Ballots will be mailed starting this week, and The Gazette's editorial board urges all voters to conduct independent due diligence. Toward assisting readers in assessing candidates and issues, we present a summary of Gazette endorsements involving ballot measures and candidates we have researched. More endorsements, involving select state legislative races, are planned throughout the week. It is never our intention to tell individuals how they should vote but to make recommendations that result from board discussions and meetings with candidates and subject experts.
University of Colorado Board of Regents
Republican businesswoman Heidi Ganahl and former Democratic state Rep. Alice Madden vie for a seat occupied by term-limited Republican Steve Bosley. Madden expressed staunch opposition to the appointment of CU President Bruce Benson, calling it a "joke." Benson has taken the system from an embarrassing legacy of scandals to today's status as a world-class university emulated by others. Under Benson's leadership, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has flourished, along with the Boulder flagship and the University of Colorado medical school. While Madden's election could initiate a journey to the past, Ganahl represents a continued pursuit of excellence.
3rd Congressional District
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton has been a champion of jobs, businesses, families and energy as an effective representative of Colorado's 3rd Congressional District. His opponent, Gail Schwartz, has spent much of her adult life in two elite Colorado resort towns and voted in the state Legislature for environmental policies that are closing mines and raising energy costs so high average and low-income households struggle to pay them. She is out of touch with the district and has little in common with the majority of residents. Tipton deserves another term.
6th Congressional District
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman plays a disproportionately important role in Colorado Springs and the rest of state. Among Colorado's other eight members of Congress, six are lawyers. None, aside from Coffman, has served in the military. If he were to somehow lose in November, Colorado's representation in Congress would add one special-interest trial attorney. Our vets in Congress would fall to zero. We consider Coffman a super-vet who dropped out of high school at age 17 so he could enlist in the United States Army and earn a diploma while serving. He left active duty to attend the University of Colorado on the GI Bill, continuing his service as an Army reservist. He later transferred from the Army Reserves to the Marine Corps, where he served as an infantry officer. Later, Coffman started a small business and grew it to 20 employees, simultaneously serving in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He was elected twice to the Colorado House of Representatives before taking a leave of absence to volunteer for duty in the first Gulf War. He went on to serve in the state Senate and as state treasurer. He resigned as treasurer because the Marine Corps needed him in Iraq. We could go on with his far-above-average resume, and the selfless service to country it reveals, but we have been most impressed with Coffman's actions in Congress. Before The Gazette won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for a series that detailed unfair discharges of disabled service members - leaving them without VA care and other benefits - Coffman responded by introducing bills to end the practice. We hope 6th Congressional District voters aren't fooled by the slick case of another lawyer seeking Washington power. We hope they retain Coffman's irreplaceable service.
United States Senate
Darryl Glenn has been elected in landslides to the Colorado Springs City Council and the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners for a reason: He is trusted and reliable. Glenn has governed as a pro-business, pro-military, pro-transportation and pro-energy legislator in city and county government, representing hundreds of thousands of constituents. He is a vetted, low-risk public servant who stands to become a key player in Washington.
Glenn opposes overly aggressive environmental mandates that hurt average and lower-income households. He would "repeal and replace" Obamacare. He considers the Iran nuclear deal a dangerous reward for behavior that threatens Israel, the United States and much of the rest of humanity.
Yes: Amendment 72, cigarette tax
Colorado children consume 7 million packs of cigarettes each year. Smoking directly raises health care costs in Colorado by $1.89 billion a year; costs state Medicaid $386.3 million; costs Colorado $1.27 billion in lost annual productivity. Smoking-caused government expenditures raise the annual federal and state tax burden in Colorado by $707 for each household.
Amendment 72 imposes a tax to raise the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1.75. It will, beyond doubt, reduce smoking while raising $315 million annually for programs that address the health and social costs associated with tobacco.
No: Proposition 106, assisted suicide
Out-of-state billionaire George Soros wants to impose this irresponsible law on Colorado as another of his infamous arms-length social experiments. It is a badly written law that will come with unthinkable consequences. Colorado's suicide rate is already too high and rising, especially among teens. This sends the wrong message. But it's worse than that. The law could facilitate impatient heirs in coercing the early deaths of relatives, friends and business partners. It shields from accountability anyone who witnesses a suicide. A similar law in Oregon has greedy insurance companies encouraging suicides to save the costs of treatments and cures. We don't need more suicide, much less a law that allows for almost anything-goes assisted suicide.
Yes: Amendment 71, "Raise the Bar" to protect Colorado's constitution
Colorado's malleable state constitution has made our state a test lab for out-of-state activists with extreme agendas, up to and including more suicide, a "free" government health care plan that will quickly generate $8 billion in public debt and annual threats to energy production and jobs. Amendment 71 would retain the public's option to amend the constitution but guarantee widespread and diverse participation in the process. The amendment would: 1. Require at least 2 percent of signatures petitioning for a constitutional ballot measure come from each of Colorado's 35 state senate districts; and 2. Require 55 percent of the popular vote to pass a constitutional amendment. It would retain the option to change Colorado's statutory laws with a simple majority vote.
No: Amendment 70, $12 minimum wage
Higher pay for low-wage work sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, it is nowhere near that simple. Amendment 70 will eliminate jobs for low-wage workers with nonunion, entry-level jobs. An independent study by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable found the "raise" will reduce overall employment by 90,000 jobs as of 2022. Teenagers will lose 10,500 jobs by 2022. A survey of restaurant owners found 72 percent would reduce employee hours; 71 percent would reduce staffing; and 20 percent would close locations. Voting "yes" on 70 will cause unemployment; voting "no" will protect jobs for the people who need them most.
No: Amendment 69, socialized health care
This out-of-state "free" health care promise is such pie-in-the-sky even some of Colorado's most liberal political organizations oppose it. An independent, nonpartisan study found it would generate an $8 billion deficit in the program's first decade. It would impoverish education and other essential state programs. There ain't no such thing as free health care, and those who promise it are up to no good. Protect Colorado's economy and health by voting "no" on Amendment 69.
Yes: Propositions 107 and 108
Propositions 107 and 108 would modernize Colorado's election system, initiating a more democratic process for choosing presidential and down-ballot candidates.
Prop 107 would restore Colorado's presidential primary, making our state important during primary season. It would take an insider's game, in which small numbers of partisans choose electors to the national conventions, and allow all Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters to participate in choosing presidential nominees.
Prop 108 would open all primaries to the state's 1.3 million unaffiliated voters.
As it stands, party caucuses elect delegates to the respective county and congressional district assemblies and each party's state convention. At the county, state and congressional gatherings, delegates nominate nonpresidential candidates for the state's primary.
Nothing in these measures would eliminate caucuses, assemblies and conventions, where party loyalists would continue putting forth primary candidates to compete against challengers who petition onto the ballot.
If approved, 107 and 108 would result in primary ballots going to more than 1 million of Colorado's active voters who are neither Democrat nor Republican. It is time our state's political parties compete for their support. Our system is broken and can easily be fixed with Propositions 106 and 107. Vote "yes" on both, for better candidates, more participation and improved results.