Residents trade dialogue with state, congressional candidates |

Residents trade dialogue with state, congressional candidates

Hopefuls attend informal forum Sunday in Craig

Brian Smith

Residents had the opportunity to meet with state and congressional candidates during an informal forum Sunday at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Craig.

More than 30 residents attend­ed the event, hosted by John and Corrie Ponikvar, and were able to speak with the candidates or their representatives and ask questions. Candidates also were given the chance to speak to the audience.

Moffat County chief deputy clerk and elections supervisor Lila Herod, who attended the event, said it's important for local candidates to visit rural areas such as Moffat County because "our votes count just as much."

"I think it was really exciting that many state candidates would come through the northwest area," she said. "You don't often get to meet all the candidates running for a primary. I was really impressed with some of the (candidates) that came out and spoke and some … gave me cause to really think and want to get to know a little bit more about them and their agenda."

State Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and Bob McConnell, of Steamboat Springs, attended the event to speak about their candidacies for the Third Congressional District. Both are running against incumbent Democrat John Sala­zar, who has held the office since 2004.

Tipton ran against Salazar in 2006 for the same office. This is McConnell's first time seeking public office.

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Tipton spoke about his desire to cut government spending, stimulate investment and create jobs to get the Colorado and federal budget "back on track" He also mentioned the importance of speaking with residents one-on-one.

"Salazar won't speak to the people," he said. "This is where we get the best ideas. Craig is as important as any other city."

McConnell said he was concerned about how government is operating and his concern that "individual rights are going to disappear."

He also stressed the need for individuals to not be "slaves to the government for their daily bread."

Dan Maes, a Colorado republican gubernatorial candidate, spoke to candidates about his background and issues such as energy development and coal.

"The democrats think the world revolves around Denver," he said. "I understand rural life and rural needs."

Lori McInnis, wife of Scott McInnis, republican candidate for governor, spoke about her husband's experience as the reason he would make a good candidate. She also said her husband would bring "common sense and rural knowledge to Denver."

The three republican candidates for state treasurer, J.J. Ament, Ali Hasan and Walker Stapleton, attended the event.

Ament spoke of his appreciation and understanding of rural Colorado, background in public finance, and specific issues he wants to address if elected.

"The government should take a lesson from rural Colorado," he said. "They're spendthrift, work hard and everyone helps each other out."

Hasan gave a presentation in which he contended Colorado should be putting its funding into "Colorado winners, not Washington losers." He also said that his experience as a small business owner is what the treasurer's office needs.

Stapleton talked about his background as a chief investment, financial and executive officer and work in the private sector. He also discussed specific issues such as the state deficit and tax dollars he would address if elected.

U.S. Senate candidate Tom Wiens, who will be running against incumbent Michael Ben­net, also spoke about the importance of the 2010 election and what changes he would make.

"The government is hiding in 2,900-page bills," he said. "We're giving bailouts at the top and handouts at the bottom and the rest of us in the middle are footing the bill. It's time to put limits on budget spending and special interest control."

Andrew Colgan spoke for U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton who "has the character to do what she promises," he said.

Noelle Tarabulski spoke for U.S. Senate candidate Cleve Tidwell. Tarabulski talked about why she is representing Tidwell and how well Tidwell understands the issues facing rural communities like Craig.

Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-

Hot Sulphur Springs, who is running for re-election in House District 57 but is unopposed, talked about his day-to-day life at the state capitol and how he is standing up for rural issues such as coal, oil and natural gas.

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