State House District 57 candidates speak out
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The campaign season for the Nov. 6, 2012, election is here, and the Post Independent wants to make sure readers have plenty of information before casting their vote.
This month we are publishing opinion columns written by candidates for U.S. Congress, the state Legislature, Ninth District Attorney and the Garfield Board of County Commissioners, as well columns for and against the Garfield Open Lands and Rifle sales tax ballot questions.
Today we present columns by the three candidates running to represent state House District 57, Democrat Jo Ann Baxter, Libertarian Dan Enright and Republican Bob Rankin. House District 57 takes in all of Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
Later in October, the Post Independent Editorial Board will publish its endorsements of candidates and ballot questions.
The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 9.
For dates of upcoming local election forums, watch the calendar on page A4.
For an archive of these stories, coverage of campaign forums and other election issues on the local, state and national level, please visit http://www.postindependent.com > News > Elections.
Bob Rankin, 69, Carbondale
State House District 57 candidate, Republican
My name is Bob Rankin and I’m running for a seat in the Colorado State House to represent Garfield, Rio Blanco, and Moffat counties. Those three counties together make up House District 57. As a Garfield County resident, I will be proud to serve as your representative.
Our state Legislature is almost invisible to Colorado citizens until something happens. Most people can’t name their senator or district representative. But when a marijuana initiative or a tax increase appears on the ballot, voters pay attention.
While actions of the state government and Legislature may not be on the front pages, the state of Colorado is responsible for transportation, health care, education, the judicial system, and a business environment made up of regulations, rules, taxes, fees, and reports.
The Legislature considers and votes on hundreds of bills every year that affect our lives in important ways. This responsibility must incorporate massive federal regulations and unfunded mandates as well as the state Constitution.
In addition to balancing a budget while continually improving on the services provided, the representatives you elect face some big overriding challenges in the next several years:
• Transportation is underfunded and our roads and bridges need repair.
• Our public education system is failing to prepare citizens for the workforce and is not competitive with other countries. We have to support our public education system but demand improvement and alternatives. Change is proving to be difficult.
• Our state Constitution contains too many amendments and needs to be updated and simplified.
• Too much reliance on government instead of a free market system has led to a work environment where the state regulates even minor activities of private businesses, thus creating a hostile situation for small business start-ups and expansions. Because of restrictive regulations and severe taxes, jobs in the private sector cannot be created fast enough to improve our economy.
Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the union. I’d like to keep it that way while improving business productivity. We must balance the multiple uses of our lands, including efficient and affordable energy production, agriculture, and public recreation, while protecting that same environment.
I expect to be outnumbered by urban, East Slope interests in the areas of water, agriculture, ranching, energy development and tourism. I will work hard with my partner Western Slope legislators to be your voice.
My life experience includes being an electrical engineer, army officer, systems engineer and project manager, and a vice president and president at Ford Motor Co.’s aerospace subsidiary and at Computer Sciences Corp. In the last few years, I’ve been a small business owner and operator. I’ve hired employees, and I’ve laid off friends when times were bad.
I know that government is chaotic and facts are elusive. But the truth matters and real solutions are vital to survival. Budgets do matter and money has to be spent wisely. I have always been committed to fact-finding, problem-solving and responsible leadership.
As your representative, I can uniquely contribute to the political process by combining these life experiences with a principled philosophy and a strong commitment. There are tough challenges facing us that require strong leadership.
As your representative, I can uniquely contribute to the political process by combining these life experiences with a principled philosophy and a strong commitment. There are tough challenges facing us that require strong leadership. I am proud to be your neighbor and I will be proud to serve as your District 57 representative while working hard for the Colorado I love.
Jo Ann Baxter, 72, Craig
State House District 57 candidate, Democrat
We live in a great place. I believe that to my core. It is a big reason I’ve spent the last 38 years living, teaching school and raising my family in Craig. It is also one reason I’m running to represent you in our state Legislature.
House District 57 includes all of Garfield County, Moffat County and Rio Blanco County. It is important that we send a legislator to Denver who recognizes our strengths and can help identify and address the needs of the communities in all three counties.
State government plays an important role in the day-to-day workings of our lives. Agencies like the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Colorado Parks and Wildlife set policies that directly affect our economy. The Legislature passes laws and sets budgets that have a profound influence on our schools, transportation and roads, wildlife and public lands, water allocation and river health.
As your representative, I will work to make our state government work better for you and for our communities. The issues I intend to emphasize are education, economic development and water.
As a lifelong educator, I know the state Legislature plays an important role in educating our children. Some school districts in this area are struggling, and all of them depend on money from the Legislature to pay for educators and facilities.
