The Colorado Transportation Commission is to name a new vice chair this week.

That’s important primarily because that person historically becomes chair of the powerful state panel that decides what transportation projects get funded each year.

That’s why Club 20 is asking the 11-member panel to consider naming the region’s representative, Kathy Hall, to vice chair.

In a letter sent Tuesday to commission chairman Bill Thiebaut, a former state senator and district attorney from Pueblo, the Western Slope coalition of business and community leaders wants the commission to consider someone from outside of the big cities, particularly given the commission’s new mandate to focus on smaller, rural projects.

“Kathy has been a dedicated Western Slope leader since relocating to the region in 1980,” Club 20 Executive Director Christian Reece wrote in a letter Tuesday to Thiebaut. “She has been active in almost every facet of civic leadership at the local, regional and state levels.”

Since Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shoshana Lew took over that job nearly a year ago, the commission has changed its focus when it comes to rural projects.

Rather than treating them piecemeal and focusing too much on high-profile, and highly expensive, larger projects, the commission last fall approved a round of smaller, mostly rural projects from additional money given it by the Colorado Legislature.

So it makes sense to have someone who represents rural areas to serve in leadership on the commission, Reece said.

“Having previously served two terms as a Mesa County commissioner and as the Western Slope director for two U.S. Senators, Kathy has an intimate knowledge of the transportation challenges facing the region,” Reece wrote. “This knowledge coupled with years of leadership experience make her a highly qualified candidate for the vice chair position.”

The commission is expected to vote on a new vice chair on Thursday.

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