It’s been more than 50 years since a Moffat County resident was elected to state office and on Thursday Jo Ann Baxter asked her community for its support in her bid for Colorado House District 57.
Baxter, a Craig Democrat, is running for HD57 against Carbondale Republican Bob Rankin.
During closing statements Thursday night at the latest Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots candidate forum, Baxter said she recognized voting for a Democrat would be a tough decision for a lot of hometown voters, but pledged to build off her experience as an educator and as a Moffat County School Board member to foster relationships in the state legislature.
“I hope that you will think about sending a Democrat from Moffat County to Denver to represent you,” she said. “I know for a lot of you that is going to be a hard decision, but Dave (DeRose) talked about relationships and I’ve lived in this county for 38 years, was a teacher for 29 years and served on your school board for eight years.
“I want your vote, I will respect your vote and I will work across the aisle to represent you.”
Baxter was the only candidate for state office at the forum, which also included Republican county commission candidates DeRose, District 1, and Chuck Grobe, District 2; American Constitution Party candidate Rick Barnes, District 2; and unaffiliated candidate John Kinkaid, District 1.
Unlike previous candidate forums hosted by the Bears Ears Patriots to date, the questions did not come from a panel, but from the more than 50 local voters in attendance.
One of the first questions was posed to Grobe about how he would address the federal government’s war on coal if elected to the county commission.
Grobe is currently employed as a substation supervisor at Tri-State Generation & Transmission.
“At Tri-State we’re in the middle of the fight to hold the government accountable,” he said. “For example, if this (Mercury Air Toxics Standard) ruling holds up the Nucla power plant down in Montrose County will have to close.
“That was a project that was designed to show how clean coal could burn in a fluidized vent situation and now because of the research they did, it’s cutting their own throat.”
John Kinkaid, who also works at Tri-State as a control room operator, fielded a similar question about how to address energy regulations at the state level.
“I think some of it is intentional, I think that’s the game plan for a lot of people,” he said. “We are the Saudi Arabia of coal and we have enough oil and gas to be self-sufficient. Why would you want to send your money to the Middle East when we have energy right here in Moffat County that could boost the economy and create domestic jobs?”
But with the I need it now mentality of today’s culture, Barnes was asked what he would do to protect Moffat County’s natural resources for the next 50 to 100 years.
“We approach everything as a nation looking at the short-term outcome,” he said. “You have to look ahead.
“Let’s take the beetle kill for example. When they deregulated logging it kept the loggers out of the forest. If they would have allowed it, the loggers could have removed those sick trees and we’d still have a forest that’s healthy and green.”
The vetting later switched to broadband and with EagleNet coming under increased scrutinization from Congressional legislators, DeRose was asked how he would bring redundant fiber optic cables to northwest Colorado.
“I don’t think we want to bail out another company,” DeRose said. “I think it’s been proven by our national government, I think it’s been proven by our county government, I think it’s been proven by every government that when you bail out a company they’re pretty much going to fail anyway.
“I do think, however, we have the ability as a county to take a long hard look at how we create this redundant loop, and I don’t think EagleNet is the only company that can do it.”
The candidates will be vetted again next Thursday during a candidate debate at J.W. Snacks.
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.