Candidates bid for support of Craig voters |

Candidates bid for support of Craig voters

Joe Moylan

For the first time since the Feb. 7 Moffat County Commission candidate debates, two candidates vying for the same office arrived in Craig to discuss issues.

Bob Rankin and Ron Roesener, Republican candidates in the race for Colorado House District 57, were hosted by the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots on Thursday at The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave.

It was the first time Craig and Moffat County voters were able to address the candidates at the same time.

The event drew more than 30 residents.

Rob Whitehead, Sue Mikesell and Dave Haskins moderated the debate.

They began by asking candidates their positions on common Bears Ears concerns, including Agenda 21, Obamacare, illegal immigration, and the Second Amendment.

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"The Second Amendment gives me the right to sit every night in my house, with my front door unlocked, and if somebody comes in without knocking I'm going to exercise my Second Amendment, I don't care who it is," Roesener said. "I believe in no knock policy, I believe in my right to carry a weapon, and I believe in the rights of the militia."

Rankin also believes in the right to bear arms.

He told the audience he's a National Rifle Association member and joked his campaign manager, wife Joyce, was "carrying."

After approximately 45 minutes, questions were opened up to the floor.

Citing the Bureau of Land Management Little Snake Field Office's recent release of its Record of Decision and negotiations by the U.S. Department of the Interior to purchase a ranch in the vicinity of Cross Mountain — a Wilderness Study Area — a local resident asked the candidates to state their position on public lands and whether they favor the federal acquisition of private lands.

"The original intent was that (federal lands) would one day revert to the states," Rankin said. "Wilderness, in my mind, restricts access to a select group of people and I flat don't believe in it. We need more people getting outside, it's good for your soul."

Roesener agreed.

An avid fly-fisherman and a former ski instructor, Roesener said not only are there enough Wilderness Study Areas, but argued those lands should be turned over to the states because departments like the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service don't have the staff to manage public lands efficiently.

Before the conclusion of the debate, the candidates were asked why voters should send them to Denver to be their representatives.

For Roesener, an efficient and effective representative is all about enthusiasm for the people and the area he aims to serve.

"I am passionate about these three counties (Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield) and the ranching heritage in this region," Roesener said. "We also need to deregulate businesses. We're regulating small businesses to death and it's killing the state."

Rankin said a public servant must be measured on life experiences and have a willingness to serve.

"For me, it's all about life experiences," Rankin said. "I'm comfortable working with energy, ranchers, the mines and private industry.

"Joyce and I have been campaigning really hard for the last three years in rural Colorado, listening to the needs of our constituents, and we're not doing that because we want to win. We're going to win because we want to do that."

Baumgardner responds to opponent's criticism

State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R–Hot Sulphur Springs, visited the tea party Saturday.

Baumgardner currently represents Colorado House District 57, but announced his candidacy for Colorado Senate District 8 following the redrawing of district lines earlier this year.

His opponent, incumbent State Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden, visited Craig a week earlier and criticized Baumgardner for voting in favor of the State Implementation Plan.

The SIP puts House Bill 10-1365, the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act, into practice.

HB 10-1365 has been criticized in the region because it outlines plans to convert a number of Front Range power plants from coal fired to natural gas by 2018.

Baumgardner defended his vote to constituents Saturday.

"Someone in this room, and I'm not going to say who or even point him out, said he received a phone call from my opponent who said Randy Baumgardner voted for 1365 putting natural gas over coal and that's a lie," Baumgardner said. "I did vote for the SIP because a number of us thought at the time it would be better to get out in front of it before the federal government came in and made us change all of the new regulations.

"I take responsibility for that vote as a bad one."

Baumgardner then fired back, questioning White's platform that includes reducing the size of government.

"I've never, through the course of a campaign, spoke ill of my opponent," Baumgardner said. "I don't believe in it, but your voting record is your voting record.

"My opponent not only voted in favor of Senate Bill 12-130, she co-sponsored it."

SB 12-130, Baumgardner said, provides government oversight on how parents care for their children from the womb until 8 years old.

In addition, SB 12-130 sets up a separate government agency to provide oversight on parents.

"My opponent has touted this bill as a job creator," Baumgardner said. "This doesn't promote job growth in the private sector, it increases government jobs and the size of the government."

Baumgardner then informed the audience of a bill he has written that he believes could be a boost to the economy in Northwest Colorado.

HB 12-1160 proposes capturing methane gas produced by coal mines and converting it into electricity. In addition to creating jobs, Baumgardner said it would add another item to the state's alternative energy portfolio.

Since the campaign season began, Baumgardner said White has been vocal about her 100-percent bill passage rate since replacing her husband, Al, in 2010.

But before the conclusion of the meeting, Baumgardner asked Craig voters to consider his ability to win elections when casting their votes during the June primary.

"Maybe you liked what I had to say or maybe you didn't like all of what I had to say, but I've proven myself for four years for you," Baumgardner said. "I've won three elections, one primary and two general elections."

Next on the Bears Ears agenda is the April 17 Freedom Rally, which begins at 5 p.m. on the Moffat County Courthouse lawn, 221 W. Victory Way.

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“The Second Amendment gives me the right to sit every night in my house, with my front door unlocked, and if somebody comes in without knocking, I’m going to exercise my Second Amendment, I don’t care who it is. I believe in no knock policy, I believe in my right to carry a weapon, and I believe in the rights of the militia.”

— Ron Roesener, Republican candidate for Colorado House District 57

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