Wilhelm, Rankin agree on some but not all matters
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — During a recent candidate forum in Glenwood Springs, Democrat Colin Wilhelm and Republican state Rep. Bob Rankin — who will face off Nov. 7 for the District 57 seat in the Colorado House of Representatives — agree the state needs to get rid of the Gallagher Amendment, lower health insurance costs, and increase teacher pay on the Western Slope, but the candidates strongly disagree on one issue facing voters this fall — Proposition 112.
Voters are being asked whether the setback for oil and gas operations should be pushed to 2,500 feet throughout the state. Wilhelm and Rankin made it clear they will be voting differently in November.
“(Proposition 112) is a health and safety measure first and foremost …” Wilhelm said. “I’m looking out for the people. If you live within 152 meters of an oil well or natural gas well, you are about 10 percent more likely to develop cancer throughout your life than if you live farther away, and it’s a step-down effect. The farther away you go, the less chance you have of developing cancer.”
Rankin, on the other hand, said the bill would devastate the oil and gas industry in Colorado.
“I feel that we will transition from fossil fuels eventually, but no matter how fervently I feel about that, it’s my job to represent the jobs and economy of my district,” he said.
He added that Amendment 74 — which seeks to allow for greater compensation from governments to private property owner rights when property values are decreased by government action — may not be right for Colorado due to the lawsuits it could open the state up to.
On this point, the candidates agreed.
“It will hamstring local government,” Wilhelm said of Amendment 74.
Both candidates advocated strongly for dismantling the Gallagher Amendment. Wilhelm said he believes the only way to fix the situation is to introduce a constitutional amendment to remove Gallagher and TABOR.
“I’m the leader of getting rid of Gallagher, a leader on health care costs, a leader on education vision, and I’ve always been an advocate for equal opportunity for rural kids,” Rankin said during his closing statement, also touting his experience and leadership positions in the state legislature.
Rankin added the state’s improving revenue picture “gives us room to do some things” on education, transportation, and other issues.
“I want to help our developmentally disabled and provide more child welfare funding, because we’re not doing enough in those areas,” he said.
Wilhelm said he would work for a universal health care system and said he wants to be pragmatic in finding new solutions for Colorado.
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