Editor’s note: Thank you for reading and contemplating The Gazette editorial board’s election endorsements. These result from board members researching campaign material, news articles, social media, and meeting with select candidates. Voting is a personal decision, and we offer these endorsements only as our suggestions. We encourage voters to use this compilation as part of a process to inform themselves about these important decisions. Study the candidates and issues, grab a cup of Joe, and fill out those ballots.
United States Senate
Cory Gardner (R)
John Hickenlooper (D)
This is the most important choice on the 2020 ballot. Democrats have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to take out Gardner, among the five most productive and bipartisan members of Congress, in hopes of taking majority control of the Senate.
Democrats want to replace Gardner with former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a man who sees the job as a consolation prize after gaining no traction in his presidential primary race. Gardner, among the youngest members of the Senate, has delivered more good legislation for Colorado in the past six years than all nine of the rest of Colorado’s delegation combined.
Ejecting Gardner from the Senate is an act of political suicide, call it state-icide, that could cost Colorado dearly. If voters make that mistake, they might cost Colorado its likely selection to serve as the permanent home of Space Command.
It would cost Colorado the largest chunk of what relatively little influence its congressional delegation has in Washington.
Hickenlooper, who last year said “I’m not cut out to be a senator,” would never achieve A-list stature in Washington. Entering the Senate as a freshman in his 70s, he would approach his 80s before seeking a second term.
Colorado has only one marquee politician in Washington, and his name is Cory Gardner — a man who has delivered for Colorado’s public lands, environment, and public health and welfare. Keep Colorado relevant in Washington by reelecting Cory Gardner.
U.S. House District 5
Doug Lamborn (R)
Jillian Freeland (D)
Rep. Doug Lamborn, along with Sen. Cory Gardner, has played a major role in securing Colorado Springs as the most likely permanent home of Space Command. A vote against Gardner is one that tells the Pentagon we don’t want Space Command or the level of serious congressional support for the military Lamborn has consistently stood for.
As a seasoned and ranking member of the House, Lamborn is able to deliver for the Pikes Peak region and the rest of Colorado on everything from VA benefits, to public lands, to transportation, to safe and productive energy policy.
His Democratic opponent, Jillian Freeland, opposes religious liberty and appears confused about the role of Space Command. On every issue, she comes across as a left-wing extremist with a radical agenda to fundamentally change the United States.
Vote for Doug Lamborn. It is a vote in favor of Space Command and Colorado’s continued run of success.
U.S. House District 3
Lauren Boebert (R)
Diane Mitsch Bush (D)
Young Republican candidates with the full package of intelligence, looks, passion, and skills to articulate good principles seldom come along. Voters in Congressional District 3 have the opportunity to elect a mom, business leader and impassioned champion of Colorado and the United States to the House of Representatives.
In the big league of Congress, Boebert could lead a national, youthful, patriotic, pro-capitalist movement to rival the fashionable left-wing narrative that tells young Americans their country is evil.
While left-wing feminist leaders cast women as victims, Boebert looms large as a 100-pound symbol of female empowerment. Women can start with nothing and have big families, provide for them, and defend them.
In a meeting with The Gazette’s editorial board, Boebert exuded an unequivocal devotion to freedom, free markets, compassion for others, and the joy of discovering self-sufficiency.
Boebert’s belief in capitalism, freedom and the old-fashioned American way developed after a childhood of poverty, welfare, and an assortment of government assistance. Boebert moved with her family to Rifle as a teenager. There, she landed a job at McDonald’s and discovered the thrill of money that was earned.
Boebert’s Democratic opponent, Diane Mitsch Bush, represents the antithesis of western, rural Colorado values. A retired sociology professor and far-left Democrat, Mitsch Bush has supported nearly every regulatory attack on oil, gas and coal producers who provide high-wage jobs and tax revenues throughout her district. Organizations hostile to the Second Amendment have endorsed Mitsch Bush in past campaigns.
Mitsch Bush would begin her congressional career one month shy of turning 71. By no fault of her own, she would approach her 80s before acquiring the committee assignments and level of seniority Colorado needs to improve a relatively weak delegation in Congress.
Entering Congress at age 34, colleagues would view Boebert as a star of the near future to invest in today. She would likely win coveted committee assignments while standing out nationally as an energetic new symbol of what people can do in a country that stands for justice, prosperity, personal empowerment, and freedom for all above all.
Vote for Lauren Boebert and empower the kind of inspiring, high-quality candidate that seldom comes along.
State House District 17
Tony Exum (D)
Robert Blancken (R)
It is hard not to like nearly everything we hear about Robert Blancken, a Republican who’s challenging retired Colorado Springs Fire Department battalion chief and Democratic incumbent Tony Exum Sr., in the state House District 17 race.
Blancken described himself to The Gazette as a far-right Republican who supports school choice, improved access to mental health care, developing the district’s economy and ensuring the district gets its fair share of infrastructure investment. That makes a strong platform, but not one substantially different than what Exum stands for.
As much as we like Blancken, his reason for running fails to inspire.
“You cannot allow any seat to go unchallenged,” he said. Not exactly “I want to change the world” or even “fix broken government.”
