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Rumble in the Rockies


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It’s the main event, and boy, is this gonna be a doozy. The challengers have trained—some more than others—and the reigning champs are in the best shape of their political careers. The sparring is over, it’s time to see who will take the belt. For the 2010 mid-term election, YS profiles each fighter…er, candidate, and we do what we do best: have an opinion. Just call us Colorado’s political referee. Let’s get ready to rumble.

KEY: D: democrat
R: Republican
AC: American Constitution
U: Unaffiliated
L: Libertarian
*: Incumbent

US Senate
*Michael Bennet D
No interview

Ken Buck R
The Weld County District Attorney calls the stimulus package counterproductive and says Obamacare breaches on personal freedoms and states’ rights. Buck is a strict constructionalist who promises to vote against any tax increases, wants to consider “means testing” for Social Security and suggests repealing the Obama administration’s healthcare policy while enacting free-market health reforms.

YS endorses: Neither
Bennet didn’t take time out of his, admittedly, busy schedule to talk to us; accessibility is a priority for us, so Bennet isn’t getting our love this election. Still, Buck supports cuts to the Department of Education, wants to repeal Obamacare and says the progressive movement is the greatest threat to the United States. His extreme conservatism is just not our cup of tea.

House of Representatives, District 2
*Jared Polis D
Rep. Polis sits on the education and labor committee as well as the judiciary committee. He’s proposed numerous education bills and recently drafted the Summit and Eagle County Wilderness Preservation Act. His goals for a second term include reforming No Child Left Behind—“this time, we are going to get accountability right”—replacing the immigration system, and supporting pro-growth economic policies.

Stephen Bailey R
Bailey will work to defend and support the US Constitution: Protecting individual rights by ensuring the “government does not initiate the use of force against its citizens.” He wants to limit regulations that inhibit business and support policy that reduces spending and decrease processes in Congress. Bailey promises to never vote to increase the debt or for deficit spending. He also believes Congress should revisit and rethink the war on terror.

YS endorses: Polis
Polis is a worker bee. He has made his mark on Congress—by leading the way in education and immigration reform.

US Congress, District 4
*Betsy Markey D
Rep. Markey prides herself on working across party lines. The first-term blue dog Democrat is a moderate who represents the rural areas of Colorado while supporting the Recovery Act and healthcare reform. She calls her Earmark Rescission Bill, which rescinds millions in unspent transportation earmarks, an example of bi-partisan policy that decreases the national debt.

Cory Gardner R
No interview

YS endorses: Markey
We love that Markey truly reflects the wide-range of values from District 2, and we look forward to her work on the upcoming farm bill. She is a true representative.

Governor
Jaimes Brown L
Brown focuses on the flaws of the two-party system. “It’s where we are divided on everything. We should focus on the 50 percent we do agree on.” Opposing the war on drugs, Brown is a supporter of industrial hemp as a way to boost the economy. He wants the state to use property tax to pay for all Constitutionally mandated spending and sales tax to fund other spending.

Jason Clark U
With military, business and financial experience, Clark says he is a leader with little trust in most politicians. Still, Clark quotes Ross Perot and wants to “create jobs, jobs, jobs!!” Clark would appeal to companies by marketing Colorado’s assets.

Paul Noel Fiorino U
No interview

John Hickenlooper D
Hickenlooper says small government does not happen instantly. “It must be done effectively, efficiently and elegantly.” The pro-business, pro-environment Denver mayor is focusing his campaign on pulling Colorado up by its bootstraps. He’s a believer in higher education—as an investment that will boost the economy—and will build private partnerships to boost educational opportunities.

Dan Maes R
No interview

Tom Tancredo AC
The former congressman says his motivation for running is to keep the state from becoming a sanctuary for illegal immigrants—and keep Hickenlooper from becoming governor. If elected, Tancredo would battle against unions and illegal immigration to scale down the size and scope of the government. He wants to make the state less hostile to business and commerce by reducing taxes and regulation. He supports school vouchers.

YS endorses: Hickenlooper.
Mayor Hickenlooper is a moderate who recognizes the importance of business in the state’s solvency. He’s a leader with balance, foresight and plans for improving education and the economy while also focusing on the environment.

Treasurer
*Cary Kennedy D
The state treasurer spent her last term avoiding losses in the state’s investments. She’s done well, showing positive earnings throughout the downturn. She’s also focused on transparency, revamping the treasurer’s website and creating online databases (like Tax Tracks). She believes the treasurer’s office has a role in ensuring public schools have sufficient funds.

