Three candidates are in the running for the Colorado State House District 16 race in central Colorado Springs.

Republican Andres Pico, Democrat Stephanie Vigil and Libertarian John Hjersman are competing for the spot to succeed Larry Liston.

Pico, a retired naval flight officer, former defense contractor and current Colorado Springs City Councilman, said he hopes to bring his experience to Denver to help expand the economy and help Coloradans get back to work.

“People’s livelihoods are on the line. The longer people are unable to get to work or can’t get a full production, it is impacting people an awful lot,” Pico said. “We need to get back to work, but we also need to do it safely.”

His two terms on the City Council, paired with work experience as a defense contractor, has given him insight as to how local governments and private businesses work, he said.

“What happens in the Legislature impacts business and local jurisdictions in ways that the people in the Legislature don’t understand and it is very detrimental sometimes,” he said.

Pico said he hopes to develop water infrastructure, protect Colorado water rights and protect energy development.

Vigil said she is running to help protect the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in the district. She called health care a “human right” and believes in full reproductive freedom, including free birth control, comprehensive sex education and women’s right to abortion.

Vigil, who was formerly disabled and suffered mental health crises as a result of an abusive relationship, said she is eager to take her life experiences to the state house and “prevent others from falling off the edge.”

If elected, the Democratic candidate said she plans to work with local governments and developers so that more people have access to housing that they can afford in an area where they live and work.

Vigil described herself as an “unabashed Black Lives Matter activist” and said she is looking forward to addressing racism at a state level.

John Hjersman, a retired engineer and a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, is running for the second time.

“My top priority would be to stand for individual liberty and make sure that all of the well-intentioned legislation that is proposed doesn’t have a lot of unattended consequences that is going to negatively impact people’s lives,” Hjersman said.

Aside from being treasurer for the Libertarian Party, he said he does not have political experience. Even so, he said voters should support his political values.

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