Application for Congressional Commission for Michael James Sawyer

Contact Information

Full Name

Michael James Sawyer

Eligible for commission


Party Affiliation



Attorney. Partner at the law firm of Karp Neu Hanlon in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Have been employed by Karp Neu Hanlon and its predecessor firm since 2002. Practice consists of representation of small government entities, water law, property law, and construction law.

Educational Background

2000 Juris Doctor, Law School, University of California Berkeley, emphasis in environmental law 1997 Fulbright Scholar, Austrian National University for Natural Resources, study of forestry and landscape planning 1996 Utah State University, BA in Forestry with emphasis in natural resource policy

Zip Code


Congressional District


Past Political Activity

Mildly active in the Garfield County democratic party. Have volunteered to help a few county commission candidates. Have donated to campaigns including (not a complete list): Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennett, John Ossoff, Cal Cunningham, Theresa Greenfield, Dianne Mitsch-Bush, Karl Hanlon, Collin Wilhelm, Beatriz Soto, Leslie Robinson, Paula Step, Democratic Congressional Campaign Commission, Colorado Democratic House Majority Project, Garfield County Democratic Party.

List of Political and Civic Organizations belonged to

Two Rivers Community Foundation Board, Ninth Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commission, Ninth Judicial District Bar Association

Organization and Advocacy Experience

Much of my work as an attorney relates to representation of small municipalities. Frequently I participate in working with community groups on topics that have a legal overlay. This allows me to identify issues of commonality between persons and work to forge mutually beneficial solutions. Sometimes this occurs with an overlay of political or personal anger. In those situations I am frequently called upon to behave in a neutral way in order to maintain decorum and work toward compromise. My role as an attorney also requires that I advocate on behalf of clients. This can be done respectfully and without engaging in personal attacks. I am a very frequent participant in public hearings and consider myself adept at presenting public positions in open forums.


I believe in the goals of Amendment Y. Redistricting needs to balance the inevitable party-political considerations with the need to allow defined communities of interest to have effective representation. Further, individual political concerns are often best addressed in competitive districts where candidates are forced to engage with the public to receive votes. As a resident of the West Slope, I believe that Colorado's mountain communities have unique political and economic interests that require having a district that can effectively advocate for West Slope / mountain community solutions. This requires that West Slope / mountain communities have special consideration in redistricting to ensure that their unique needs are not overly diluted.

Statement on Working with Consensus

As a Town attorney, I am often respected more for my role as a somewhat neutral arbiter than my role as an advocate. For the municipal boards that I represent, it is important that the attorney not be viewed as biased toward any board member or faction. As such, I am very familiar with the need to remain open to positions and ideas and demonstrate a willingness to discuss business in a respectful manner. Based upon my years of working with local government boards, I am aware that consensus and compromise are not achieved quickly. Rather, it is a commitment to a process and actions of showing respect and genuine listening that allow consensus and compromise to be reached over time. Colorado's future, which we entrust to our elective leaders, is too important to allow rhetoric or overt partisanship to dominate the process of drawing new districts.

Relevant Analytic Skills for Commission

Every day my career requires that I apply analytical skills to identify the relevant facts central to solving a problem. Frequently this requires sifting the facts and issues that truly matter to a case or a group of people from the emotion that may surround the situation. I believe that I have the skills to listen to public testimony about what is important to voters or interest groups and distill core connections and commonalities. I also have the ability to summarize core concepts from a mass of information and present it in easy to digest points.


Racial categories the applicant identifies with:
Applicant identifies with the following gender