Candidates for U.S. and state house also face off at forum |

Candidates for U.S. and state house also face off at forum

An election issues and answer forum at Glenwood Springs City Hall Tuesday evening also brought together candidates for several state offices. Rep. Al White (R-Winter Park) and his challenger for state House District 57 Andrew Gold fielded questions from a media panel and an audience of about 50 people.Both Gold and White focused on energy development in Garfield County as a pressing issue for the state legislature.Gold said the state’s regulatory agency, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), needs to be expanded to include elected officials from communities affected oil and gas development. COGCC should also increase the number of field inspectors in the state, from the current 11 to 50, Gold said.”We need a responsible organization where someone can call and get their concerns answered and that will cause energy companies to behave better,” he said.”Andy has some reasonable ideas,” White said. “But some give me pause for concern.” He pointed out that several years ago, then Speaker of the House and Rifle native Russell George backed a bill that would have changed the format of the COGCC to include a more diverse group of commissioners, but the bill was defeated.Now George says “it’s a bad idea to reformat the COGCC because he thinks it’s doing a better job than any time in its history,” White said.White, Gold and Scott Tipton, who is challenging incumbent Congressman John Salazar for his seat representing the 3rd Congressional District, all responded to questions about immigration. Salazar did not attend the forum.Luis Polar, editor of the Spanish language newspaper La Tribuna, asked if there is a problem with undocumented immigrants in our region. “Our biggest problem is not necessarily with immigrants in the region now” but what it will cost local and state government in health care and schooling in five years “if we don’t stem the flow,” White said.Gold had a different view.”Immigration … is vital for economic benefit and vital culturally,” he said. “No one in this room is not the son or daughter of immigrants.”But immigration and its impacts do need to be considered, not as a political problem but a social one. Tipton had the strongest words to say about immigration.”We need to protect our borders from terrorism,” he said, and also stop the flow of illegal drugs over the border, especially methamphetamine.Stronger immigration laws are necessary. “If you are going to be in the country – I’m not anti-immigration – you will be here legally,” he said. “We must first secure our borders and address workforce needs.”Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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