Randy Baumgardner, left, R-Cowdrey, and Breckenridge Democrat Emily Tracy engaged in their first public debate Saturday for the office of Colorado Senate District 8. The debate was hosted by Club 20 and held at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

Photo by Joe Moylan

Randy Baumgardner, left, R-Cowdrey, and Breckenridge Democrat Emily Tracy engaged in their first public debate Saturday for the office of Colorado Senate District 8. The debate was hosted by Club 20 and held at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

Baumgardner, Tracy debate issues in Grand Junction

Short format provides little contrast on issues

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SD8 Debate

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“I think we have so many good resources in the state, and we’re using and developing all of them. There isn’t one I would take off the table. We’re not going to walk away from coal, just like we’re not going to walk away from wind and solar.”

Emily Tracy, Breckenridge Democrat for Colorado Senate District 8, about her energy policy

Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, and Emily Tracy, D-Breckenridge, engaged on Saturday in their first public debate for the office of Colorado Senate District 8.

The debate was hosted by Club 20 and took place at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

Among some of the topics covered were energy and the budget.

But it was a short format, Tracy said, leaving little time to truly draw a distinct contrast between to two candidates about the issues.

“I would have talked more about public schools and healthcare, and probably a few dozen others,” Tracy said. “I’m very much a supporter of public schools and it’s very concerning we’re struggling with funding at the local and state level.

“I see quality public school education as being at the core of our form of government in this country. We need a well-educated populace to take part in this governing that we do.”

Though the candidates didn’t get the chance to voice their positions on healthcare and education, there was plenty of discussion about energy.

It’s the issue Baumgardner thinks represents the major policy difference between himself and his opponent.

“Emily believes we should be promoting the use of more renewables,” Baumgardner said. “We need a balanced energy portfolio, that’s where I’m at, but we need to rely on our conventional sources like coal, gas and oil because right now wind and solar are not capable, and not price effective, to carry the generation load that we need.”

But Tracy believes energy is one of the issues in which she and Baumgardner share similar stances.

“I think we have so many good resources in the state, and we’re using and developing all of them. There isn’t one I would take off the table,” Tracy said. “We’re not going to walk away from coal, just like we’re not going to walk away from wind and solar. It’s just doing it in a way that’s economical, and involves local people and local government in the process.”

Ensuring local residents are involved in the legislative process is one of the primary reasons Tracy jumped into the SD8 race.

Since announcing her campaign, Tracy said she’s been busy with door knocking and telephone campaigns to learn what issues are most important to SD8 residents.

“My whole focus is on the voters in the district. They care about their communities, funding for their children’s education, the environment, protecting Western Slope water and rural Colorado issues,” Tracy said. “It’s that strong representation for this part of the state that I think we haven’t had enough of and I think I could do a better job.”

Baumgardner concedes Tracy has done a lot of good work at the local level as a past city council member in Canon City and with a variety of social agencies.

But he doesn’t believe that experience compares to what he has done at the state capitol.

“As time goes on people are going to see that I’ve always been for the West Slope and I’ll continue to represent the West Slope,” Baumgardner said. “I’ve been there for four years, people know me, they know they can depend on me and I’m a fiscal conservative.

“If we want to grow government, I’m not your guy.”

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

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