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WATER

Given that Colorado is naturally arid, Coloradans have a long, proactive history of conserving water. Some of our conservation efforts include tiered water rates and watering days. While conservation should continue to be a first consideration, in the future these measures alone won’t be enough to provide for all the recreational, landscape, business and agricultural needs of our growing and prosperous state. We now face decisions as to how we will prepare for our children and future generations while preserving our precious environment. I believe a sensible solution includes not only education and conservation, but looking at a future storage site as well.

EDUCATION: Accountability, Local Control, Vocational Ed, and Innovation

Having repeatedly voted for tax increases for education, the people of Colorado have proven that they consider education to be of the highest priority. Between state, federal, and local funding, a school is allocated approximately $9000 per student per year in Colorado. If the average teacher earns about $49,000 in salary and teaches a class of about 30 students, $270,000 per classroom should be enough money to provide an excellent education for our children. I would like to see increased accountability with what our schools currently receive and to make better use of the resources we have, before we seek additional monies through increased taxes and bond issues.

I am in favor of returning control of education to local school districts, parents, and teachers. Cookie cutter federal education programs may sound good, but children do not all have equal educational needs. The federal government does not work with your child on a personal level. You and your child’s teacher know best what your child needs. I will work to restore local control in order to best serve your children’s educational future. I will also support ongoing efforts to offer choice in the education system through charter schools and other similar programs.

Rather than continuing to seek more and more money for education, let’s focus on spending our money wisely. Let’s pay top-dollar salaries to qualified and motivated teachers. Let’s take the simple steps needed to ensure our children have classrooms equipped for learning. Let’s make sure most of our tax dollars go toward the teacher and the classroom, not to administration and overhead. Let’s put parents, our community, and our local school board in charge of our schools, not far-away bureaucrats who do not know or understand our community’s needs.

One of our community’s needs is to be able to hire more people who are trained in the trades such as electricians, welders, plumbers and construction workers. There is a marked shortage of these workers, but not because of low wages. Many people working in these professions make as much or significantly more money than some college graduates. The problem is that not enough young people are choosing to work in the trades, possibly because of the emphasis in our education system on getting a college degree. We need to value the trades and encourage people to consider this as a viable educational and career path. And I should know! As a single mom I attended Larimer County Voc-Tech (now Front Range Community College) years ago where I was trained as a machinist and was able to earn a good living at the time. Let’s commit to supporting vocational education as well as college education.

In addition to directing more of our educational funds toward vocational education, I also support the trend toward offering dual credit at the high school level. Although most of our high schools offer some classes that provide both high school and college credit, the charter school Early Colorado Colleges takes this practice to the next level. Students graduating from this public school often graduate with a two year associate degree in addition to their high school diploma. And this is done at no extra cost to the students or the school district! This program is an exciting way to leverage our community colleges and give students a financial head start on a college degree. I love this kind of innovative thinking and hope to support future efforts along this line.

TRANSPORTATION: Safe & Reliable Infrastructure, I-25, Funding Solutions, New Technologies

Safe, reliable transportation is essential for our economy and our busy lifestyles. We need to ensure that people and goods can be moved efficiently and cost-effectively without adversely affecting our environment. When traffic is stalled on our highways, the accident rate rises and more air pollution is generated as engines idle rather than running at efficient speeds.

I believe looking at future solutions for mass transit is important. While I understand that exploring alternatives for mass transit will take time, it is imperative that our state finds real time solutions to the traffic volume problem on I-25. While a third lane will be added between Loveland and Fort Collins in the near future, this lane will be a toll lane for cars with less than three occupants, making it less accessible to lower income folks. The extra lanes will be added between the existing lanes, which means this portion of I-25 will lose the green median, which acts as a visual barrier and a safety zone. I commend our County Commissioners and local communities for making this expansion happen, even if it is less than ideal, but the reason for that is lack of leadership at the state level to provide adequate transportation funding for the last nine years.

It is very important that we not let partisan politics get in the way of securing the funds for improving our highways. The legislature needs to be open to multiple sources of funding including bonds and changing the funding formula to ensure that transportation receives a set percentage of the General Fund. I am not in favor of raising taxes to fund transportation because I believe that with careful management there is enough money in the General Fund to cover this vital state need. CDOT needs to know how much money will be available year to year so that they can plan better. There may be other ways to raise money for transportation, but these two avenues are crucial. We also need to make sure that all parts of the state have access to these funds rather than focusing only on the Denver/Boulder area. Finally, I pledge to prioritize funding for I-25 and any other overburdened highway corridors over alternatives such as RTD or bike paths, much as I support these alternatives, because safety and timely travel matter.

And let’s not forget other technological advances that may provide for more efficient and clean transportation. For example, current efforts to automate cars (self-driven cars that cooperatively communicate with the other vehicles on the road) may mature in just a decade or two, allowing for very safe and rapid traffic along the Front Range, with the added benefit that once you get to Denver, you have your own vehicle to use to get around. Adding a third lane to I-25 would not be wasted when such technology matures.

