal.
“She said, ‘I thought we weren’t complaining about things anymore,'” he said. Yates started to research reasons for ending the practice of moving the clock ahead an hour in spring and back again in fall, and launched the “Lock the Clock” initiative, since joined by others who want to end the practice.
“It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue,” he said. “It’s just one government is doing badly.”
He hopes this common ground can help bring people together in agreement and find a solution together, in an otherwise polarized political scene.
But don’t mistake Yates, 57, for a single-issue candidate, despite his passion for stopping the clock.
His other priorities include protecting water for Colorado’s use. “It drives me absolutely crazy that there are these lush, green golf courses in Vegas, all with Colorado River water,” he said. Yates is familiar with the preciousness of water in the West, and co-authored a book on the subject, “The Future of Water.”
He’s particularly concerned with the division of Colorado River water as it flows to California, governed by the Colorado River Compact. The centennial anniversary of its signing is coming up this year, and water users have found it divides up more water than is available, most of the time, as it was negotiated using generous hydrologic data. Since then, drought, climate change and population growth in the West has further strained the resource.
“It needs a reboot, clearly,” he said.
Another priority is what Yates calls “human-centered economic development,” which could include everything from broadband internet to any other infrastructure or tool helping to boost the economy.
The idea to enter the Congressional race didn’t cross his mind until Democratic favorite State Sen. Kerry Donovan dropped out of the race in November, after her Eagle County home was drawn out of the district. Since then, a handful of Democrats have joined the race but none are as well-known as Donovan. His primary opponents include state Rep. Don Valdez of La Jara and first-time candidate and community activist Sol Sandoval of Pueblo. Yates filed his paperwork to run for the seat on Jan. 25, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Yates figures at this point, it’s anyone’s race. He’s not a politician, and hasn’t run for office since an unsuccessful bid for student council nearly 40 years ago, but why not? He has experience in the political realm and likes solving problems.
The former Republican once worked for Gov. Bill Owens as a policy wonk. He volunteered on Republican Greg Walcher’s campaign when he ran for 3rd Congressional District in 2004. And he worked for Walcher when he was the state Department of Natural Resources director.
But at least 10 years ago, Yates changed parties. He said he can’t remember exactly when he switched his “R” to a “D” or what prompted the change.
What makes him a Democrat now is largely what he thinks made him a Republican back when he worked for Owens.
“Rule of law, free markets, free people … humane and business-friendly immigration policy,” he said.
“I don’t feel I’ve changed at all,” he said. “I just feel like the party’s been changed.”
Yates, who signed a lease on a home in Pueblo on Feb. 1, said he relates well to the Western Slope and was born in Glenwood Springs. His move to Pueblo is strategic — it has traditionally been an important part of the congressional district for Democrats to dominate if they want to win the election.
To read more of this story go to the Ouray County Plaindealer.