I will work hard to improve education funding, recognizing that there are some very real limits in terms of how much money is available, because of the poor economy and the constitutional restrictions, such as TABOR, Gallagher, and Amendment 23. But there are ways the Legislature can support our schools, and I will make it a priority.
Unlike my Republican opponent, I strongly believe that our tax dollars should remain dedicated to our public schools. Private schools that do not have to accept all students and do not have to comply with the same regulations imposed upon public schools should not be funded by public money. I do support schools of choice. Parents should have choice as to where their children get an education, but public funds should be used for public schools.
As your representative, I will work to ensure that economic development within this district is addressed by the Legislature and the state agencies under Gov. Hickenlooper’s administration.
Affected industries include power generation, coal, natural gas extraction, recreation and tourism, farming and ranching and all associated businesses. I will do my best to bring a balanced and distinctive representation of these businesses that support our families and communities in northwest Colorado.
The importance of water cannot be under appreciated or overstated. I believe the Legislature has a role in protecting the quality of our water, in protecting our access to water and in studying water storage facilities in order to make them more efficient and usable for Colorado residents.
As your state representative, I promise to work toward compromise, with a common sense approach to governance. We can make state government work well for all of us, if we keep in mind that we are here for many of the same reasons – for the beauty of this place, and the bounty it offers, no matter whether we work as ski instructors, waiters, roughnecks or teachers; whether we ride snowmobiles, mountain bikes, or horses; or prefer to cast a fly or go out hunting every fall; whether we are Republicans or Democrats.
Please, let me work for you in the state Legislature. I promise to do my best to make our state government work for all of us.
Dan Enright, 53, Silt
State House District 57 candidate, Libertarian
My name is Dan Enright and I am your candidate for Colorado House District 57. Our family’s roots go back several decades in Garfield County. My professional background includes successful ventures in mining, transportation, agriculture, and communications.
Such experience makes me uniquely qualified to focus on what I believe are Colorado’s top three legislative issues: long-term fiscal stability, long-term energy solutions, and highway and transportation.
As a Libertarian, I subscribe to the foundation of our Constitution and the rights of state. I personally advocate for civil liberties and defend the rights of the individual.
The U.S. Libertarian Party was born in Colorado. We have become a national political party from a local level up to presidential candidate, including former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. We seek to restore personal freedoms and true financial stability.
The vast majority of Colorado residents I’ve spoken with over the years agree with the ideals of the Constitution: the rights of the individual, the need for financial stability, warfare only when legally declared, and the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.
I will seek to pass a resolution to curtail Colorado National Guard deployment in undeclared foreign wars. I will support resolutions such as Colorado SB 12-137, which would allow the use of gold and silver as legal tender in Colorado commerce.
I will support any resolution that legalizes the farming of non-psychotropic commercial hemp. It is presently legal to import commercial hemp products, but not to grow it. By allowing cultivation, Colorado would create a new drought- and disease-resistant commercial crop that has hundreds of industrial uses.
I reaffirm the 10th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and its application to our state.
The people of western Colorado exude strengths that have been praised and written about for over 100 years. We boast an abundance of minerals, natural gas, livestock, feed and produce. People come from all over the world for unparalleled recreation opportunities. Fresh air and spectacular beauty regularly inspire visitors to make the Western Slope home.
My intent is to affirm and support the needs and desires of the people of our district. As state representative, I will work to attract the businesses and support we need to maintain our health and prosperity.
To effect positive change in our district, we need to recognize the issues confronting us from local, state and national levels. Our real estate values alone indicate there is trouble brewing. Half of all homeowners in our district are suffering from a value-to-mortgage imbalance. The value of the American dollar is plummeting while our resources are being auctioned off. River water flow has been reduced and redirected while local need increases.
We must prepare for the future by doing what is right for us today. The will of the people can and will propel us to a safe and stable future by understanding our real needs and voting Libertarian.
Let’s attract more jobs to our district by utilizing our local resources, such as the option to use clean and locally available natural gas to fuel our vehicles. Let’s promote technological advancements in energy and agriculture and utilize the abundant sunshine we enjoy so much. Let’s reach out to medical professionals who seek our way of life as they embrace the new facilities that have been built in our communities. To the retirees looking for a safe and healthy environment to spend their years and rewards, let’s give them a reason.
I’m passionate about achieving these goals, and we need the people who can make it happen. I need your vote to make that happen.
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Garfield County is seeking to qualify its four west-end communities for Colorado’s Rural Jump Start program, providing tax breaks for new businesses.