Colorado’s first priority regarding transportation must be to restore funding for highways, bridges, and other state roads. Colorado is a prosperous state in a world power; surely we can find a way to pay for safe and reliable highways! If elected, I pledge to make transportation a priority as a legislator.

HEALTH CARE: One size does not fit all, Healthcare Cost Sharing Programs, Doctor and Patient-Directed Care

The Affordable Care Act has profoundly changed the way healthcare coverage is provided in the United States. Individual states such as Colorado are limited in their ability to offer healthcare solutions beyond the provisions of ACA. I am disheartened to learn of how quickly premiums have risen in the last couple of years, and the number of insurance companies no longer offering coverage in our state is not helping to keep costs down. The basic problem with ACA is that it is a one-size-fits-all approach. Insurance companies can no longer tailor coverage to the needs of different populations. Why does maternity care need to be offered on every policy? Why can’t consumers choose the level of coverage they deem best for them?

I will work to create a system where people have more options and control over their health care. My goal is to enable the free market purchase of insurance, including across state lines. I do not believe government should dictate to insurance companies who and what they cover. For instance, if a person is willing to buy insurance to cover a non-family member, a free market would provide it. I advocate self insuring and health savings accounts which can be transferred to your children. Rather than limiting choices, government policies should maximize options for coverage so that consumers, employers, and providers can tailor programs to fit their needs rather than the dictates of a bureaucracy.

An example of innovation in healthcare is healthcare cost sharing programs, which are usually faith-based non-profit ministries. I would like to see this option expanded to include non-faith-based non-profits as well. Unfortunately, this may require changing legislation at the federal level, but I would love to explore how this could be done in Colorado. How about a cost sharing program based on people who pledge to pursue a healthy active lifestyle? Or one for people who pledge to avoid overconsumption of alcohol and drugs? Or one for people who commit to preventative and alternative care so that they can better avoid expensive drugs and surgery?

Our healthcare challenges are not all directly caused by public policy, but public policy has created the environment in which patients, doctors, alternative care providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and medical device manufacturers must operate. We must make sure that our legislative efforts to help patients do not make it harder for solution providers to do their jobs. Treatment plans should be directed by the patient and the health care provider, without undue interference from government or government directed insurance companies. I will work to hold the line on costs, to slow the increases in healthcare premiums by carefully evaluating the mandates. I support creative alternatives and solutions that increase accessibility and reduce costs by returning healthcare decisions to the doctor and the patient.

FRACKING

Some of the voters I have visited with have expressed concern surrounding the subject of drilling for oil and associated issues that seems to stem from misinformation. Natural gas is an important transitional energy source and has become less and less expensive to extract. Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is convinced the nation’s oil and natural gas resources can be developed safely. Chu, who served as Energy Secretary from 2009 until 2013, said, “Technology is available to deal with issues such as methane leaks at drilling sites and advances can be made to reuse contaminated fracking fluids in drilling operations.” He also said groundwater supplies can be protected if oil and gas companies follow industry standards for well construction.

Low cost energy fuels our economy, maintains our quality of life, and has done so for decades. Fears of potential mishaps should not prompt a knee-jerk reaction that would cripple our economy by banning extraction and delivery of oil and gas from Colorado. Colorado has the strictest regulations in the nation. Let’s wisely enforce our current regulations and explore whether additional safeguards are needed. In the meantime, let’s not threaten to shut down current operations, driving business and vital dollars to other states.

SOCIAL ISSUES

Some people want to influence your vote by suggesting that a candidate will try to impose her personal choices upon your lifestyle. In reality, many of these social issues are not controlled by your state legislature, but are decided at the federal level. Personally, I believe the government is involved in too many areas of our personal lives already, and I will work to lessen the intrusion of government into our personal lives.

ROLE OF GOVERNMENT

I believe that the first and highest role of the government is to defend the rights of its citizens. This should never include infringing upon the rights of others. Note that our rights are inherent by nature and not granted by government. We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because we are human, not because government says so. However, government can and should assist with services such as public safety and infrastructure for the benefit of our communities.

Many bills are written with confusing language and often will benefit special interests rather than the general citizenry, thereby creating “winners and losers”. My goal while in the legislature will be to assist in preparing bills that clearly state their purpose and address necessary issues for the general benefit of all citizens. With every bill, I will ask: “Do we need this?” “Can this be provided via the private sector or is it something that only government can do?” “Does it benefit a special interest or all Coloradans?” Over the last 14 years, as a volunteer advocate for the people, I have worked hard to establish bipartisan relationships. I will be an effective voice in the Colorado legislature.

CANDIDATE SURVEYS

Colorado Family Action Foundation Voter Guide