State Senate District 8 candidates speak out |

State Senate District 8 candidates speak out

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 two of the three candidates running to represent state Senate District 8, Republican Randy Baumgardner and Democrat Emily Tracy. Libertarian candidate Sacha Weis of Craig did not respond to the Post Independent’s request.

Senate District 8 takes in all of Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Grand and Summit counties. The seat is currently held by state Sen. Jean White, who lost her re-election bid in a Republican primary challenge by Baumgardner.

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 4.

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.

Randy Baumgardner, 56, Jackson County

State Senate District 8, Republican

Four years ago I asked the voters of northwest Colorado to trust me to represent their values in the Colorado General Assembly, including sensible development of our natural resources, supporting job growth, limiting the growth of government and protecting personal property rights. I was honored to receive their votes and the confidence of my district to fight for these beliefs.

The past four years have been hard fiscally for the state. Hard decisions have been made to balance the financial needs of the state and the limited resources and revenues that were being generated through taxes and fees. In finding this balance, I have always taken the side of the taxpayers of Colorado, knowing it is your money that we are spending.

I have never voted to raise taxes, and I have never voted to raise fees. In fact, I sponsored a bill to repeal parts of Gov. Ritter’s fee increase on vehicle registrations.

I am a fiscal conservative. You may hear during the course of this campaign that I voted against funding K-12 or voted against seniors, but the truth is I voted against this year’s budget because it raised spending over last year. This increase in spending is one of the reasons I decided to run for the Senate.

I voted for the House version of the budget. The House version kept spending within the limits of the 2011-12 budget. However, when a revised version returned from the Senate, spending had been raised 7 percent. I voted against members of my own party who felt that just because we had the money we should spend it.

I don’t know many families in northwest Colorado that received a 7 percent raise, and I believe the state should continue to operate frugally until the economy recovers. I am running to provide the leadership we need in the Senate to keep spending under control.

For the economy to recover, we need to support sensible legislation in the Senate that limits burdensome regulations and encourages private industry to invest in Colorado. We need to make Colorado the best state in the country to do business.

l am proud of my work in the Legislature to promote business and create jobs in Colorado. In this race I have received endorsements from the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI), the National Federation of independent Business (NFIB), the Colorado Farm Bureau and the Associated Builders and Contractors, organizations that have all recognized my candidacy as the best option for promoting a commitment to a strong business climate in Colorado. Additionally, this year I was honored to receive the Legislator of the Year Award from the Colorado Economic Development Council for my promoting a positive healthy economy.

In my time at the Legislature I have learned that it is not enough to simply vote for someone who sounds good on the campaign trail. You have to vote for the person who will fight hard to get things done. My record proves that I have always voted with my district in mind.

There is a sharp difference between my opponent in this race and me. I have a proven record of promoting the right policies to keep Colorado moving forward. I have a proven record of protecting our civil liberties. And I have a proven record of protecting western Colorado’s natural beauty while promoting responsible energy development. I am proud of that.

There is much more work to be done to strengthen the state, keep our spending under control and promote job creation. I once again ask for your vote and your support.

Emily Tracy, 65, Breckenridge

State Senate District 8, Democrat

There is a lot at stake in the election this year, and the need for our elected officials to work together across the Continental Divide as well as across party lines is more important than ever. My years on the city council of Canon City and on local land use planning commissions, my conflict resolution experience, and my being married to a conservative Republican have prepared me well for this challenge.

For months I have been walking neighborhoods in the seven-county district, which includes Garfield County and all of northwest Colorado. I’ve spoken with hundreds of voters at their doors, and have talked to many more on the phone and at events. There is no better experience than talking directly to voters. I’ve heard so much and I’ve learned so much.

People in the rural and resort communities of northwest Colorado love where they live, yet they’re concerned about the economy. I am saddened to talk with the many who are underemployed, or own small businesses that are struggling. Some are underwater in their mortgages and have friends who are in the same boat.

I’ve talked with recent college graduates who either can’t find a job that utilizes their hard-won degrees, or are facing huge student loan debt and don’t have sufficient income to make loan payments.

Many voters express concern about the environment, and the quality and quantity of Western Slope water. They know preserving these are at the core of the quality of life we enjoy in rural Colorado.

There is widespread support for quality public education in rural Colorado, and substantial concerns about insufficient funding for both P-12 and higher education.

Most voters in the district agree that Western Slope issues and concerns do not receive adequate attention in the Colorado Legislature. They want an end to the partisan bickering, and they are angry that majority rule was blocked at the end of the regular legislative session in May, resulting in the need for a costly special session. Voters want problems solved, and they want their elected leaders to work across the partisan divide to get things done.

Because of one-man, one-vote, the Colorado Legislature is mostly an urban and suburban legislature dominated by Front Range interests. Legislators are mostly good folks, of course, but those from the Front Range may have little understanding of the unique interests and needs of rural northwest Colorado. It is critical that we elect strong, effective legislators in our part of the state.

It is not good enough for a Western Slope legislator to say, “I have just one vote,” as my opponent said at a recent candidate debate. The voices of our northwest Colorado legislators must be far stronger than the one vote they have.

As a legislator, you must be effective in influencing policy beyond your one vote. You must work across party lines with other rural legislators to solve our unique problems.

Over the years, the most effective Western Slope legislators have been the ones who worked with legislators of all political persuasions to get things done. The least effective legislators have been the ones who merely followed the direction of their party leaders in Denver.

My experience in conflict resolution and working across the partisan divide will serve the voters of this district well. We need elected officials who can sit down with others with diverse views, help determine our common interests, and work toward solutions that address as many of those interests as possible.

I will bring an independent, common sense voice to the Senate. I look forward to your support in November.

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