Senate Dist. 16 campaign: Jeanne Nicholson |

Senate Dist. 16 campaign: Jeanne Nicholson

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Jeanne Nicholson

SUMMIT COUNTY – Democratic state Senate candidate Jeanne Nicholson thinks getting people back to work will be the most important job Colorado’s state legislature will take on next year.

As many people in the district and throughout the state are struggling to stay in their homes and keep small businesses afloat, Nicholson said it’s incumbent upon lawmakers to find ways to get people into jobs now that will “make a difference in the long run.”

Education, renewable energy, forest health, tourism and health care are all sectors that fit that bill in Nicholson’s eyes. And she feels her eight years as a Glipin County commissioner have prepared her well to find ways for the state to give them a boost.

On forest health, Nicholson has traveled to Washington, D.C., advocating for federal funding to address the pine beetle epidemic. Locally, she helped spearhead a project to heat a Glipin County Road and Bridge building with biomass – burning chipped lodgepole pines killed by the beetles. Those are the kinds of solutions, she said, that support jobs in the short term and help address long-term priorities like forest health and clean energy.

“I do think having experience with the political process helps you to be more effective,” Nicholson said. “I have had the opportunity to build relationships with people who have different world views than I do. When you understand people who are coming from different perspectives, you’re better prepared to find those opportunities for solutions without polarizing a discussion and ending up in a stalemate.”

Before her entry into political office, Nicholson served as a public health nurse, including as supervisor for the Intermountain Nurse Family Partnership Program, which provides pre- and postnatal nursing visits to High Country families. Her background, interest and connections in the health care field both motivate and qualify her for Colorado’s health-care challenges, she said. The state will need decision makers who understand the health care world in order to best implement the reforms handed down by Congress, she added.

“One opportunity we have at the state level that they didn’t implement at the national level is to exercise the public option. Does that make sense for the state? And if so, how do we do it well so that we can provide health insurance coverage for more people in Colorado?” Nicholson said of the policy issues lawmakers will have to address.

On the topic of the state’s looming budget cuts, Nicholson said she would fight to protect public education, health care and tourism funding.

“Tourism is already a strong industry, and we need to shore it up more. I would seek to promote tourism, in part because it doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment the way other industries do,” Nicholson said.

One area she’s not planning to go to bat for financially is the state’s corrections system. Too many nonviolent offenders are serving time in prisons, she said, and at great cost to the state. Furthermore, many of them are eventually returning behind bars after their initial release, signaling that the system is not working. Nicholson said she would support new sentencing guidelines that would reduce Colorado’s overall incarceration rates.

On transportation, Nicholson said she thinks Interstate 70’s traffic woes should be addressed in the long-term with a fixed guideway system, acknowledging that such a project would come at monumental expense. She said luring the Winter Olympics to Colorado could be a catalyst for such funding.

“If we successfully promoted ourselves for the Olympics, a private company could come forward with an interest in showcasing its technology. And we would still have to find public dollars, as well,” Nicholson said.

SDN reporter Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or

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