Election: It’s about the issues
BRECKENRIDGE – Ron Forthofer is making a stand against the entrenched power of incumbency and money in his fight to secure the governorship from Bill Owens in November.
The Green Party candidate will speak today at the Old Town Hall, at 300 Main St. in Frisco . He joins Green Party candidate for county commissioner Justin McCarthy.
Forthofer, who lives near Longmont, said he decided to run in June when he heard the platforms of Owens and Democratic candidate Rollie Heath.
“I didn’t see anyone standing up for the people,” Forthofer said. “I didn’t see anyone raising the real important issues facing us each and every day. Somebody’s got to do it. If we value our democracy, the campaigns have to be about issues, not who has the most money. What’s democracy about, if not about issues?”
Forthofer, a retired professor from the University of Texas and an 11-year Colorado resident, has been an activist for peace and social justice through his work with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and Christian Peacemaker Teams, among others.
While he has opinions about the usual concerns – water, transportation, education and growth – his primary platform is on social issues, including health insurance and removing the power of money and influence from the ballot box.
If Jesse Ventura did it, he said, perhaps he can, too.
“Health care is a natural for me,” Forthofer said. “I want there to be affordable and comprehensive health care for everyone in Colorado – health care without insurance companies.”
If elected in November, Forthofer hopes to revamp the health system, first by educating people about the problems and then by eliminating the middle men – HMOs and insurance companies. The end result, he said, would be “private health care with public insurance” paid for by a separate fund.
“We’ve just applied Band-Aids and made incremental changes in the past 30 years,” Forthofer said. “And the situation’s gotten far worse. We need fundamental change. Fifteen to 20 percent of the money in the health care system is siphoned off by the middle man.”
Forthofer also wants to get “big money” out of politics.
“The system is totally corrupted by money – the Enrons, the WorldComs – they’re totally killing us,” he said. “We need to return our government to the people. We want a government of, by and for the people, instead of of, by and for the corporations and the wealthy.”
He’d like to see voluntary public financing of campaigns, similar to tax form checkoffs. Candidates who agree to spending limits – he proposes $500 per individual contribution – could tap into those funds to beef up their war chests against those who choose not to abide by the limitations.
“People are sick and tired of having money determine the outcome of our elections,” he said. “We want to show you can run a strong campaign without having to sell your soul. A campaign should be run on ideas and issues.”
Other issues he’d like to address include encouraging renewable energy – wind and solar – and energy and water conservation.
He’s not pleased Owens called a special session of the legislature this week to address drought issues.
“If the legislature was serious about water use, they would not wait until a drought to legislate,” Forthofer said. “It’s a bad approach. The idea to build these reservoirs is great when t here’s water coming into them.”
Nor is he impressed with Owens’ transportation solutions.
“We cannot build enough lanes to meet the traffic demands,” he said. “We need mass transit to get people out of their cars. Denver has a good start, but instead of doing T-Rex, we need more funding into maintaining heavy rail. It exists – let’s take advantage of the lines already in place.”
That might not be feasible for public transit from the metro area to the High Country; Forthofer said he doesn’t have a strong opinion about how to accomplish that.
On the green front, Forthofer would like to implement a system to fine environmental polluters and use those funds to replace some taxes.
“Polluters are hurting our health, our food, tourism, the fishing industry,” he said. “They should be fined and we can then reduce taxes on sales – or work. We want people to work, so why are we taxing them for it?”
He said he knows he’s up against a formidable candidate.
“But if people support the positions, and have the courage to vote their hope and not their fears, perhaps Jesse Ventura’s experience could be repeatable,” he said. “Then we have a shot.”
He noted that a third of Colorado voters are registered as Independents.
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