Walker Stapleton R
Stapleton has worked in investment banking and business for years, and he wants to “return Coloradans’ right to vote for taxing and spending,” a jab at the 2009 FASTER bill. He would work toward reforming PERA by changing its structure. He blames Kennedy’s Amendment 23 for budget woes and says her investments have “largely maintained the status quo.” He would like to see the state look at investing in gold.

YS endorses: Kennedy
Kennedy has done an impressive job in protecting state investments and we believe her efforts to increase transparency have been sincere and effective. Her focus on education has meant improved rural schools.

Attorney General
*John Suthers R
The Attorney General has successfully implemented a program to tackle Internet-specific crimes, resolved litigation to clean up waste sites and continues to focus on water issues. He’s taken part in a Florida lawsuit to block healthcare reform as well as issues-efforts involving the pledge of allegiance and gay marriage; he says he takes part in cases to protect Colorado law.

Stan Garnett D
The Boulder County District Attorney is focusing on environmental enforcement, consumer protection and lowering the state’s consumer fraud rate. Garnett also finds fault with Suthers’ involvement in political issues, like the lawsuit against Obamacare, and promises to make the AG’s office non-partisan.

YS endorses: Garnett
We don’t think Suthers should have joined the Florida lawsuit. Although, we are bummed that Garnett will leave the DA’s office, we respect his calling: to protect people and natural resources—over partisan issues.

Secretary of State
*Bernie Buescher D
No interview

Scott Gessler R
Gessler is an election law expert, and he supports photo ID standards for voting, opposes mandatory mail-in ballots and opposes Buescher’s military voting waiver. Gessler also focuses on processes: cleaning up voter databases and bettering leadership over county clerks.

YS endorses: Gessler
Gessler has a firm grasp on election law and leadership. We feel his priorities are right on and he would be proactive while focusing on streamlining processes.

CU Regent At Large
*Steve Bosley R
Chief regent Bosley has helped to revamp professor tenure, secured presidents Hank Brown and Bruce Benson and sponsored the resolution to terminate Ward Churchill. He’s worked on improving efficiencies to prepare higher education with fewer state dollars. He will now focus on fundraising and getting CU research and start-ups into the private marketplace.

Melissa Hart D
Hart is a CU law professor—and if elected, would be the only professor on the board. Her goal is to make higher education affordable and accessible to everyone, to promote diversity and to increase scholarships as tuition soars. She wants to take the partisan politics out of the regents’ policy and conversation.

YS endorses: Hart
While Bosley has had successes as a regent, we believe having an educator and a second female on the board (that’s right, there’s only one)—especially someone who is focused on accessibility—would be a huge benefit. We feel Bosley should’ve voted to appeal the court’s decision to allow concealed weapons on campus; it comes down to preserving regents’ policy-making authority.

CU Regent District 4
Robert Bishop-Cotner D
The high school teacher and Windsor town board member supports using technology to bring quality education to community colleges. He says he would’ve voted to ban concealed weapons on campus and appeal the court’s decision. He calls himself a fiscal conservative and believes regent accountability should be improved.

Sue Sharkey R
No interview

YS endorses: Bishop-Cotner
Bishop-Cotner beams with energy, and he has a true passion for education. We think he would be the voice for students, educators and future CU students.

State Board of Education – CD 2
*Angelika Schroeder D
The former BVSD board member supported the adoption of common core standards, is working to replace the CSAPs with better assessments and supported the teacher tenure bill—because it creates an evaluation system for teachers. She wants to grow a relationship with higher education to increase opportunities.

Kaye Ferry R
The Vail businesswoman opposes the switch to common core standards, which she would work to rescind if elected, and opposes taking federal funds if they are tied to putting federal control over local schools. She would like to see an emphasis put on public comment during board meetings.

YS endorses: Schroeder
Schroeder is all about action: She’s worked hard to improve education, and we love her focus on improving assessments and closing the achievement gap.

District 10
*Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D) is running unopposed.

District 11
Deb Gardner D
The former chair of the Boulder County Democratic Party would work to close the achievement gap and produce new jobs through renewable energy expansion. She says her experience as an accountant will come in handy as the difficult economic climate continues.

Wes Whitely R
Whitely is focusing on jobs: He believes the state needs to get out of the way and let the market recover. Too much spending, he says, has put the state in dire straights. He believes there is gratuitous legislation, like regulation against texting while driving, which he calls unenforceable, and he would support repealing the 2010 tax credit eliminations.

YS endorses: Whitely
Gardner has a good mix of fiscal thoughtfulness and progressive-mindedness. But we think Whitely is a smart guy with all the right intentions and his fiscal conservatism is evenhanded; though, we don’t think repealing the so-called “dirty dozen” is in the state’s best interest.

