Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton has a soft spot for Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton has a soft spot for Craig

Fourth-generation Coloradan and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and his wife, Jenna, live in Arapahoe County with their three children, Craig, Colette, and Olivia.

CRAIG — Walker Stapleton, Republican candidate for Colorado governor, has a special place in his heart for Moffat County. Coincidentally, one of his three children is named Craig, and he believes his policies will provide a better future for both Craigs — his son and the town — as well as for Colorado.

Stapleton is serving his second term as Colorado state treasurer, a position he's held since 2010. In a race that has been hotly contested, Stapleton has focused on nine issues: health care, sanctuary cities, the Public Employees Retirement Association, education, energy and land, transportation, the Second Amendment, jobs, and water.

"I think this is going to be an election about jobs, and specifically, about jobs in Craig and Moffat County," Stapleton said during a 20-minute telephone interview. He added that Democratic opponent Jared Polis's "radical" plan to transition Colorado to 100-percent renewable energy by 2040 is extreme.

"My opponent would crush and decimate the remaining coal jobs in Craig," he said. "I'm the only candidate that believes in an all-of-the-above approach,” an approach that includes clean coal.

"My opponent only believes in renewables. … By 2040, he'll be long gone, and other people will be paying the bill. … I believe we can have all the values — first and foremost, a safe industry, streams to fish in, mountains to hike in —  while also having a transparent, responsible energy industry," Stapleton said.

He believes Colorado deserves an economy that "puts rural Colorado first" by including rural areas on the lists given to businesses looking to relocate, to fully fund broadband, and to keep Opportunity Zones — half of which are located in rural Colorado — "in the tax plan," something he said Polis would eliminate if elected.

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Colorado's treasurer is "a big fan of numbers," because they are able to "illuminate problems, and they are hard to politicize," he said.

He's crunched the numbers to figure out a plan for "putting forth a dedicated source of revenue for infrastructure," he said.

That plan, outlined at stapletonforcolorado.com, calls for improved transparency and accountability at the Colorado Department of Transportation to prioritize building roads and bridges and to use existing funding mechanisms to cut administrative costs, finance bonds, and "fill the transportation funding gap," according to the plan.

Greater transparency and accountability are consistent themes, as Stapleton supports "opening up the books on government.” He has also called for a higher degree of transparency in K-12 education.

"I believe in transparency and accountability so that all of us can understand why more dollars are not hitting the classroom," he said.

With regard to changing the way Colorado funds education, Stapleton has come out against Amendment 73 — a proposal to create a tiered state income tax system with higher taxes for the wealthiest households and C-corporations to provide additional funding to Colorado schools — because he doesn't think the numbers add up.

"Colorado Department of Education data shows that, from 2011 to 2017, student population grew by 6 percent; the number of teachers grew by 8 percent, and the number of administrators grew by 35 percent," he said.

If elected governor, Stapleton said, he would incentivize school districts to cut administration costs to "make sure our education dollars reach the classroom and teachers," he said.

Stapleton also has a plan to reduce the high cost of health insurance and health care and has said Coloradans should not pay more for those items than they pay in rent or mortgage.

"We have a moral obligation to make Medicaid sustainable in Colorado," he said. Of Polis's single-payer health care plan, Stapleton said he believes "his (Polis’s) health care plan will bankrupt Colorado."

The father of three has visited Moffat County a number of times during his tenure as state treasurer, including trips to speak at the Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner in 2012 and to visit Trapper Mine in 2014.

If elected governor, Stapleton said he "absolutely" would return to Northwest Colorado. "I think it is incredibly important," he said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

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Stapleton for Colorado stapletonforcolorado.com.