We asked a series of general and targeted questions to the 3rd congressional district candidates, Congressmen Scott Tipton (R) and challenger Sal Pace (D), to generate a discussion about issues affecting the district.
I’m raising my young family right here in Pueblo, and I understand what Colorado families are going through because we’re going through it too. I’m proud to have served as minority leader in the Colorado state house, where I’ve worked to find bipartisan, commonsense solutions.
1.) Regarding finding common ground rather than vilifying the other party, if you are not in the majority when you are elected, what would you do to be effective as a representative?
The other side of the aisle shouldn’t be seen as the adversary. Instead, they should be viewed as potential partners. I don’t believe that we should sacrifice our values or principles, but we can work towards finding areas of agreements. If everyone had this focus in Washington, DC then I think Congress could be putting people back to work and rebuilding the middle class.
2.) We have so many failing schools in Southern Colorado, what can you do on the federal level to start improving education in our district?
As minority leader, when Colorado schools were facing steep budget cuts because of the financial crisis, I worked with a moderate Republican to allocate an additional $90 million for school funding, while still balancing the budget. Investing in education is one of the smartest decisions we can make, and it will pay dividends for our economy. Congress needs to invest in the strongest schools, the most innovative classrooms, and the top teachers.
3.) How do you see your role, if you were elected as Congressman, as managing the supply of water from the western slope, the demands of metropolitan areas and the eastern slope, along with the legislated demands of the lower basin states such as Kansas for the Arkansas river and California and Nevada for the Colorado river?
The Third Congressional District needs a strong voice to protect Colorado water. In the state legislature I sponsored a basin of origin bill, and I also passed a bill to create a special district to clean up the Fountain Creek, while making Colorado Springs pay for it. I will be a tireless defender of rural water. The third district has a rich history of farming and ranching; we need to protect that way of life.
4.) Because issues differ greatly from region to region, how do you plan on balancing a diverse district?
Although the Third Congressional District is the biggest in Colorado, we have a lot of common issues and concerns. Water, natural resources, and energy issues are all extremely important to every citizen of the district. As Coloradans, we can work together to find commonsense solutions to these issues that affect each and every one of us.
5.) Some regulation in our economy is needed, in your mind what is the extent to which the government can create the most conducive environment for growth?
Regulation of the economy is about balance. A few years ago the regulatory process wasn’t working and there was an air quality permit backlog, so I co-sponsored a bill to speed up the process and assist the steel mill and cement plant in Pueblo. I know that government doesn’t create jobs. But government can help create the climate for growth. We need tax policies that are fair; regulations that make sense; and incentives that work.
6.) In an environment where politicians need lobbyists and lobbyists need politicians, how do individuals and small businesses influence the political dynamics so that they feel fairly represented?
I have a different philosophy. I believe that people come first. If I am elected, my constituents will be my top priority. Individuals and small businesses of the Third Congressional District will be the first people I talk to when I’m considering how to vote on legislation. Constituents are the necessary ones, not lobbyists.
7.) Both Scott Tipton and you have made government spending and the deficit a main tenant of the campaign; voters want to know, what are the spending cuts you propose for the district?
When we consider how to cut the deficit, we need to sit down and look at every area of government. There are also some common sense cuts that we can all agree on, like the $1 billion DDG Destroyer that the military didn’t even want but was given anyway. And we need to eliminate tax loopholes, like the one that allows people to write off the second home mortgages on their yacht.
8.) Your critics will point to your lack of experience as one of your main detractors. Explain to voters how being a State Representative, a part-time professor and a political staffer gives you the experience needed to serve as the Congressman for this district?
I’m the son of a mechanic and the youngest of nine kids. I’ve been a maintenance man, dishwasher, waiter. These are real jobs, and you shouldn’t have to be a banker or lawyer to be in Congress. I know what Colorado families are going through, because my family is going through them too. It’s time for the rest of us to have a voice in Congress.
9.) Do you think that a woman’s right to choose is her inalienable right? Explain your answer.
Government should stay out of religion, and religion should stay out of government.
10.) In light of the tragic shootings at Aurora and Columbine, under what circumstances should citizens be prohibited from carrying guns?
We can and we should have the tools to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those who are mentally deranged. I don’t believe that the hunters and sportsmen and women of the Third Congressional District should be punished for the actions of a deranged lone gunman. I think we need stronger mental health treatment programs, and I have been a strong supporter of them during my time in the legislature.