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Photo by Liz Henderson.

The planet may be in peril — as the title of a candidates forum on climate change warned — but that wasn’t enough to get the two headliners in the U.S. Senate race to come to Colorado Springs on Sunday.

The absence of the incumbent, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, and Democratic former Gov. John Hickenlooper, didn’t go unnoticed at the Ent Center for the Performing Arts.

More than 100 people carrying “Agree” and “Disagree” signs came to hear Senate hopefuls’ views on climate change and their solutions during the Planet in Peril forum.

Eight Democrats, Angela Williams, Trish Zornio, Andrew Romanoff, Diana Bray, Lorena Garcia, Michelle Ferrigno Warren, Alice Madden and Stephany Rose Spaulding, and two Unity Party candidates, Joshua Rodriguez and Gary Swing, shared their positions with the audience.

Attendees showed their displeasure with Hickenlooper, who entered the Senate race after dropping out of the Democratic scrum for president, by chanting, “Where is Hick?”

One sign read, “Hey Hiding Hick, our future is at stake!” The Sunrise Movement of Colorado, one of the forum sponsors, said in a tweet that it was disappointed Gardner chose not to attend.

The forum, sponsored by environmental and progressive organizations, focused on addressing climate change through eliminating fracking, reforestation, fostering biodiversity and renewable resources and protecting groundwater.

All of the candidates agreed on the need for immediate climate change action — most used their rebuttal minute to agree with previous speakers. Some rebuked the Trump administration for retreating on environmental protections.

“We can lead by example ...,” said Romanoff, a former state House speaker. “It’s very tough for us to exercise leadership under this administration around the world, when, instead, you’ve got a president who never met a tree he couldn’t chop.”

Candidates discussed carbon sequestration, reducing greenhouse gases and training the American workforce to transition to renewable energy jobs.

“We can’t lead from behind, and that’s where we are ...,” said Madden, a former state House majority leader. “We’re going to restore democracy and we’re going to be able to lead the rest of the world. You have to walk the walk yourself. You can’t tell other countries to do this if you’re not going to do it yourself.”

“This is a defining moment for us as a country,” Garcia, a community activist, agreed.

Multimedia Journalist

Liz is a multimedia journalist with a specific interest in space exploration and environment. She watches way too much Star Trek and is working toward her rescue scuba divers certification. Liz joined the Gazette staff in 2019.

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