Exum has a long tenure, including his professional career, of serving the public. We don’t agree with a lot of his standard-fare liberal Democratic philosophy, but he is a seasoned legislator with benefits of seniority who is able to deliver for Colorado Springs. He’s pro-education and understands the need for fiscal restraint. We applaud Blancken for running but advise voters to keep Tony Exum in office.
El Paso County Commission District 3
￼Stan VanderWerf (R)
Ken Schauer (D)
Commissioner Stan VanderWerf is a retired Air Force officer of 28 years who worked as chief scientist at the federal government’s NORAD and Northcom combatant commands in Colorado Springs. In a world ravaged by COVID-19, we have never had more need for scientists in government. He is also a former intelligence officer who brings four-dimensional thinking to the county government.
For the past four years, VanderWerf has shown himself to be that unusual public servant who lives for the job and gets results for the community. He helps people get jobs and has saved thousands of businesses by fighting for closure variances and hardship grants. He governs like a pragmatic leader, not a doctrinaire politician.
His union leader opponent aligns himself with the far-left anti-law-enforcement social revolutionary movement. He boasts of an endorsement from Our Revolution, a socialist organization that advocates Medicare for All, the $93 trillion Green New Deal, compulsory union membership, cancellation of all student debt, free college and an end to all deportations.
Several of Schauer’s recent social media posts exude hostility toward law enforcement.
We don’t want or need a left-wing ideologue to replace a boots-on-the-ground veteran working day and night to get practical results for the people of El Paso County. District 3 voters should be proud to keep VanderWerf in service.
State Proposition 113:
A “yes” vote upholds the Legislature’s irresponsible decision to give away all nine of Colorado’s Electoral College votes in presidential elections. A “no” vote preserves Colorado’s votes and its autonomy as a state.
The multimillion-dollar “yes” on 113 campaign was financed almost entirely by multimillionaire left-wing activists in California who would like to own Colorado. This may be among the more insane questions to ever hit the ballot. California wants Colorado to willfully surrender the will of its voters to large coastal states with disproportionate influence in the popular vote. Anyone who loves Colorado — whether on the right, left or somewhere in the center — will vote “no” on Prop 113.
State Proposition 114
Proposition 114 on the fall ballot would require the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife to create a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves on designated lands west of the Continental Divide by the end of 2023.
Critics rightly foresee devastation to the state’s elk, moose and deer herds to say nothing of the collateral damage to livestock and the threat to humans.
We have a Division of Parks and Wildlife, staffed with experts whose lifetime work is to study the state’s many species and draw conclusions on matters like reintroduction. Prop. 114 usurps and undermines that process, turning a complex consideration into feel-good politics — with potentially disastrous results. Authoritative critics of 114 include wildlife biologists and the former chief of the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Just say “no” to ballot-box biology by voting “no” on Prop 114.
State Proposition 115
There is common ground even on as divisive an issue as abortion. Plenty of medical science supports the case for reasonable limits on abortion — limits that sync with the sensibilities of many voters across the political and religious spectrum.
Which helps explain why Coloradans with wide-ranging political as well as personal views set aside their differences over abortion a number of years ago to enact a parental-notice law. It only made sense.
Another chance to find common ground on abortion policy appears on this fall’s statewide ballot as Proposition 115. It would end late-terms abortions — pregnancies terminated after 22 weeks — when unborn babies are regarded as substantially formed and biologically viable. The proposal allows an exception if the birth mother’s life is in danger.
Babies can be born and survive after 22 weeks. It’s simple science. Yet, Colorado is one of a handful of states with no cutoff for abortions performed on adult mothers. We urge a “yes” vote on this sensible and needed reform.
State Proposition 117
State politicians figured out long ago that if you call something a fee instead of a tax, you can end-run Colorado’s constitution — specifically, its voter-enacted provision known as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. The amendment, adopted by the electorate in 1992, requires policymakers to get voter approval before raising taxes. But if a state or local government can claim a program supports itself through fees paid by users, rather than by taxes, the revenue generated by the program won’t count against annual limits imposed on tax revenue by TABOR.
Proposition 117 would rein in this fast-and-loose approach to the public’s purse strings. It would require any new state enterprise that brings in over $100 million in fees during its first five years to go to a vote of the people. The proposal applies only to new state enterprises so that local governments would be unaffected; existing enterprises would be held harmless, too.
Stop taxpayer abuse. Vote “yes” on Prop 117.
State Amendment 76
Amendment 76 asks a simple question:
“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution requiring that to be qualified to vote at any election an individual must be a United States citizen?”
If passed, the measure would change a portion of the state constitution that says “Every citizen of the United States” who meets age and state residency requirements gets to vote in Colorado elections. Instead of “Every citizen” the amended passage would limit voting to “Only a citizen…”
It is amazing this question exists. Voting should be a privilege belonging only to those born to this country or naturalized by proving loyalty to the uniting values and principles that make it a nation. Citizenship is membership. Only members, fully vested in the country and beholden to no others, should vote in elections. Vote “yes” on Amendment 76.
