Heritage and origin were at the center of arguments presented by each state Legislature candidate during Thursday's Debate 2008 at Centennial Mall.
Ken Brenner, Democrat candidate for state Senate District 8, used much of his introduction and closing arguments to tell voters he is a local, a third-generation rancher from Routt County with a wife whose family extends three generations back in Moffat County.
Brenner said he knows the issues, has lived them, and voters can trust him to be a "champion" for water rights, gun rights, responsible energy development and protecting consumers from unfair gas prices.
He added he was proud to receive an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association for his gun ownership beliefs and to bring the issue of high gas prices to the Colorado Attorney General.
His opponent, Republican state Rep. Al White, of Hayden, used his time to tell residents that he has proven his commitment to this area and its voters the past eight years in the state House of Representatives.
White brought $26 million to Colorado Northwestern Community College in 2008, and he said he has a secure position on Legislature's Joint Budget Committee. From that position, which Brenner may not be appointed to, he has authority to advocate for Northwest Colorado on what he said is considered one of the most powerful committees in the Legislature.
Both candidates agreed the state should promote all energy development, including renewables and fossil fuels.
They also agreed the Legislature needs to rewrite the state's funding formula for kindergarten through 12th grade education because it disservices certain areas, including Moffat County, which is one of the lowest funded school districts in the state.
House District 57
Randy Baumgardner, Republican candidate for state House District 57, named water rights, gun rights and forest preservation as his key issues. As a rancher for 14 years, he said he has direct experience with each issue.
Todd Hagenbuch, Democratic candidate for District 57 and a fourth-generation Routt County rancher, said he also has the same experiences as many rural Moffat County residents. He named concerns with the Colorado Division of Wildlife management policies and negotiating and protecting water rights as a few.
Both took the same positions as their Senate counterparts regarding balanced energy development, however Baumgardner added fossil fuels should be more heavily encouraged at this time because of their immediate impact on local economies.
Regarding state transportation, Hagenbuch and Baumgardner advocated for returning more energy industry taxes to local communities affected by oil and gas development. The candidates said it's the industry's trucks tearing up local roads, and industry taxes should help pay for the damage.
Hagenbuch added that voters and the Legislature should pay attention to what recommendations come out of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Education. If he is elected, he will try to make sure the state works to repair dangerous roads that need repair before it addresses traffic problems in urban parts of the state.
The one thing that most disappoints Wayne Wolf about America is the country has given into "preservationist" interests and become inhospitable to industry development.
Wolf, Republican candidate for U.S. Congressional District 3, appeared at Thursday's event, despite the decision by his opponent not to attend. Wolf faces Democratic incumbent Rep. John Salazar.
Wolf said that America became lazy after World War II, and the country's politicians are more interested preserving the environment than utilizing natural resources. He said this amounts to a decline in American society, and that he will fight against preservationists as a "pro-development" politician.
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org