District 12
Jeff Ilseman R
The West Point grad wants to address jobs in the private sector and focus on small business and private investment. Ilseman supports lowering barriers that inhibit job creation, including taxes, fees and regulation. Long-term, he wants to encourage development of university incubators into entrepreneurial companies to increase jobs and boost the economy. He says he will work to ensure that K-12 achievement sees cost-effective improvement.

Matt Jones D
In the 80s and 90s, Matt Jones spent three terms in the legislature, focusing on energy conservation, health care and education. He hopes to continue those concentrations. He wants to grow renewable energy in the state as a means to increase local jobs, and he will work to keep healthcare costs affordable.

YS endorses: Jones
This is a time when experience counts,
and Matt Jones has the right kind of legislative know-how. His record has shown a stellar approach to proactive economy-boosting policy.

District 29
*Debbie Benefield D
Rep. Benefield says she wants to ensure that every child has a great start, and much of her legislation has centered around
early childhood education and children. On top of school and health care, she wants to see comprehensive tax reform brought before voters in the next several years: “We need the voters to decide what they want to pay for.”

Robert Ramirez R
Ramirez has knocked on thousands of doors thus far; accessibility is a priority for him. He is focused on supporting the economy by decreasing regulation and avoiding new state programs as well as streamlining education to ensure money makes it into the classroom and increasing quality without cutting teachers.

YS Endorses: Benefield
Rep. Benefield is practical, and we like practical people. She knows the economy can’t be fixed over night, and she’s working on long-term solutions to ensuring that the state can pay for its services.

District 31
*Judy Solano D
The former teacher is the vice chair of the education committee and the chair of the energy committee; she proposed the “junk to jobs” bill as well as the “clean air, clean jobs” law. Solano says the economy and the budget are No. 1 this session as is public awareness about the state’s fiscal troubles. “I think we have to have a frank discussion with the public. We need to educate voters about how our state is functioning right now.”

Tom Janich R
Janich says conservative ideology makes the country a better place. He says Colorado should develop a plan for fiscal self-sufficiency “once the federal government goes bankrupt” and he will work to encourage American values. He supports a “slow phase out of all welfare programs” and supports limited government and lowered taxes.

YS endorses: Solano
Let’s just be honest, Janich is way too conservative for our tastes. His values do not reflect our values. Plus, Rep. Solano continues to make policy that is smart and effective.

District 33
*Dianne Primavera D
Rep. Primavera has worked tirelessly on issues of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment; she successfully proposed legislation to prohibit insurance companies from denying claims for cancer patients in clinical trials. She now hopes to focus on jobs: “to see if there are any obstacles that are hurting small business that we could remove.” She is also working on legislative accountability on the audit committee.

Donald Beezley R
With a background in business, Beezley currently serves on the boards for the TABOR Committee and TABOR Foundation. He wants to improve the state’s business culture: creating a welcoming environment and avoiding barriers, like regulation and taxes. He hopes to focus on quality education and improving infrastructure while returning fiscal discipline.

YS Endorses: Rep. Primavera
Every year, Rep. Primavera walks her district, stopping at every house to talk with residents. And that’s reflected in how she works at the Capital.

District 34
*John Soper D
Rep. John Soper considers himself a representative of the working class. And he considers the votes he makes and the bills he sponsors as the community’s policy, not his own. In his next term, the sponsor of the recent carbon monoxide bill would like to focus on encouraging manufacturing jobs
in Colorado.

Brian Vande Krol R
The small-business owner wants to see lowered taxes and fewer regulation to boost business and increase jobs. He calls the 2010 legislative session one of the worst for business and wants to repeal the “dirty dozen,” which eliminated tax breaks. He also supports tuition tax credits for Colorado’s students.

YS endorses: Soper
Rep. John Soper is a blue collar guy with blue collar roots, and in politics, it’s rare to find someone who truly represents working class people.

District 35
*Cherylin Peniston D
The chair of the House local government committee has focused on education, the environment and air quality. Rep. Peniston prides herself on working across party lines to make good policy. She’s a firm believer in working with the business community to tackle inhibitive regulation.

Edgar Antillon R
After starting a nonprofit, Antillon now wants to focus on jobs and the economy in the state legislature. He supports providing incentives for job creation. “We need to get out of the way of business.” In education, he wants to ensure funding makes it to the classroom—and not the bureaucracy—and Antillon believes that school choice should be expanded, including vouchers.

YS endorses: Peniston
Antillon is young, but he’s focused. Still, Peniston has shown great leadership and has been—yes, we are gonna go there—a unifier.

