Senate District 8 candidates address voters, issues
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Upcoming Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots meetings and guest speakers:
• 7 p.m. April 5 — Featuring Colorado House District 57 candidates Bob Rankin and Ron Roesener
• 6 p.m. April 7 — Featuring Colorado Senate District 8 candidate Randy Baumgardner
— Meetings take place at The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave. For more information, visit www.bearsearspatriots.com.
“If you’re going to place a label on somebody, you better do your homework and know what that bill was and what it meant because a lot of those (bills in the report) really don’t have anything to do with taxes. In this state, we can’t raise taxes without a vote of the citizens.”
— Colorado District 8 Sen. Jean White
Ever since candidates began emerging late last year, the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots have been busy scheduling debates and town hall meetings for the public.
In the last several months, the local tea party has booked Tisha Casida, an Independent candidate for the Third Congressional District of Colorado; Ron Roesener, a Republican candidate for Colorado House District 57; and all five candidates vying for Moffat County Commission District 1 and 2 seats.
Each of those events were well attended, drawing audiences of 40 to 50 people.
The most recent installment took place Saturday afternoon at The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave., with a visit from Colorado District 8 State Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden.
Eight people attended the event.
White, however, seized the opportunity to step out from behind the podium to discuss the economy, state issues and her voting record in a more casual, relaxed atmosphere.
White talked with those in attendance for more than an hour.
Local tea party members had the 2011 Colorado Legislative Scorecard that graded White’s voting record on tax issues as an F. The state senator was asked to defend her alliances with state Democrats in raising taxes during a recession.
“Don’t just label me,” White said. “Give me an example and I’ll tell you exactly why I voted in favor of a bill or against it.”
White was handed a copy of the scorecard.
“If you’re going to place a label on somebody, you better do your homework and know what that bill was and what it meant because a lot of those (bills in the report) really don’t have anything to do with taxes,” she said. “In this state, we can’t raise taxes without a vote of the citizens.”
White defended her comments by pointing to her 100-percent bill passage rate.
Those bills, including the creation of federal mineral lease districts and revisions to wild horse management, for example, directly benefit the residents of SD 8, White said.
“My vote down there is for Northwest Colorado,” White said. “My opponent (current Colorado House District 57 Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs) voted for the State Implementation Plan of HB 10-1365, which is forcing our power plants to put out $400 million apiece to retrofit.
“He voted for that and I voted against it. Where’s that in (the report)?”
On Sunday, Baumgardner defended his vote in favor of the SIP plan.
“At the time, we felt it would be better to get out in front of (the new haze regulations) because the federal government can always come back and tell us our regulations aren’t strong enough,” Baumgardner said. “Hindsight is always 20/20 and unfortunately we weren’t able to act fast enough.”
On Friday night, both White and Baumgardner were in Craig to attend a healthcare roundtable coordinated by the Craig Chamber of Commerce.
The roundtable featured a panel of three speakers, including Dan Anglin, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Employers Health Alliance; Gretchen Hammer, chief executive officer of the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved and board chair of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange; and Lorez Meinhold, policy director of the Office of Policy and Research for Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The purpose of the roundtable was to educate Craig business owners on Senate Bill 11-200, which was passed last year to create the COHBE Board.
The COHBE Board has been tasked with investigating ways to make the health insurance market in Colorado more competitive in an era where business owners are finding it increasingly difficult to provide health benefits to employees.
White expressed the need to drive down health insurance costs for business owners before leaving the meeting early for another appointment.
Baumgardner stayed for the entirety, but he wasn’t particularly happy about it.
“If I realized this was going to be a plug for 11-200, I wouldn’t be here,” Baumgardner said. “I didn’t vote for 11-200 because government-run health care is government-run health care regardless of whether it is at the state or federal level, and I am totally against it.”