Editorial: Tracy for Senate, Rankin for ed board, other recommendations
October 28, 2016
Lightning round recommendations for political offices, constitutional amendments and other ballot questions:
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 8: We back Democrat Emily Tracy in her effort to unseat Sen. Randy Baumgardner, whom we find aloof and unhelpful.
Strike 1: His move the last two winters to kill a bill making clear that passenger cars must have adequate tire tread or traction devices in the winter in the mountain corridor. He says the law was redundant, but the Colorado Department of Transportation and emergency responders supported the update and elevated awareness the bill would have allowed.
Strike 2: His vote against a bill in the Senate Transportation Committee, which he chairs, that would have made "rolling coal" illegal. That's the antisocial, childish practice of modifying light diesel trucks to spew black exhaust, usually to irritate bicyclists, pedestrians or Prius drivers.
Strike 3: In a rare Glenwood Springs appearance at this fall's Issues and Answers forum, he dismissed climate change and potential impact on the state's recreation industry arguing that ski areas open earlier than ever and stay open longer.
He's out: Baumgardner stands up for people driving on bald tires and clogging I-70 and intentionally spewing smoke at bystanders, and thinks that snowmaking means there's no climate change.
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Tracy believes the state can support community efforts to ease the district's attainable housing crunch, and wants to improve child protection systems and examine how to lower health-care costs.
STATE SCHOOL BOARD: We endorse Republican Joyce Rankin of Carbondale to retain her seat. Rankin, a former teacher, is a hard worker who will stand up for Western Slope interests. Rankin backs Republican orthodoxy on school choice and vouchers, but the work of the state board is more granular than those broad policy issues, and Rankin can be counted on to dig in and make informed choices.
Her opponent, Christine Pacheco-Koveleski, did not even earn the endorsement of her hometown paper, the Pueblo Chieftain, and a decade ago faced a recall as a school board member there. The Chieftain said her "divisive past does not bode well on a state board."
AMENDMENT 71: This effort to make it harder to amend Colorado's constitution makes it too hard, requiring petition signatures from each of the state's 35 Senate districts equal to at least 2 percent of the registered voters in each district. We don't have a problem with requiring 55 percent approval once a proposed amendment is on the ballot, but the signature rule would allow only well-financed groups to clear the bar.
Follow the money on this. It's about blocking anti-fracking measures. The biggest contributor supporting it is Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy, and Energy Independence, which has given $2 million to the campaign. The committee’s biggest contributors are oil companies: Anadarko Petroleum Corp. ($6.5 million), Noble Energy Inc. ($2.5 million), PDC Energy ($1.25 million) and three other energy companies at $500,000 or more.
Even if you dislike fracktivists' efforts — which failed to get on the ballot this summer even without these requirements — this proposal doesn't just raise the bar for approving constitutional amendments. It erects a very tall wall.
AMENDMENT 70: This raises the state minimum wage to a measly $12 per hour by 2020. That's not a living wage, but will help the working poor a little bit. We think that businesses that pay a little bit more actually will be better off financially because employees are a little more likely to stay longer and will be more motivated to provide better service and attention to detail.
The argument against this boils down to letting the market set wages, but the fact is that we need labor laws to ensure that workers get minimal decent treatment.
PROPOSITION 106: Modeled after a 20-year-old Oregon law that permits "any mentally capable adult Colorado resident who has a medical prognosis of death by terminal illness within six months to receive a prescription from a willing licensed physician for medication that can be self-administered to bring about death." This is logical and compassionate, and we support approval.
PROPOSITIONS 107 AND 108: We support 108, which would create open primary elections in Colorado. Rather than only registered Republicans getting GOP ballots in the mail and Democrats getting Democratic primary ballots, all registered voters would be mailed ballots and could choose to vote in one party's races.
This would allow independents to vote without having to declare a party, or would allow Democrats in Garfield County (or Republicans in Boulder County) to have a say in local races in which the primary in effect determines the winner.
We are swayed by the argument that closed primaries around the country have empowered the extreme fringes of parties, and if candidates knew they had to appeal to independents and moderates, we might end up with officeholders who are less extreme, helping break partisan deadlock.
We oppose 107, however, which requires a presidential primary that commits Colorado's delegates to a winner-take-all candidate — who may no longer be in the running at the convention. We think how a state party allocates its presidential delegates is party business.
U.S. SENATE: We support re-election of Michael Bennet to U.S. Senate. Darryl Glenn hasn't proven himself qualified for the job — the ad showing him doing pull-ups doesn't count. He called for Donald Trump to quit the race after the genital-grabbing recording was released, then rolled back his renunciation. In a debate earlier this month, he refused to take a position on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is a butcher of his own people.