October 8, 2010
Governor’s race, Senate race & County commissioner District 5? Look for those endorsements Wednesday
United States House of Representatives
Doug Lamborn effectively won re-election by winning his primary in one of the most dominantly Republican house districts in the country, and The Gazette endorses his re-election bid. With this endorsement, The Gazette encourages Rep. Lamborn to capitalize on the security that comes with election to a third term in Congress.
Lamborn is a stalwart on bread and butter Republican issues. He favors less government and lower taxes. He’s pro-gun, opposes abortion with an exception for life-of-mother concerns, and opposes welfare for illegal immigrants. On those issues alone, he’s a good fit for the majority of voters in the Fifth Congressional District.
But it’s time for Lamborn to make a name for himself as the kind of Congressman who quickly destroys obstacles to getting things done at home. He must get fearless and bold in his promotion and defense of the district. Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region need a pit bull in Washington. We need Lamborn to get ahead of the curve in ensuring the federal government looks to this region as the most logical and inviting location for military operations that must be expanded or relocated from other parts of the country. We need Lamborn to stop the Department of Interior from favoring Pueblo’s interests over those of Colorado Springs as our city’s utility embarks upon building the multi-billion dollar Southern Delivery System — a project essential to future prosperity and growth. Fight unapologetically for the interests of this district. Do everything possible to capitalize on your unassailable stature as the Republican representative from one of the country’s great bastions of Republican politics. This will be your third term, meaning constituents will have extremely high expectations for results.
Our endorsement goes to Republican Walker Stapleton in what may have been the most difficult candidate decision of them all. Incumbent Cary Kennedy, a Democrat, has done a tremendous job protecting Colorado’s financial assets and promoting the Great Colorado Payback, the state’s unclaimed property program.
Kennedy is the author of Colorado’s Amendment 23, which has tied state government to an unwise ratchet-up obligation in education spending. But she can be forgiven that, as voters must take the responsibility for making her proposal part of the Colorado Constitution. Kennedy has invested state assets cautiously and has avoided investment pitfalls that have caused other state treasuries to lose money. If re-elected, the state treasury will remain in excellent hands. Kennedy is so affable and competent that Democrats would be wise to consider her a future prospect for governor.
Her only problem in this election is the fact Walker Stapleton wants her job, and he is an exciting choice. A successful entrepreneur and businessman, Stapleton exudes an enthusiasm for promising investment returns gleaned from minimal risk. Like The Gazette’s editorial board, he speaks highly of Kennedy. But he asks this: “If you had a thousand dollars to invest, would you rather invest it with me or with Cary?”
The board determined our $1,000 would be safe with each candidate. The likelihood of a large return was greater with Stapleton, who sounds like he would run the state treasury like a mutual fund. Unlike Kennedy, Stapleton has generated great profits and returns in the private sector.
Kennedy is well educated, with a master’s degree from Columbia and a law degree from the University of Denver. But Stapleton’s academic background is better suited for financial work, having earned a degree in business economics from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Harvard.
Again, there is no bad choice for state treasurer in this campaign. The Gazette recommends Stapleton.
Without reservation, and with great enthusiasm, voters should choose incumbent Attorney General John Suthers , a Republican. His challenger, Democrat Stan Garnett, is the competent district attorney for Boulder. There’s no reason to believe Garnett could not serve as an effective attorney general, but there simply is nothing to be gained from replacing Suthers with him. Garnett tries to convince voters and editorial boards we need him because of his commitment to better consumer protection. But there is no credible evidence to suggest Suthers doesn’t effectively protect Colorado consumers from fraud, and even Garnett’s own efforts to make Suthers look weak on fraud complaints lead the listener to conclude that Suthers has made complaining about fraud substantially easier in Colorado. Additionally, the board was concerned about Garnett’s strong emphasis on consumer protection. While the electorate should expect some consumer protection from the state’s leading law enforcement official, there’s only so much a government official can do to protect consumers from bad roofers, investment scams, charity frauds and the like. The vast majority of consumer protection rests with alert consumers who hear the constant reminder: “Buyer beware.”
Despite a concern about medical marijuana that seems a bit obsessive, Suthers has been an extraordinary attorney general for Colorado and Colorado Springs. He was among the first of the country’s attorney’s general to join in the lawsuit against federally mandated health insurance, in which litigants have a strong chance of prevailing.
