Wilhelm, Rankin agree on some but not all matters | PostIndependent.com

Wilhelm, Rankin agree on some but not all matters

Colin Wilhelm (Democrat) and incumbent Bob Rankin (Republican) agree the state needs to get rid of the Gallagher Amendment and improve health insurance costs and teacher pay on the Western Slope, but vastly disagreed on one issue facing voters this fall — Proposition 112.

The two candidates for the Colorado House District 57 state met at the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association's Issues and Answers Forum at City Hall Wednesday evening, along with candidates for Garfield County Commissioner and Clerk and Recorder.

Voters are being asked whether the setback for oil and gas operations should be pushed back to 2,500 feet throughout the state, Wilhelm and Rankin made it clear they will be voting differently this November.

"[Proposition 112] is a health and safety measure first and foremost…," Wilhelm said. "I'm looking out for the people. If you live within 152 meters of an oil well or natural gas well you are about 10 percent more likely to develop cancer throughout your life than if you live farther away, and it's a step down effect. The farther away you go the less chance you have of developing cancer."

Rankin, on the other hand, felt the bill would devastate the oil and gas industry in Colorado.

"I feel that we will transition from fossil fuels eventually, but no matter how fervently I feel about, it's my job to represent the jobs and economy of my district," he said.

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He added that Amendment 74, seeking to allow greater compensation from governments over private property owner rights, may not be right for Colorado because of the lawsuits it could open the state up to, the candidates agreed, however.

"It will hamstring local government," Wilhelm added on Amendment 74.

Both candidates advocated strongly for dismantling the Gallagher Amendment, as Wilhelm said he believes the only way to fix it is to take an amendment to the constitution to remove Gallagher and TABOR.

"I'm the leader of getting rid of Gallagher, leader on health care costs, a leader on education vision and I've always been an advocate for equal opportunity for rural kids," Rankin said in his closing statement, touting his experience and leadership positions in the state Legislature.

Rankin also said the state's improving revenue picture "gives us room to do some things" on education, transportation and other issues.

"I want to help our developmentally disabled and provide more child welfare funding, because we're not doing enough in those areas," he said.

Wilhelm said he would work for a universal health care system and wants to be pragmatic in finding new solutions for Colorado.

azorn@citizentelegram.com