Candidate Q&A: HD57 Democratic challenger Elizabeth Velasco

Democrat Elizabeth Velsasco, House District 57 incumbent.
Courtesy photo

For this year’s election, the Post Independent sent House District 57 candidates questions on key challenges facing the district, which consists of Garfield and Pitkin counties. Democratic challenger Elizabeth Velasco provided the answers below via email. Ballots are being mailed out this week; Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

What do you think could be done to bolster bilingual efforts and offerings throughout Colorado?

I’ve been proud to serve as a public information officer during the recent Grizzly Creek fire, helping to make sure every citizen in our valley, no matter their background or language, received information that kept them safe and out of harm’s way. And, as a small business owner who runs a translation and interpretation firm, I have worked with everyone from the courts, to hospitals, school districts and non profits. This experience has taught me that the state can lead by example towards ensuring that all state emergency announcements and important forms are published and delivered in both English and Spanish (and any other language needed). From traffic warnings on I-70 to evacuation orders, we must prioritize the safety of all of our constituents by eliminating confusion.

Ranching and farming have a symbiotic relationship with water supply. What do you feel needs to be done to sustain both our agricultural industry and water supply?

Firstly, we must honor our commitments made in the Colorado River Compact. Colorado has done its part towards securing the West’s water future, and it’s time for lower-basin states like California and Arizona to do theirs. Further, drought is no longer something that happens, but should be treated as our new normal. Farmers and ranchers are feeling this the hardest, and I support the US Department of Agriculture and Colorado Department of Agriculture’s efforts to help offset the financial loss of drought, but we must commit ourselves to doing more to fight climate change. We cannot simply recommend the growing of less water intensive crops; we must be aware that farmers and ranchers have a bottom line they must meet every year to survive, and can’t simply change their product year-to-year. Finally, I will not support any new transmountain diversions or new buy-and-dry efforts by Front Range counties. We must keep water in the basin its born in, and I will be a champion for farmers and ranchers to have every resource they need to produce healthy local food for Colorado families.

What do you think the legislature should do to increase housing availability for lower and middle income households in Colorado?

I support maintaining tax credits for affordable housing through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. We can also incentivize the development of affordable housing by raising the number of affordable units required in new projects and development, and we can also strengthen partnerships with Western counties to fight for federal dollars from recent legislation to ensure that Western Colorado gets our fair share of resources.

How do you think recently passed oil and gas regulations have benefited or hurt oil and gas-producing counties? What would you do about those as a legislator?

Oil and gas workers are some of the highest-skilled workers in the state, and we can create a green energy future that fights climate change while creating good-paying jobs for these workers. I support policies that help diversify our economy in the long-term, and those policies work best when paired with support for our current workforce. This is a hard truth of a changing and evolving global market that is moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies. I will partner with labor unions, apprenticeship providers, and skill accelerators to make sure that Western Colorado workers aren’t left behind, and I won’t support further changes to our policies that don’t center workers.

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