Opinion | Debra Irvine: A legacy of serving Colorado’s Western Slope
Colorado Senate District 8 Republican candidate
Why am I running for Senate District 8? I would like to serve.
My family has been dedicated to service. My late father served in three wars. My mother was honored for her work with Wounded Warrior amputees. My late husband was a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and diplomat. My son is an Air Force Academy graduate and veteran.
My experience complements our district. As an 11-year active member of Club 20, I follow legislation affecting our Western Slope. As a professional ski instructor and having grown up in a ski resort, I understand and value the industry. My volunteer work as a suicide hotline counselor is valuable as we address mental health issues. I have testified for our fossil fuel industry, for gun rights and against single-payer health care, to name a few. I also served an appointment to the Judicial District Review Commission for the Fifth Judicial District.
Senate District 8 is demographically diverse, represented by Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties. There is tourism, coal mining, oil and gas industry, agriculture and ranching. I announced my candidacy in December 2018 and have been actively engaged since.
In March, I participated in Just Transition from Coal meetings in Craig and Hayden. At the Hayden roundtable discussions, I addressed my deep concerns about closing coal mining and our coal-fired power plants. I noted the only way many of my Summit County residents could have the slightest sense of the impact coal industry closure would have on Moffat and Routt counties would be if our ski industry shut down.
I stated this before the COVID-19 pandemic took effect and our ski slopes closed, forcing a surrounding negative financial impact. Now, every county is facing financial hardship and long-lasting ramifications.
Adding to the crisis, our state overspent our money by $1 billion to $2 billion before the shutdown and consequent unemployment, revenue loss, school closures, etc.
If this pandemic made anything transparent, it’s that Colorado has a spending problem. Because Colorado is required to balance its budget, the Joint Budget Committee now wants to suspend tax exemptions, suspend PERA direct deposits and decrease funding for myriad programs.
My opponent, Sen. Bob Rankin, spoke about the arduous task of addressing the budget and said, “We’ve always had extra money and argued about how to spend it.” This attitude exemplifies a spending problem and a disregard for Coloradans.
That “extra money” should have been returned to taxpayers as TABOR requires. Businesses, individuals and families affected by this shutdown could have benefited from surplus returns. Instead, according to my opponent, legislators fought over ways to spend our money.
One way Colorado can get back on track is to completely open back up and by getting back to the basics. Simply, we need to review what government is obligated to fund.
When Coloradans are faced with financial strain, and in the event of a crisis, we first look at what has to be paid. We make adjustments, and government should be expected to do the same. When government indulges in pet projects and the like, Coloradans are further burdened by being forced to pay the price with increased taxes, suspension of tax exemptions, etc. Burdens hinder our ability to be charitable. Since my husband’s death, I have presented four personal scholarships to Summit High School students.
We are better able to promote a free market, economic opportunity/development, entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency by removing government’s heavy hand of burdening regulations and taxation.
As a proponent of sound principles, I will be a strong voice for our seven unique counties. My focus will include promoting transparency, protecting our industries, promoting quality education, mental health priorities and, above all, honor my oath to our U.S. and Colorado Constitutions.
It will be honor to serve you, and I am asking for your vote.
Please learn more about me at IrvineForColorado.com.
Debra Irvine is a candidate for the Colorado Senate District 8 Republican primary.
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