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Oatman-Gardner's new, quieter role 

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She spoke up for public lands, leading the charge for a local trails and open space tax.

She spoke out for Richard Skorman, as campaign director for his two elections to City Council.

She spoke against mismanagement and incompetence, when she organized the successful "End the Chaos" effort to recall two District 11 school board members.

Ann Oatman-Gardner has long been a voice for change and action in local matters. Now she's taking on perhaps a broader challenge, replacing Skorman as U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar's regional director. And the new job, which she starts Jan. 22, has her, well, speechless.

"I've already learned my lesson," she says by phone following a request from the Independent to talk about the position.

She defers instead to a press release from Salazar's office and to Cody Wertz, the senator's spokesman.

"Obviously, we're very excited" she's taken the position, Wertz says, explaining an office policy that only designated spokespeople make statements to the media.

Oatman-Gardner starts later this month as the senator's eyes and ears in the region. She comes to Salazar from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, where she's examined matters relating to growth at Fort Carson. Rob MacDonald, PPACG's executive director, speaks highly of her work.

"She got the right people together to address some of the issues facing Fort Carson," MacDonald says.

Skorman, meanwhile, will be leading the Pikes Peak Conservation Corps, a new environmental program being established at the Catamount Institute.

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