Rep. Mike Coffman listened to constituent Osi Sladek’s concerns.
BY FREDA MIKLIN
As they do every year, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the National Council of Jewish Women sponsored a candidate forum for all federal, statewide and state legislative candidates. This one was held at Temple Emanuel at 51 Grape Street in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood. Contenders mixed and mingled with a crowd of over 300 interested voters for an hour before taking their seats on the stage of the main sanctuary to answer questions from former 9News anchor Mark Koebrich.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette and her CD1 challenger, Republican Caspar Stockham, along with Democrat Joe Neguse and Republican Pete Yu, both seeking the CD2 House seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, were present. CD4 incumbent Ken Buck showed up, though his Democratic challenger did not. Crowd favorite U.S. Rep. Ed Perl-
mutter appeared, along with his challenger, Republican Mark Barrington. Candidates for CD6, incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and challenger Jason Crow drew the most attention from the crowd.
Governor candidate Rep. Jared Polis posed with state Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet.
Polis answers questions and explains his positions
Since Republican gubernatorial candidate and Greenwood Village resident, Walker Stapleton, had a schedule conflict and could not attend the event, Jared Polis had the stage to himself responding to questions. Koebrich began by asking what role local law enforcement should play in enforcing immigration law. Polis said, “The president should not co-opt local law enforcement to fix broken immigration law. Local law enforcement keeps us safe.”
On ballot measures, he said that Amendment 74 would cause all zoning decisions to be questioned. It states that property owners should be compensated for decreased property values resulting from state laws or regulations. Polis is against it. He said he wants to improve schools and health care, and that we should move toward renewable energy. He talked about increasing broadband coverage in rural areas and using it for tele-medicine as one way to decrease the cost of health care. Polis closed by saying, “I’ve created jobs, started businesses, run a school, and represented northern Colorado in Congress for 10 years. I want to make full-day kindergarten and pre-school available to everyone so that middle-class families can get what the wealthy already do and use public-private partnerships to make it possible. I want to protect public lands that keep Colorado beautiful and support outdoor recreation and the tourism industry.”
In a first-of-its-kind photo, The Villager caught Brian Watson and state Rep. Dave Young together. They are running against each other for state treasurer.
Statewide candidates tell voters who they are
Candidates for state treasurer, attorney general, and secretary of state spoke voters 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler told voters he will be an attorney general for Colorado, not Republicans or Democrats, and will fight for the rights of all Coloradans and our constitution. His opponent, Phil Weiser, said he worked at the U.S. Justice Department to protect consumers. He said that we need an AG who protects our air, water and reproductive rights. He reminded voters that the AG has discretion about how it protects citizens.
State treasurer candidate Brian Watson said he founded a company that has been investing capital for 20 years and now owns assets worth $1.3 billion in 16 states. He said he would not take a salary as treasurer and that voters should entrust the state’s funds with him because he is a good steward. Watson’s opponent in the treasurer’s race, state Rep. Dave Young, said he has been on the six-member joint budget committee that drafts Colorado’s annual budget for six years. In a separate interview with The Villager, Young said that he has a deep understanding of the state’s finances that will allow him to “hit the ground running.” He said he would work with the legislature to further address the PERA issue because the 2017 fix didn’t go far enough, and he plans to add staff to process claims for the Great Colorado Payback.
Secretary of state challenger Jena Griswold told the audience that she is the first person in her family to attend college and law school. Her goal is to get more people voting and to increase transparency around “dark money.” Incumbent Wayne Williams said he’s worked with Democrats and Republicans and that his office is fair to everyone. He reported that under his administration, Colorado has the highest percentage of registered voters in the U.S. and had the highest turnout of any state in the 2016 election at 90 percent. He pointed out that a recent Washington Post article referred to Colorado as the safest place in which to vote. Williams said he worked with Gov. John Hickenlooper to add 100,000 new business registrations to the state’s rolls.
Congressional candidates answer questions
Koebrich said that three presidents have utilized the Authorization for Use of Military Force act passed shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to go into wars in the Middle East. He asked Coffman and Crow, both military veterans, to address the issue. Coffman said, “I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation to make the 2001 authorization more restrictive. Congress needs to regain its power.” Crow said, “We’re in the 17th year of the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress has abdicated its authority to limit wars.”
In their closing remarks, Coffman said that when he went to Israel in 2009, he asked officials there how to stop Iran. They said economic sanctions were the answer. The Iran nuclear deal implemented under President Obama in January 2016, ended economic sanctions and restricted inspections. He said, “Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the U.S. not to adopt it. I stand with Israel.” President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal in May.
Crow said he became an Army Ranger after Sept. 11. “Our strength is in our shared values, which are being torn apart by what is going on in Washington, D.C. This administration is deeply troubling. Equally troubling is Congress’ inability to keep it in check.”
Koebrich asked CD1 candidates about the U.S. role in achieving peace in the Middle East. DeGette said, “The U.S. has tried to broker peace. It takes committed even-handed leadership. President Trump isn’t helpful by taking the side of the Saudis in a way that makes no sense.” Stockham said that the chances of Middle East peace are “slim and none. In that region they only respect strength. We should support Israel.”
Buck was asked if he supports sustained diplomacy with North Korea. Buck responded, “Yes, but if North Korea acquires nuclear capabilities, we have to be realistic. Kim Jong-un is crazy and irrational.”
Candidates for CD7 were asked to address the U.S. support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Perlmutter said, “Today we are questioning any relationship with the Saudis due to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. I’m very disturbed with President Trump’s statements that rogue agents committed murder inside the Saudi embassy.” Challenger Barrington said, “We need to stop fighting in Congress. There is turmoil in the world. Moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will help bring peace.”
In closing statements, said she passed a bill for $6 billion in biomedical research and has won two bipartisan awards. She would like to fix health care, immigration and address climate change. Buck said it was a mistake when people said that Trump is not a legitimate president. He said that our economy is strong, but we should stop sending money to Saudi Arabia and develop our own energy. He encouraged the crowd to support Coffman.
Perlmutter left his seat to stand in front of the crowd and say, “We live in a beautiful state in a wonderful country. We have a good economy. We are losing our public lands and pre-existing conditions are under attack. One day Canada is our best friend, then it’s North Korea, Putin and Saudi Arabia!”
Colorado treasurer candidate state Rep. Dave Young visited with Greenwood Village resident Jean Greenberg.
Wearing a patriotic tie that matched his campaign sign, CD 7 candidate Mark Barrington caught up with U.S. Rep. Ken Buck.
Proving that candidates from different parties can be cordial, Democratic AG candidate Phil Weiser and Wayne Williams, Republican secretary of state running for re-election, caught up as the forum was starting.
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