Meet the candidates for the U.S. House

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Matt Aljanich
Some life and death issues will be decided in the 3rd Congressional District race, candidate Matt Aljanich said.

The two most important issues in this race are the war on terror and health care, Aljanich, a Steamboat Springs resident, said.

As a retired Navy fighter pilot and cofounder of Credential Smart, a health care firm, Aljanich said he is the only candidate with the background to successfully work on these issues.

"This is not the time to send someone to Washington with a learning curve on the war on terror," Aljanich said.

He was the last of the five candidates to enter the race, petitioning onto the primary ballot June 1.

Aljanich supports the war in Iraq, and said it was necessary to relieve the pressure the nation's policy of containment placed on the military. Now that the nation is liberated, he hopes the military will be able to gradually pull out to focus on nations such as North Korea and China.

The PATRIOT Act is a necessary policy for the nation to combat terrorism, because it gives the military the same tools, especially surveillance abilities, that law enforcement officials already have and use to fight the war on drugs, Aljanich said. He supports the Act as long as those accused of being terrorists are afforded their constitutional rights if they are U.S. citizens or their rights under the Geneva Convention if they are arrested as prisoners of war.

To help fix health care, Aljanich proposes allowing people to set up savings accounts to pay for preventative medical treatments, regular checkups or less inexpensive medical needs such as glasses. That way people wouldn't need to access their health insurance each time they need to pay a medical bills,

A Roman Catholic, Aljanich said he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman and he would vote for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage if the issue proceeds to that point. He said he's a pro-life candidate.

Dan Corsentino

Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino acknowledged it's difficult for him to campaign for the 3rd Congressional District in Northwest Colorado.

"One, you're unknown, and two, you have to earn trust," Corsentino said.

But after he's explained his background, he said people from this part of the state have been inclined to listen to him.

Corsentino has been elected sheriff four times in Democrat-dominated Pueblo County. While in office, he said he cleaned up a corrupt sheriff's office.

As a congressman, Corsentino said about health care that he would work to return to a doctor-patient relationship and create competition between health care entities.

He'd push for mandatory insurance for anyone younger than 10, lift the ban on importing Canadian prescription drugs, encourage tort reform to limit trials against doctors and create a tuition debt service so doctors could pay off their medical school bills by volunteering to work in rural communities.

Corsentino supports the war in Iraq and a multilateral effort in the country.

"I was the first to say if we don't take the fight to them we'll be fighting in the streets of Denver, Chicago, New York," he said.

Corsentino is a pro-life candidate, but he sometimes wonders why men are included in the abortion debate, unless the man fathered a child. In cases of rape or incest, women should be able to choose, but he doesn't think abortion should be used as birth control.

He said he believes marriage is between a man and a woman but would like to think locals get to decide the issue, rather than the federal government. He said he opposes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Corsentino called fossil fuels "outdated," and said the country needs to look at hybrid fuels and increase hydroelectric power.

"I would be in a position to go against our party. We need to create an America for the future," he said.

Gregg Rippy

State Rep. Greg Rippy, R-Glenwood Springs, says he's the only candidate running for the 3rd Congressional District who loses more than just the election if he doesn't win on Aug. 10.

Rippy, a one-term state representative, is giving up his seat in the state legislature in an attempt to become a congressman. Rippy owns an asphalt business with his brother.

Rippy caught some flak from other 3rd District candidates for skipping the caucus process and petitioning onto the primary ballot. But from the very beginning of his campaign, he said he had his eyes set on Aug. 10. Rippy favors eliminating the caucus system.

Rippy opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants. The country shouldn't tolerate not knowing who is inside its borders, he said. He would work to streamline the worker visa program and look to the private sector to begin bringing workers into the country.

Along with that, Rippy said he wouldn't want the government to attempt to stem the outsourcing of American jobs to overseas countries.

"I've never seen a government intervention that helped," he said.

Rippy said it is time for the international community to take part in the military intervention in Iraq. He called the Middle East a "3,000 year-old religious hotbed," and he said it's a culture clash the United States isn't going to stop. He compared the liberation of Iraq to the former states of the Soviet Union, some of which are still struggling to make democracy work.

Rippy opposes a ban on gay marriage because he doesn't believe such a restriction is a constitutional issue.

"I understand concerns about activist judges, but there are so many issues that are so important, to attempt to put out a constitutional amendment ... takes away from some very important government issues," Rippy said.

Matt Smith

For Rep. Matt Smith, R-Grand Junction, the 3rd Congressional District race is all wet.

Smith says water is the biggest issue facing Western Colorado this election cycle.

Smith, a water lawyer and twice-elected state representative, says he's the only candidate in the field of five Republicans who has a record of defending Colorado's water. Smith opposed Referendum A, which would have established funding to create new water storage in Colorado, and he drafted basin of origin protection bills three times.

Along with water, health care and the war on terror are the most important issues in this race, Smith said.

He backs the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan and insists the country must go after terror cells located in other nations. The U.S. should first seek diplomatic solutions for nations harboring terror cells, but if the nations don't take the lead in removing the cells, then the United States will have to push them, he said.

"This conflict could take a generation to resolve," he said.

Smith supports amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage. The Constitution already said each state must recognize another state's legal rights, Smith said. Therefore, if gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, other states must recognize the marriages of homosexuals wed there. That's not right, Smith said.

Smith has voted to ban late-term abortion, require parental notification when minors seek abortions, and eliminate public funding for abortions. But he publicly committed himself to not overthrowing Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Victims of rape and incest should have some room to make decisions when dealing with unwanted pregnancy, Smith said. But he wished people would put as much money and energy into supporting adoption as they do fighting abortion.

Smith said he's been active in promoting zero emissions coal technology, which he called "the cornerstone of the hydrogen economy." He intends to promote coal gasification, a process by which coal is exposed to heat and pressure, resulting in the production of natural gas.

Greg Walcher

Greg Walcher has raised more money than anyone else in the 3rd Congressional District race, reporting $300,000 in campaign donations by July 15.

Walcher, the former director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and a peach grower from Palisade, won nearly 70 percent of the delegate vote at the Republican 3rd District Assembly in June.

Walcher said he's the only candidate with true experience in the federal government. He was a member of Sen. Bill Armstrong's staff. He's worked on projects in every county in the expansive congressional district, he said.

If elected to Congress, Walcher said he would introduce Endangered Species Act reform as his first act as a legislator.

He called the Endangered Species Act a "failure." Though 3,000 species have been protected under the act, only 30 have recovered enough to be delisted.

On economic issues Walcher is a conservative. He favors making President Bush's tax cuts permanent and decries the estate tax, also called the death tax, saying it will be the death of family ranches. Many families can't afford to pay the taxes on their home when the ranch's owner dies, and they have to subdivide the ranch.

Walcher favors downsizing government by cutting programs such as the Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Department of Energy and the Department of Education.

"These aren't federal responsibilities," he said.

Walcher supports the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Walcher would support a congressional amendment to ban gay marriage and he's a pro-life candidate, endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee.

"I believe life begins at conception and we have an obligation to protect those unable to protect themselves," Walcher said.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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