State representative candidates discuss priorities
White says he wants to address watershed issue
Census 2000 has pitted Al White former dump-truck driver, hard-rock miner, ski lodge owner and current state representative for House District 56 against Craig’s Terry Carwile in race for the newly formed 57th House District.
Coming off his first session in the House, the Republican has campaigned hard on his know-how of getting things done in Denver, and unfinished business for the redistricted area covering Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Grand, Jackson, and Garfield counties west of Rifle.
“It’s important to be able to put together coalitions that enable you to be effective and to have committees that give you leverage,” White said.
White is connected at the capital, as vice chairman of the business affairs and labor committee, a seat on the House education committee and the water legislative review committee, the legislative audit committee, and the House appointee to the Colorado tourism office board.
White, born in rural southern Illinois, came to Colorado in the early 1970s after spending the Vietnam War stationed in Germany while in the Army.
“I fought the battle of Oktoberfest,” White quipped at last month’s candidate forum in Maybell.
If re-elected, one fight he said he’ll take to Denver will be “watershed yield enhancement.”
Translation: To combat water worries and fire, White said he wants to carry a bill requiring that all state lands be managed toward a concept based around thinning, or patch-cutting, dense forests.
“We can enhance the water yield and reduce the dense canopy and the root system, which enables more water to end up in the system,” White said.
White said “several hundred thousand” acre feet more water would be available each year “by not having as many trees sucking it up.”
“It will serve as a fire suppression model for the feds when they come in with their properties for fire suppression,” he added.
Work toward that, on top of other measures, should take priority before ambitious dam construction, he argued.
“Let’s repair the dams that are on restriction, enlarge those that can be, and dredge where we can dredge,” said White, also arguing for the eradication of various non-indigenous weeds along Colorado water sources.
As lawmakers weigh slashing even more state programs and departments, White insists there’s little fat left.
“There could be some projects that we could sideline even though they may be in the engineering phase, which could save a few million dollars,” White said. “I think we’ve combed through the budget fairly reasonably and should try to make it an equitable across-the-board cut.”
White suggested cuts affecting various Northwest Colorado interests won’t be restored.
“I hear from all sorts of people wanting their own special programs, and every program is special with people that need that money,” he said. “It’s not fair to pick and choose which programs are more important than others.”
White is perhaps best known for co-sponsorship of Colorado’s no-call legislation for telemarketers, to which he’s pledged next session to add cellular phones. He also pushed an amendment to Colorado’s school finance act enabling some local school districts to make up cost-of-living disparities.
White, describing himself as pro-life on abortion, said he supports legal reform that would speed up executions, “if it could be done in a way that guaranteed legal rights.”
White cited the two suspects in custody suspected in the East Coast sniper murders.
“This time next year, those guys ought to be dead there will be more of a deterrent,” he said.
Both White and Carwile have similar thoughts on chronic wasting disease: Wait and see.
“We’re gathering some good information that will help us identify where the hot spots may be,” he said. “We can work toward thinning the population in those areas to slow the spread.”
White also said he supports more money for research on live testing for game.
The candidate has pledged to put more funding into the state’s tourism office; increasing its budget from $5.5 million annually to $18 million.
This, he said, would be funded through cutting vendor fees that the state allows sales tax collectors to keep; from three and one-thirds percent to two and one-third.
White, when asked of Gov. Bill Owens’ “all of Colorado is on fire” summer comments repeated nationwide, said the statement’s effect on tourism is hard to quantify.
“It’s difficult to suggest that the governor’s comments drove people away.”
Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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