Election 2016 — Colorado Senate District 8 heats up
With Colorado Republicans holding onto a majority by just one seat, the results of this year’s senatorial elections has the potential to shift the balance of power in the Colorado General Assembly.
In District 8, it’s a familiar matchup as Democrat Emily Tracy returns to run against incumbent Republican Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who defeated Tracy in 2012 with 51.1 percent of the vote.
Tracy received 44.3 percent of the vote in 2012 and Libertarian candidate Sacha Weis logged 4.6 percent.
“Given the fact that there was that third candidate in the race, it was a fairly close race,” Tracy said.
The two candidates are working hard to win over voters throughout the Western Slope.
Baumgardner said he has fought for rural Colorado while in office and losing to the Democrats would mean more regulations and fees for the eight counties — Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Eagle, Grand and Summit — that encompass District 8.
“If we lose the senate you can expect more gun regulations… you’ll see fee increases, you’ll see increasing renewable [energy] requests,” he said.
Tracy began serving in local government with two four-year terms on the Cañon City Council and said she quickly learned that it required a balance between understanding what constituents want and moving the community forward.
“I learned fairly quickly that being an elected official means you’re both a leader and a follower,” she said.
She said some of the challenges facing Northwest Colorado include preserving public lands and water resources, promoting affordable housing, creating broadband infrastructure for rural communities and addressing rising healthcare costs.
Speaking to the relationship between the Front Range and Western Slope, Tracy said representatives of rural communities have a responsibility to promote rural issues.
“Rural legislators and rural community leaders have to continue to work to help city dwellers and Front Range folk understand that the economic health of all of Colorado is really important,” she said.
Baumgardner said while in office he has protected property and water rights, supported the coal industry while working with alternative energy sources and cut waste from government spending.
He also noted the rift between rural legislators and their urban counterparts.
“It seems that Denver wants to put us out of business up here,” he said.
A topic that consistently comes up with Baumgardner is the I-70 Traction Bill, would require motorists to have the appropriate tires or traction equipment between mile markers 133 and 259 whenever there are snowy or icy conditions. Current statute requires the Colorado Department of Transportation to trigger a code before drivers on I-70 are required to have the appropriate gear.
Tracy said the traction bill has seen overwhelming support and she doesn’t agree with or understand Baumgardner’s opposition.
“For reasons that I’ve never heard explained well, Senator Baumgardner voted to kill that,” she said.
Baumgardner said he opposed the bill while on the Transportation Legislative Review Committee because it is redundant.
“The traction bill is already in statute,” he said. “The bill that was proposed changed nothing.”
Tracy also criticized Baumgardner’s sponsorship of a bill that would facilitate a study on how a state or private entity might assume control of federal lands.
“That’s just contrary to what folks in Senate District 8 want to see,” she said.
Baumgardner said he believes in managing lands for multiple uses but development of natural resources was a big difference between himself and his opponent, who he said is backed by environmental groups that exclusively support clean energy.
“I’m in favor of the safe exploration and development of our natural resources,” Baumgardner said.
Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.
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