County Commissioner
*Cindy Domenico D
The commissioner and former county assessor—named commissioner of the year by CCI in 2009—is committed to human services and the human services safety net in Boulder County. She supports the county’s continued focus on acquiring open space and would like to increase the relationship with nearby federal labs and the university.

Dick Murphy
Murphy is concerned about fiscal responsibility and feels there should be an official in the county to ask questions, bring up a different point of view and ensure the county is
not over-regulating personal property decisions. He finds fault with the commissioners’ decision to not pave Sunshine Canyon Road and says the county has enough open space.

YS endorses: Domenico
Domenico is a thoughtful person who understands the impact of her decisions. We admire her focus on human services; Boulder County’s disadvantaged often go unnoticed.

County Clerk and Recorder
*Hillary Hall D
The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder has spent the last four years working on efficiency, public service and stewardship. She implemented online voter registration and used technology to aid in efficiencies. This next term, she would like to focus on finding a new voting system as well as continuing to eye efficiencies.

Daniel Martin R
The real estate broker and computer engineer has lots of technical experience. He has volunteered as an election judge. Martin opposes mail-in-only elections and Election-Day registration as well as restoring “truly secret” ballots, which have no barcode or serial numbers.

YS Endorses: Martin
While Martin does not have experience, neither did Hall when she ran against Linda Salas. Martin has big goals, and we believe he can improve elections in the county.

County Treasurer
*Robert S. Hullinghorst D
The Boulder County Treasurer has pioneered a program to increase efficiencies in county offices, worked to safely invest county money—despite losses due to Lehman Brothers’ demise—and has worked with the state legislature on bills regarding taxes. He hopes to pursue management audits to continue tackling efficiency.

Marty Neilson R
Neilson, a proponent of 60, 61 and 101, has spent decades as a financial executive. Her main priorities are ensuring the safe and risk-averse investment of county funds as well as running a professional and effective office that provides customer service.

YS Endorses: Hullinghorst
While Hullinghorst saw losses in county investments this last term, he was not making choices and the losses were small compared to many municipalities. Hullinghorst consistently goes above and beyond what most treasurers see as their duty.

County Assessor
*Jerry Roberts D
Roberts has worked in the Boulder County Assessor’s Office for decades. “I’ve worked my way up and done almost every job in the department.” He prides himself on innovative techniques and tools, including GIS, to make the assessment process as effective and accurate as possible. He says he will work to improve transparency and accessibility. “My door is always open.”

Joel Champion R
Transparency and streamlining the protest and abatement processes are the former small-business owner and college professor’s biggest priorities. He is also running to bring a conservative standpoint to Boulder County leadership. “When you have one party in power it can lead to no checks and balances, a lack of transparency or openness.” He supports greater community awareness about the assessment process through the website and public forums.

YS Endorses: Roberts
Joel Champion makes a good point: having a conservative voice in county leadership would be beneficial. Still, the assessor needs experience and appraisal knowledge. Roberts has done a superior job in this role at assessor and he deserves another term in office.

County Sheriff
*Boulder County Sheriff Joseph Pelle (D) is running unopposed.

County Surveyor
*Boulder County Surveyor Jason Emery (D) is running unopposed.

County Coroner
Emma Hall U
The Boulder County native studied forensic science and criminalistics at Metro State and worked as senior investigator and field training officer at the Adams County Coroner’s Office. She wants to increase community awareness, secure a forensic pathologist and improve communication with law enforcement. She prides herself in bringing compassion to the job.

Dan Pruett U
Pruett is the chief deputy coroner for
Jefferson County, and he served as an investigator in the Boulder County coroner’s office for more than a decade. His priorities include finding a skilled, part-time forensic pathologist, revisiting scheduling to improve staff morale and efficiency, and securing a morgue facility for the county; currently, Boulder County uses a local hospital.

YS Endorses: Pruett
In this position, experience and know-how matter most. And often it’s about knowing where to go when you need specialized tools or expertise. Dan Pruett knows his stuff, and he’s motivated to improve the department.

Amendment P: Yes
This constitutional amendment would shift responsibility of charitable bingo and raffles from the Secretary of State’s Office to the Department of Revenue, which already oversees casinos and lottery. The move would consolidate gambling and games of chance under one umbrella, creating (hot-button word warning!) efficiency.

Amendment Q: Yes
This constitutional amendment allows the temporary relocation of the state government to a location outside of Denver if the governor declares an emergency—for a terrorist attack, natural disaster or alien attack.

Amendment R: Yes
Currently, ranchers and farmers who lease government-owned land have what is called “possessory interest” in the property and are required to pay property taxes. This amendment would exempt these farmers from paying property taxes as long as the annual value of the interest is $6,000 or less (the cost of administration is more than the revenues). It would have minimal impact on local governments and school districts.