Even though he’s a law and order man and the former director of the state’s Department of Corrections, Suthers had the class and humility to join with activists and politicians of varying political ideologies to bring rational reform to the state’s sentencing guidelines for drug offenses. Best of all, Suthers is a lawyer first and a politician second.
That’s why he has served as a phenomenal attorney general. Garnett will have a future in state politics if he wants one, but this is most certainly not the time for a new attorney general. Vote for John Suthers, who gets The Gazette’s enthusiastic endorsement.
State Senate District 11
The race pits Republican Owen Hill against Incumbent Democrat John Morse. In this race, the board can make no recommendation . Each candidate is highly educated and intelligent, and Hill might someday find a niche in politics. The board was intrigued by his limited-government, free market economic advocacy. But Hill’s complete lack of experience in public policy shows. He is shooting for too high of an office for someone who has never held political office. Though ideology can effectively guide legislative decision making, Hill lacks fundamental understanding of the role of the seat he seeks to fill.
Morse, on the other hand, comes across as a seasoned politician with a firm grasp of the process. He exudes competence at achieving his goals and has a relatively decent record of doing so. And therein lies the problem. Morse successfully pushes an agenda The Gazette’s editorial board cannot support. He believes government is the source of the good life. He believes government is the ultimate solution to societal problems. Asked what bills he would introduce, he was anxious to speak of one that would reduce an individual’s choices regarding anesthetics and pain management in rural areas that lack anesthesiologists. He’s known for legislation that reduces the autonomy of individuals and enhances the authority of government. In fact, given the authority, Morse said he would love to gut the Colorado Constitution of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — even the part that allows voters to approve tax increases.
Morse takes a limited government stand on a few issues, such as medical marijuana and immigration. But his limited government positions are too limited for anyone who can’t support a big-government, tax-and-spend far-left-of-center agenda.
County Commissioner District 1
Just as the board looked forward to endorsing John Suthers, we endorse Darryl Glenn for the County Commission District 1 seat with equal enthusiasm. The board doesn’t agree with Glenn on all issues. But he is a man with tremendous knowledge of all branches of local government and quite possibly the most conservative politician in Colorado Springs.
Glenn would bring to the board of commissioners innovative ideas for making government more efficient. He speaks of negotiating intergovernmental agreements, in which some of the expensive replications of services provided by the city and county could be combined without a combined city/county government. He exudes an understanding that a government’s use of taxpayer money is a privilege, and not a right of the governing elite.
A lawyer and a graduate of the Air Force Academy, Glenn makes a convincing case that as a county commissioner he will be able to make great strides in creating more constructive and prosperous relationships between greater Colorado Springs and military bases in El Paso County.
His service on the Colorado Springs City Council, and his work in the private sector as a fitness trainer and a lawyer, make him uniquely qualified to work and negotiate with a variety of local business and government leaders.
Democratic candidate Steve Kjonass fell far short of convincing the board he had experience, credentials good ideas for efficient government. Glenn has the promise of becoming a tremendous asset in county government.
El Paso County Sheriff
Vote for Terry Maketa . More than once in recent years, the Gazette has explained to readers why Maketa may be one of the best big-city sheriffs in the United States. He has found efficient ways to curtail crime. When budgets have been tight, he has responded like an adult — finding efficient ways to save — instead of a politician who whines. When gasoline reached $4 a gallon two summers ago, Maketa asked deputies to drive around less until prices came down. When the community was stumped about its loss of a detox facility, Maketa modestly stepped up to solve the problem without asking taxpayers for a dime. He is an unwavering defender of gun rights, and often appeals to law-abiding citizens to obtain their concealed-carry permits. He knows gun rights reduce crime. He has pledged a lack of cooperation with gun bans on college campuses in El Paso County. Let’s keep Sheriff Maketa for as long as we can.
Amendments 60 & 61, and Proposition 101
Vote no on all three of these measures, which cannot do anything other than cripple state and local government to the point it will not be able to provide even the type of reasonable services expected by some of the most vociferous advocates of limited government. Amendment 60 would reduce property taxes in local jurisdictions that have opted out of TABOR limits, requiring a state backfill of revenues lost to school districts. Ultimately, this would result in nearly all state revenues going for education. Prisons would close and transportation infrastructure could not be built or maintained. Mayhem would result in a morass of litigation. Amendment 61 would make it impossible for state and local governments to take on even reasonable amounts of long-term debt, meaning immediate plans to move forward with the Southern Delivery System — a project essential to prosperity in Colorado Springs — would be dead. Proposition 101 would cut annual car registration fees to $10 and would phase in lower state income tax rates.
