3rd CD candidates work independent, unaffiliated voters | PostIndependent.com

3rd CD candidates work independent, unaffiliated voters

Matthew Bennett
mabennett@postindependent.com

Congressional candidate Diane Mitsch Bush makes a point during a candidates forum Wednesday at the Glenwood Springs Library hosted by the Western Colorado Independent Voters, as primary challenger Arn Menconi, left, and Nathan Steele, representative for candidate Karl Hanlon, look on.

Wednesday night, Western Colorado Independent Voters held a forum in Glenwood Springs for the Democratic primary candidates whose names appear on the ballot this month.

Participating were former Colorado State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, former Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi, and a campaign representative for Glenwood Springs municipal and water attorney Karl Hanlon, who could not attend due to work commitments.

The forum, held at the Glenwood Springs Library, presented many questions, but one underlying one took precedent – How will a Democrat win over unaffiliated voters in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District?

In 2016, Colorado voters supported Proposition 108, which effectively allows unaffiliated voters a voice during the primary election cycle; a first in Colorado state history.

Without question, whichever Democrat remains standing following the June 26 primary vote, he or she will then face the mountainous task of defeating incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton. The Republican has represented the district since 2011 and in 2016 defeated Democratic challenger Gail Schwartz by nearly 50,000 votes.

When asked, "If elected to Congress, what would you do to make America's election system more democratic?" Menconi answered that elections need to utilize paper ballots and questioned the authenticity of other voting methods such as voting machines used in Ohio.

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Mitsch Bush, on the other hand. called for the end Citizens United, which, according to the former state representative and Routt County commissioner, has created not a democracy but rather a "dollarocracy."

Hanlon's campaign manager, Nathan Steele (fielding questions on behalf of the Hanlon campaign) also agreed with Bush that Citizens United must end immediately.

After the first question the moderator from the Western Colorado Independent Voters opened the floor to public questions, which covered a variety of issues directly facing Colorado's 3rd Congressional District.

"We need an economy that works for everyone, not just the 1 percent," Mitsch Bush said. After rattling off numerous issues, like healthcare, education and transportation she also stated regarding the Second Amendment, "The NRA came after me, so what? I represent you, not them."

Karl Hanlon told the Post Independent in a separate interview Wednesday, "Unaffiliated (voters) in this district, I think, just like Republicans and Democrats, are super concerned about health care right now. It is the number one issue I hear about everywhere I go," Hanlon explained. "It is the approach, to how do you solve that problem that differentiates I think myself and both Arn and Diane in this race."

Hanlon, however, in the same interview acknowledged that both Menconi and Bush believe in a single-payer healthcare system, a policy he himself does not necessarily see as the universal answer.

"My position is there are a lot of ways for us to get to universal healthcare which we absolutely have to do. And, I really do view healthcare as a right, but what I am most interested in is making a difference in peoples' lives today and tomorrow."

At the forum, Hanlon's wife Sheryl Barto also delivered opening remarks on behalf of her husband and the Hanlon campaign.

During the meet and greet segment of the event, Menconi told those in attendance, "I am the candidate no one has heard of," however, once the forum started the self proclaimed activists' opinions which Menconi, himself, describes as "radical" and "socialist" came through loud and clear.

The Chicago native asked those in attendance whether they thought they lived in an oligarchy or a democracy? Citing what he views as, "the Global Corporate Mafia," the former Eagle County commissioner advocated on behalf of "ending endless wars, banning assault weapons, making college free, and impeaching President Donald Trump (or. as Menconi refers to him, 'Predator-in-chief).

Menconi also touted having been arrested in Washington, D.C. fighting for what he says he would also fight for as a congressman.

Balloting in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary will conclude June 26, followed by the general election on Nov. 6. Tipton is unchallenged on the Republican side.

Voters are also deciding contested Democrat and Republican races for Colorado governor, attorney general and treasurer. Locally, Garfield County Republican ballot voters will decide between candidates Lynette Lacerda and Bonnie McLean to face Garfield Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico in the fall election.