Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coloradans Look to the Future After Midterm Elections

Denver democrats are gearing up for possibly another vote a mere two weeks after the midterm election results reestablished John Hickenlooper as mayor and Michael Bennet as state senator. But despite Chris Romer’s win of the senate seat in House District 32, local political leaders are speculating that he will resign by December.

As a result, more than 30 members of House District 1 gathered over breakfast last Saturday at Sooper’s Credit Union to meet four possible replacements for Romer, as well as discuss the future of Colorado.

Before introducing State Representative Beth McCann, Healthcare for all Colorado President Irene Aguilar, Denver County Secretary Owen Perkins, and former EPA manager Jeffrey Hart, State Representative Jeanne Labuda commented on the consequences of republicans retaking control of the House of Representatives.

“Colorado is the only state that didn’t lose money in the economic downturn because of Kerry Kennedy,” Labuda said. “And she [was] kicked out because of this unstoppable force that’s out there.”

That unstoppable force, also known as the GOP, has been gaining momentum over the past few months due to strong reactions against the Obama Administration’s financial and healthcare policies. So it was no surprise that these issues were at the top of the meeting’s agenda including the shrinking middle class, immigration law, and education.

Each probable candidate has a particular concern that they were especially passionate about addressing if given the opportunity to fill Romer’s seat. For McCann, it is providing adequate funding for schools.

“If we cannot give our children affordable and quality education both at the K-12 level and at the higher [education] level,” McCann said, “it is really going to cost this state in terms of our productivity, in terms of the quality of our lives, and our children’s lives.”

Aguilar echoed McCann’s sentiments, especially when it comes to education for children of undocumented immigrants.

“I’m very concerned about people who already have to overcome barriers to succeed in life getting other barriers as well,” said Aguilar. “Unfortunately, a lot of times children don’t even know that they’re undocumented” so to deny them in-state tuition would be “putting on the children the sins of the father.”

Aguilar’s primary interest, however, is “providing quality health care for Coloradans.” Using her experience as a physician for credibility, Aguilar argued that hospitals merely treat diseases instead of focusing on preventative measures that could save citizens (and the government) time and money—not to mention unnecessary suffering.

Hart also mentioned finances, but specifically how they are being grossly mismanaged to support party agendas.

“I don’t know about you,” he said as he addressed the attentive crowd, “but I am absolutely sick about this Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision that has poured all this money into our campaign—especially this last cycle.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, both republicans and democrats spent close to $4 billion dollars during the last campaign.

“Imagine what we could have done in this country with $4 billion dollars on things that really matter, that really account for something,” he emphasized.

Unlike Hart, Perkins seemed more interested in earning money for the state than the allocation of its resources.

“The environment is one of my biggest issues,” he said while stressing the importance of preserving Colorado’s ecosystems for tourists. A surprising fact is that tourism in the form of bed and breakfasts, ski resorts, casinos, and campgrounds is one of the largest employers in the state of Colorado. These seasonal occupations provide work for 200,000 Coloradans which, for Perkins, is reason enough to preserve them at all cost.

Once the potential candidates finished stating their case, the floor was opened for a question and answer session. A moderator passed the microphone between the four as they took turns addressing the audience’s inquiries on everything from medical marijuana to foreclosures and what illegal substances constitutes a child’s suspension from school.

But regardless of the breadth of topics discussed during the meeting, one thing was clear—Colorado democrats believe that they are more equipped to handle them than republicans.

“We all have to stay together and we have to protect our democratic values because they’re under assault.” McCann said. For instance, the Tea Party has made it very clear that they would like to see Obama’s presidency restricted to one-term. And political commentators are already speculating that former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin will make a run for the white house in 2012.

Time will only tell if local and national democrats can regain their authority.

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