Amendment 62: No
It’s back and that different! This constitutional “personhood” amendment, nearly identical to a previously voted-down amendment, changes the word “person” to mean “every human being from the beginning of biological development.” Beyond the fact that Yellow Scene believes in a woman’s right to choose, Amendment 62 is inflexible and extreme.

Amendment 63: No
In an attempt to head off impacts from federal healthcare policy, this constitutional amendment would prevent the state or federal government from enforcing healthcare reform or regulation, giving Coloradans the right to “health care choice.” We think this issue is good for the ballot. But it should not be in our Constitution, and the amendment is both ambiguous and complicated. It could hurt the state’s ability to make healthcare
reform or make changes to standards or regulating procedures, and it could certainly have unknown consequences.

Proposition 102: No
The proposition would permit only first-time offenders who are charged with nonviolent misdemeanors to use pretrial services. It’s just plain unnecessary, costly and would end up costing the state and counties more by keeping more prisoners in jail while waiting for bail. In good news, bailbondsmen would get a large boon if the measure passes.

County Issue 1A: Yes
The “Human Services Safety Net Mill Levy Increase” would add a .9 mill ad valorem property tax for five years to fill gaps in funding for human services and nonprofits that provide contract services to county families and kids. If passed, deficiencies caused by state cuts will be backfilled and about $5.2 million per year for five years beginning in 2011 would go to support programs that have already seen cuts. It would be about $7 per $100,000 in actual property value. It is incredibly important to sustain human service programs and nonprofits—especially as the need increases and funding from the state continues to diminish. It’s a small price to pay for maintaining programs that support children and
families most in need.

County Issue 1B: No
The “Countywide Open Space Sales and Use Tax Increase and Bond Authorization” approves a 0.15 percent sales and use tax and allows the county to sell $40 million in bonds, all of which will allow for the acquisition of open space land. To be completely honest, we love open space and we understand there is a sense of urgency to acquire these specific pieces of land—but it’s too much to ask of voters in this economy. There are two county tax increases on this ballot, one of which will support human services programs. If we had our druthers, we would rather have voters support the human services mill levy increase.

2A: Yes
The public accommodations tax increases taxes on renting hotel rooms from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent. The tax would benefit the city’s general fund, generating about $1 million; 20 percent would fund promotion of tourism and the rest would be used for basic services as well as promotion of programs and services. Money put into tourism promotion will have a huge pay off in the long run; tourism is an incredibly clean industry. While visitors stay, shop, eat and play, they don’t require city services.

2B: Yes
2B allows the city five years to figure out its franchise agreement with Xcel Energy without losing revenue; the current agreement with Xcel includes a franchise agreement fee that brings $4 million into city coffers. That agreement ends in the beginning of 2011. While law requires that Xcel continue providing energy to residents, Xcel no longer needs to pay the fee. 2B would replace that tax with a new, equal tax. Thusly, it won’t cost residents anything extra and it will ensure that the city doesn’t have a $4 million shortfall.

2C: Yes
This height limit proposition would add rooftop renewable energy improvements to the list of exceptions to the height-limit regulation. We say building height regulation should not get in the way of renewable energy progress within urban areas.

2D: No
This ballot measure expands the use tax on items or services purchased or leased outside of the city and used, stored or consumed within the city to 3.5 percent. It will also impact storage rentals in the city. This would allow Louisville to capitalize on the Conoco Phillips development and would potentially reinstate programs that have been cut due to lacking sales tax revenue. While we would like to see the return of the city’s July 4th fireworks, it just doesn’t make sense to ask local business to pay for that. These new funds would mostly benefit residents, but at the expense of local business.

3A: YES
This ballot item would up property taxes by about $120 dollars for a $350,000 house—raising $22.5 million, in the first year, for BVSD to make up for declines in state funds, to increase teacher/staff pay and to expand preschool and full-day kindergarten for low-income children. The cuts being made at the state level ensure that BVSD and other districts will take a drastic hit now. We have officially reached the proverbial cliff. District officials say the upcoming cuts will impact class-sizes as well as raising staffing ratios; it may even come to teacher furloughs. We think that public education is worth the investment for parents and nonparents alike. Sub-par schools lower quality of life and
create lackluster business communities; keep schools thriving and we keep our economy thriving.

About the Guide:
Our Rules
Yellow Scene refuses to endorse any candidate who does not interview with the editor (sorry, Sen. Bennet, we tried). Endorsements are decided by the editor, editor-at-large, associate editor and publisher.

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