Hanlon focuses on rural impacts to 3rd Congressional District

Ryan Summerlin
Karl Hanlon speaks to a crowd of followers at the Hotel Colorado on Wednesday evening.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Carbondale attorney Karl Hanlon, running as a Democrat for the 3rd Congressional District, has spent a three-day tour of the district focusing on his rural roots and the issues impacting the rural communities he wants to represent.

Chris Kennedy, from Grand Junction, announced on Wednesday his withdrawal from the race, leaving State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, from Steamboat Springs, as the only other Democratic candidate in the race so far.

Hanlon, who emphasized his upbringing on a ranch in the 3rd Congressional District, has represented the city of Glenwood Springs for 17 years and has practiced water law. Speaking to a crowd in the Hotel Colorado lobby on Wednesday, he said the district has suffered from a fundamental lack of leadership from Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, who is running his fourth term in Congress. At his first campaign event in Glenwood, Hanlon focused on health care, the Republican tax plan, energy issues and immigration.

On health care, he said, “I thought Garfield County was as bad as it could get on buying an individual policy. Turns out it’s not.”

Hanlon said that while individual policies in Garfield County are pushing $900 per person, some people he met in Alamosa were paying $1,200 per month for what didn’t amount to great insurance or health care. “That’s $1,200 per month, plus a $10,000 deductible, and about $15,000 out of pocket. That’s just not an acceptable outcome.”

Tipton voted numerous times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but never once did he raise his hand with a better idea or reach across the aisle for a better idea, Hanlon said.

Hanlon had several critiques of the Republican tax plan, which he said would prove devastating for small ranchers and farmers. One issue in particular is not being able to write off used equipment, like a tractor. “No small farmer or rancher I know has ever bought a new tractor. The write-off only for new equipment completely favors corporate America. It doesn’t favor guys out on the ground, trying to produce on small family farms.” He also pointed to the inability under this tax bill for small farmers to carry back losses over bad years for a tax credit. Tipton’s vote for the tax bill was a “direct vote against the farmers and ranchers that make up a big component of who we are here.”

He criticized the rollback of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, announced earlier this week, and pointed to the “renaissance” of Mesa County’s booming recreation economy as the kind of transition that the Western Slope needs. “What you’re seeing in Mesa County is a recognition that we need to transition out of extractive industries on the Western Slope, and into other industries for long-term sustainability,” he said.

Finally, Hanlon leveled criticism against Tipton for lack of action following the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. After President Trump announced the repeal of the Obama-era protections for immigrants, Tipton said that it was the perfect opportunity for Congress to step up and take action. But after three months, Congress hasn’t taken action and Tipton hasn’t stepped up to take a leadership role on the issue, he said.

Hanlon, who billed himself a centrist, said, “In the center there are a lot of us who want to work hard together to make the 3rd Congressional District, our communities, a better place, but we’re being left without that opportunity … because of the way our elected representatives, particularly career politicians, are handling our lives.”

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