I believe that we are at our best when we are looking out for one another, and that basic principle is behind each and every issue fueling my campaign.
First and foremost, I believe that we need a national health care payment system – I am supportive of an Expanded Medicare-for-All system – that provides universal coverage for all Americans. Healthcare should be available for all, regardless of age, gender, ability to pay, pre-existing conditions, or any other characteristic, and no American should be forced into bankruptcy because of their health.
Although a national, universal health care system would ultimately come from the federal level, there is much we can do at the state level to cut costs. This is especially true for residents along the Western Slope, where we pay some of the highest rates in the country. One initiative I would pursue immediately would be to push legislation that requires every health insurance company selling anywhere in Colorado to sell in all counties, and to charge the same rates in each and every county. There are many other ways that the state of Colorado can rein in rates and insist on insurance companies providing a higher level of care. I will be a tireless voice in the Colorado Senate for those types of initiatives, and improving access to care for everyone in our district.
High quality public education is essential to thrive in today’s world. Not only is education critical for the future of entire generations of our children, but businesses that bring good-paying jobs are very reluctant to locate to areas where the public school systems are less than top-notch. Our local educators work extremely hard for our children, but the unfortunate reality is that the state of Colorado is not doing enough to support those educators. We are among the lowest-ranked states in the nation in terms of investment in our public school students, and we also rank near the bottom nationally in teacher salaries. This is unacceptable to me, and, if elected, I intend to work with like-minded senators – no matter what side of the aisle they are on – to do everything in our power to build and improve our public schools. Our educators and our children deserve nothing less.
Our Senate District 6, which makes up the southwestern corner of Colorado, contains hundreds of thousands of acres of grazing land, farm land, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. I believe strongly that we have a responsibility to work to preserve that unique natural beauty. We must make sure that we pass down to our children (and our children’s children) the clean air, clean water, and fruitful soil that makes our district so special. Based on these beliefs, as your state Senator I would explore smart, sensible rules and regulations aimed at preserving our environment but also fostering responsible growth.
There is no question that a viable mining and oil/gas industry can bring enormous benefit to our communities. But we also need these industries to be responsible citizens, who care as much about preserving our lands, water and air as every individual who calls our district home. I believe it is naive to think that large companies will simply do right by the environment and the local community on their own. We need a level of sensible regulation to ensure that all industry is carried out responsibly. As your representative in the Senate, my goal would be to create a set of standards that does not stifle growth, but that does protect our environment. And I will hold companies responsible when they fail to meet those standards.
I understand that gun rights are a deep-seated issue for many in our district, but I also know that everyone in our district wants to see the issue of gun violence, and gun safety, meaningfully addressed by their representatives. I support the Second Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court: the rights granted under the Second Amendment, while important, are not absolute. As Justice Scalia (one of the most conservative justices in recent history) put it, the Second Amendment does not grant the “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever for whatever purpose.” I agree with this sentiment, because it seems to me like simple common sense.
Weapons for hunting, gun sports, and self-protection have been a part of our culture for generations, and I believe that that type of gun ownership should not be subject to overly-burdensome regulation. But I also believe that weapons that are designed for military use, that enable people to kill other people quickly and easily and contribute to the kind of devastating gun violence we’ve seen in recent years, should be responsibly controlled. Again, to me this is an issue of common sense, and one that I’m not willing to simply ignore or try to wish away. When you cut through the noise, I believe that there are reasonable steps to promoting gun safety that the vast majority of our district can agree on, and if elected, I believe it would be irresponsible of me to do anything other than work towards improving gun safety.
Like much of the rest of the country, southwest Colorado needs to maintain a strong infrastructure in order to support our businesses, including outdoor activities, tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing. The infrastructure needs include roads, bridges, utilities, and much more.
Economy and Jobs
Our district has so much to offer – natural beauty, welcoming, close-knit communities, and abundant resources from oil and gas to agriculture – and yet is no secret that we have a significant shortage of jobs that pay a living wage. There is only so much we can do legislatively to solve this problem, although I would support efforts to raise the minimum wage responsibly, and am open-minded to other legislation aimed at addressing this issue.
Where your state Senator can really make a difference, however, is in building relationships throughout the state, and working to bring businesses to our area that pay higher wages and are willing to invest long-term in our communities. This is where things like improving our public education system and curbing the too-high healthcare costs our friends and neighbors pay can be hugely persuasive: those businesses, the ones that will bolster and grow our communities with good-paying jobs, are looking for areas that have shown a commitment to those issues. As part of this campaign, I have been traveling all over this district, and I am struck by what each of our communities has to offer. As your state Senator, I would be a constant and enthusiastic advocate for your community, with a constant goal of convincing strong, community-minded businesses to relocate to our district.