Editor's note: Republican candidate Randy Baumgardner did not submit a Q&A.
I want to be a strong voice for the rural communities of Senate District 8. Because of one-man, one-vote, the Colorado Legislature is a very urban and suburban legislature dominated by Front Range interests. The very best Western Slope legislators in our history have been those who have worked across party lines to build coalitions of legislators to get bills passed that meet our critical rural Colorado needs. The senator who is elected to represent northwest Colorado must be the one who will address the needs of our families and communities, not the one who follows the bidding of partisan masters in Denver.
I've lived in rural Colorado 35 years and in Summit County nearly eight years, and have worked in public policy for decades. I served eight years on the city council of Caon City, and have served for more than 12 years on land use planning commissions in two jurisdictions, including more than six years on the Summit Countywide Planning Commission. I served five years on the board of a rural economic development agency, which operated a business incubator and brought the largest federal prison complex to Colorado. I was appointed by Gov. Romer to the original Great Outdoors Colorado committee which developed the framework for dedicated funding for parks, trails, open space, rivers and wildlife. Since then more than $5 million in GOCO funds have been awarded to Summit County for important projects. In addition, my decades of work experience in the private and public sector, including working with the business community and in the courts in northwest Colorado, make me uniquely qualified to serve as senator.
Forest health is one of the highest priorities because of the continuing danger of extreme fire in our aging, drought- and beetle-impacted lodgepole forests. We've seen a growing number of smaller fires, quickly controlled through the fine work of area firefighters and other emergency personnel. But we cannot count on always being lucky in controlling every fire before major damage is done. Our Forest Health Task Force and others have worked to mitigate potential fire dangers. As senator, I will fight to keep fire mitigation and forest restoration funding in the budget. In the 2012 legislative session, my opponent voted against the bill - now law - that extended funding for forest restoration another five years. This is not acceptable for such a high- priority need in Summit County.
I have a long history of working with people of all political persuasions to achieve common solutions in rural Colorado. In fact, I work across the partisan divide every day at home - my husband Del Bush is a Republican, and we strive to share our common interest in public policy and politics in a positive way. Voters want an end to the partisan bickering in the Legislature that gets in the way of common sense problem- solving. It was offensive to see Republican leadership and my opponent filibuster at the end of our legislative session, blocking a bill they knew would pass if allowed to come to a vote. Not only was majority rule blocked by a minority, but approximately 30 other bills were blocked from final votes, resulting in a costly special session to pass some key Western Slope bills, including funding for water projects. If elected, I will use my mediation and conflict- resolution skills to get work done.
We learned in early October of another significant economic development success along Colorado's Front Range, with a technology company bringing "hundreds of jobs" to Douglas County. This illustrates precisely the problem we have in northwest Colorado - the state's economic development efforts exclude rural Colorado. Perhaps the powers that be in Denver believe in a "trickle over the Continental Divide" theory of economic growth. I don't. Many smaller communities do not know how to create a custom-designed approach to economic development - growing the businesses they have, and attracting businesses that are a good fit for them. While powerful interests cheer their successes on the Front Range, we should insist that state agencies change their approach in working with our rural communities so we can see the same successes on a scale that matches our needs.