Photo by Joe Moylan

Craig candidate takes stage in first debate for HD57

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HD57 Debate

Quotable

“Bob and I don’t have any huge disagreements about the issues. I kind of agree with a Republican friend of mine in Moffat County who said it’s not so much that we have a huge divergence about the issues, it’s how we want to approach getting solutions.”

Jo Ann Baxter, Craig Democrat running for Colorado House District 57, about her opponent, Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale.

— It’s uncommon to find two candidates from rival parties who agree on a majority of the issues.

It’s also surprising that during a debate featuring two Northwest Colorado residents, not one question was posed about energy.

But that’s how it worked out Saturday at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction as Jo Ann Baxter, D-Craig, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, squared off in their first public debate for the office of Colorado House District 57.

And it was one of the more pleasant exchanges out of an entire day of debates hosted by Club 20. Baxter and Rankin’s mutual respect for one another seemed to outshine the issues.

“I thought we were respectful of each other and got our points across, but I also don’t think we hit any major game-changing issues,” Rankin said after the debate. “We’ve been to fairs together and have had a lot of good conversations. She’s obviously smart, obviously committed and she’s done a lot of good work.”

Baxter agreed with her opponent that they didn’t touch on the big issues facing HD57 and said their major differences lie beyond simply identifying the various problems facing the state.

“Bob and I don’t have any huge disagreements about the issues,” Baxter said. “I kind of agree with a Republican friend of mine in Moffat County who said it’s not so much that we have a huge divergence about the issues, it’s how we want to approach getting solutions.”

Although Baxter and Rankin expressed similar viewpoints opposing unfunded mandates and the need for tax reform, they did touch on the one issue in which they are fundamentally divided — education.

During the cross-examination portion of the debate — where the candidates were given three minutes to pose questions of their choosing — Baxter asked Rankin where he stood on teacher accountability and the idea of Colorado implementing a private school voucher system.

“I support voucher systems and I support private schools. There are wonderful examples throughout the country, Louisiana being a good one, where vouchers systems are being put in place and are working,” Rankin said. “Competition is good for every aspect of our lives.”

Rankin switched gears to the economy and asked Baxter what one regulation she would change at the state Capitol to help spur job growth.

“So far I haven’t received a real good answer and maybe that’s because the people I have been speaking with primarily operate retail businesses,” Baxter said. “They’re biggest concern is providing health insurance for their employees and that’s something I think I can help address in the state Legislature.”

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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