Jo Ann Baxter, a Democrat running for Colorado House District 57, addresses local voters during a Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots meeting Thursday at The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave. Given her 29-year career as a Moffat County High School  teacher, residents were eager to hear what Baxter would do to improve education, if elected.

Photo by Joe Moylan

Jo Ann Baxter, a Democrat running for Colorado House District 57, addresses local voters during a Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots meeting Thursday at The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave. Given her 29-year career as a Moffat County High School teacher, residents were eager to hear what Baxter would do to improve education, if elected.

Newcomers in HD57, SD8 participate in Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots forum

Video

Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots May 3 Meeting

State candidates discuss issues with Bears Ears Patriots.

State candidates discuss issues with Bears Ears Patriots.

Quotable

“I’ve supported the Department of Education, but I haven’t always agreed with the Department of Education. Although it did bring public school education to the forefront in our country, No Child Left Behind is false. I’m the first one to admit that.”

— Jo Ann Baxter, a Craig resident and Democratic candidate for Colorado House District 57

As a 29-year educator and past Moffat County School Board president, one might expect Jo Ann Baxter to side with U.S. Department of Education policies.

But when asked Thursday what the federal government’s role should be in the education of Moffat County students, Baxter delivered an unexpected answer.

“I’ve supported the Department of Education, but I haven’t always agreed with the Department of Education,” Baxter said. “Although it did bring public school education to the forefront in our country, No Child Left Behind is false. I’m the first one to admit that.”

Baxter, a Democrat in the race for Colorado House District 57, taught for 29 years in the social studies department at Moffat County High School.

Upon retirement, Baxter ran for Moffat County School Board and served two terms, including one as president.

For six of those eight years she represented Moffat County on the legislative committee of the Colorado Association of School Boards.

On Thursday, Baxter, and Sacha Weis, a Libertarian candidate vying for Colorado Senate District 8, appeared before 20 local voters during a Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots meeting at The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave.

Considering her background, it was no surprise local residents wanted to know what Baxter would do to improve education in HD57, if elected.

“Moffat County receives less money per student than any other district in the state,” Baxter said. “As a candidate running for state office, I don’t think there is a lot I am going to be able to do about federal policies, but I think a lot of the federal government’s (priority) has been focused in the larger cities, so I don’t think they have a huge role here.

“Having been in Moffat County education all my life I do think we have a good staff that does an excellent job of educating the children that want to learn.”

While voters focused on education in their vetting of Baxter, Weis was pressed on social issues like illegal immigration and Colorado’s marijuana legislation.

In her research on the Libertarian Party’s website, www.lp.org, Weis told the audience nearly half of all police work is spent on drug investigations.

Weis believes more of that time should be spent investigating violent criminals, and she compared the war on drugs to the ban on alcohol under the Volstead Act.

“Our system is bad,” Weis said. “When we ended Prohibition back in the 30s…20s, things got better. Prohibition turned everyday people into criminals.

“I don’t have to agree with what Joe Bob next door does because truly I don’t. But if this guy over here isn’t hurting anybody, then who am I to tell him what he can and can’t do?”

Local resident Lynne Herring said marijuana is a danger to the community and the increase in medicinal users has made it difficult to determine how many people are high in the community on any given day, particularly when driving.

“I’m much more concerned about a person driving drunk than the person driving stoned,” Weis said. “Alcohol is a legal substance and easy to buy.

“If pot were legal, it would still be illegal to drive on it and it would still be illegal to steal from people to buy it, but there would be less crime if people were free to use it in the privacy of their own homes.”

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