In general, The Gazette’s editorial board believes tax reductions stimulate economic growth by keeping more money in the hands of people who innovate, produce, buy and sell. But these measures restrict government to the point of creating financial mayhem. They are too much reform, too fast, to work for Colorado. Vote no on all three.
The board recommends a no vote on Amendment 62 , which would define human embryos as persons. Proponents of Amendment 62 hope that by defining embryos as persons, the state will ultimately prevail in overturning Roe v. Wade, giving states the option to outlaw abortion.
Despite the agenda of proponents, Amendment 62 would not overturn Roe v. Wade and it would not forbid abortion. In the United States, which is part of an imperfect world, some “persons” may be legally killed. Threatening intruders are persons, but in Colorado they may be killed. Death row inmates are persons who may be killed. Federal law says embryos may be killed, and defining them as “persons” won’t change that regardless of how one feels about abortion. Passage of 62 would do little more than open the doors for endless litigation, embroiling health care workers in conflicts involving the rights of unborn persons.
Proponents of 62 are right in one regard. The debate about abortion should focus on rights — which humans have them and which do not. As an honest society, we are beyond questioning whether a fetus is a life. The question should be this: When does a human life have rights? That difficult question cannot be solved, and will not be solved, by granting “personhood” to unborn human life.
Vote yes on this important amendment, known as Colorado’s Health Care Bill of Rights. In meeting with the board, Attorney General John Suthers said Amendment 63 will become particularly important in protecting the health care choices of Colorado residents in the likely event attorneys general prevail in their legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s mandate that would force all individuals to buy health insurance.
Amendment 63 would protect the right to health care choice in Colorado, saying “no statute, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or enforced by the state” may force a person to buy into any public or private health-insurance plan, or to “deny, restrict, or penalize the right or ability of any person to make or receive direct payments for lawful health care services.”
This will be a great way to protect Colorado citizens from an unfunded mandate from Uncle Sam.
El Paso County medical marijuana ban
Vote no . Medical marijuana retailers have brought order to mayhem and are providing a substantial boost in sales tax revenues to county government. Before the proliferation of medical marijuana stores, which are taxed and regulated, all marijuana sales were conducted on the black market. Sheriff Terry Maketa has said a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries would result in more illegal sales, in neighborhoods, which would be more difficult to police. It’s hard to find a good reason to support a ban.
Colorado Springs strong mayor
Vote yes . As The Gazette has already stated, the need for more accountable local government is clear. Under the current system, taxpayers employ an executive who isn’t elected and has more incentive to represent city employees than to represent voters.
Under the strong-mayor proposal, the city manager would be replaced by an elected chief executive who would earn less than half the $200,000-plus that was paid to the city’s last permanent city manager.
The proposal isn’t perfect, and it’s not a panacea. But it cannot possibly function worse than the system we have now, which has resulted in a city government that’s more interested in the bureaucracy the people pay for than in the people it is supposed to serve.
El Paso County term limit extensions
Vote in favor of three separate referendums that would extend term limits from two four-year terms to three four-year terms for the five county commissioners, the district attorney, the county treasurer, the clerk and recorder, the assessor and the surveyor. The sheriff already has the ability to seek three terms. In general, the board supports limiting terms in order to avoid the proliferation of career politicians, but believes at least three terms are necessary to get the most out of public servants who spend much of their first terms learning to do their jobs well.
Additionally, the board is concerned about strict limits on local officials when federal politicians have no limits at all and gain power through seniority.
City of Colorado Springs TOPS money for park maintenance
Vote yes on this referendum, which would allow no more than 15 percent of revenue from the 0.01 percent city sales tax, which is designated for trails, open space and parks acquisition, to be used for stewardship and maintenance of all city-owned trails, open space and parks for two years.
The board supports this because it’s temporary and would provide badly needed money for parks maintenance, including more watering.
Colorado Springs retention of $600,000
Vote yes on the city government’s request to keep up to $600,000 of revenue above the 2009 property tax revenue spending limit mandated by TABOR.
The money would be used for high-priority road and bridge infrastructure repairs and public safety services that haven’t been possible with the city’s recent budget problems.
While the board believes in the virtue of keeping money in the private sector, this refund would result in credits on utility bills of no more than a couple of dollars.
State Proposition 102, bail bonds
Vote no on this measure, which is designed to create new work and income for bail bond providers.
The measure would amend a system that isn’t broken, and almost the entire criminal justice system in Colorado opposes it.