State Proposition EE
Prop EE asks to increase taxes by $294 million annually “by imposing a tax on nicotine liquids used in e-cigarettes and other vaping products…” The tax, when fully phased in, would be equal the state tax on tobacco products.
New revenues would fund public schools “to help offset revenue that has been lost as a result of the economic impacts related to COVID-19 and then for programs that reduce the use of tobacco and nicotine products, enhance the voluntary Colorado preschool program and make it widely available for free, and maintain the funding for programs that currently receive revenue from tobacco taxes.”
Prop EE would incrementally raise the tax on tobacco products by up to 22% of a manufacturer’s list price. It would hike the cigarette tax by up to 9-cents per cigarette and would establish a minimum tax for snuff products.
Nicotine addiction is a drain on this country and a threat to public health. We want less of nicotine and therefore should tax it like any dangerous product that harms our country and economy. Vote “yes” on Prop EE. Vote yes to make nicotine a cost-prohibitive addiction.
State Amendment 77
Amendment 77 on November’s ballot asks voters to change Colorado statutes and the state Constitution to authorize voters in Cripple Creek, Central City and Black Hawk to raise gaming stakes from their restriction of $100 to “any amount.” If they do so, Colorado’s low-stakes, all-in-good-fun gambling will become the type of industry that can ruin individuals and families in a single night.
Keep Colorado casinos fun and relatively harmless, while preserving what is left of Colorado’s fading reputation as a place of good health and wholesome outdoor recreation. Reject high-stakes gambling by voting “no” on Amendment 77.
State Proposition 116
The ballot question is simple: “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes reducing the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%?”
That’s like asking “do we want the sun to rise and the grass to grow?”
Working Coloradans remain mired in the challenges of the COVID-19 economy. To get through it, state, federal and local governments have offered all assortment of assistance. They have issued mandates suspending rents and forbidding evictions. They have eased restrictions on tapping into 401K funds and other investments. The federal government and states have streamlined small-business loans and sent checks to consumers, whether or not they’ve lost income as a result of COVID-19. Schoolchildren will eat free from October through December and possibly beyond.
There can be no more swift, fair and efficient vehicle than tax relief for economic aid. By reducing income taxes, even by a slight margin, people keep more of what they earn. That, as opposed to sending what they earn to a government that must process the money into packaged aid and send it back as recovery funds.
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis appears to support 116. We asked for a statement of support, and he texted “Sure.” Then: “an income tax cut is broad-based relief and not only helps families get by in a challenging time but also helps our economy grow.”
Exactly right. Prop 116 empowers taxpayers to keep more of what they earn at a time when too many Coloradans struggle just to keep the bills paid, roofs over their heads and food on the table. Help Coloradans through the pandemic by voting “yes” on Prop 116.
State Amendment B
Amendment B would repeal the Gallagher Amendment in a spirited attempt to shift the residential-business paradigm and ease some of the business community’s property tax pain.
Unfortunately, the well-intended proposal overcorrects. It risks channeling too much of that pain back to homeowners in the long run as it sooner or later will result in higher property tax bills for them. That’s why we have to urge a “no” vote on B — even as we appreciate how the amendment, placed on the ballot by the Legislature last spring, addresses a very real and serious problem confronting all Coloradans.
One of those problems involve the revenues at risk to fire districts throughout the state that serve predominantly residential areas that don’t generate an ample supply of revenues from businesses.
Though we oppose the sledgehammer of a statewide repeal of Gallagher, we strongly urge voters to approve local ballot requests for exemptions to Gallagher, including multiple fire districts throughout the state.
It’s worth remembering that a greater tax burden on business eventually is passed on to all of us in higher costs and fewer jobs. For decades, Colorado businesses have chafed under Gallagher as homeowners have reveled in it. The measure’s purported intent at the time of its adoption was to keep homeowners from picking up the tab for property tax breaks to various industries.
It wound up going further than that, shifting ever more of the state’s total property tax load onto businesses. That is because Gallagher also stipulated that Colorado residential property could make up no more than 45% of the total statewide property tax base, with nonresident property — notably business and agricultural — accounting for the balance.
There has to be a better way to ease the burden on businesses than to pit them against Colorado’s homeowners statewide.
For starters, why not consider cutting or eliminating Colorado’s business personal property tax? A dozen states don’t assess business personal property at all. Some other states have lower business personal property taxes than does Colorado.
Gallagher presents real problems advocates of Amendment B want to solve. But overturning the amendment goes too far and jeopardizes Colorado’s appeal for low property taxes that help keep people in their homes during troubling times. Consider voting “yes” on local repeals of Gallagher, but vote “no” on Amendment B.
Colorado Springs 2A
Passage of 2A allows the city government to retain $1.9 million in refunds owed to taxpayers under a formula in the state Constitution’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. That money would go toward public safety, including the hiring of 120 cops. It would also set the city’s 2021 TABOR revenue cap at the 2019 level, to avoid suffocating local government with an artificially low 2020 cap reduced by the pandemic recession.
In a future post-pandemic, post-rioting, post-anti-cop world, Colorado Springs should tower as the sober and shining city on a hill that did not self-destruct and embrace chaos. To achieve this, we must support our police, and enhance their morale, by funding public safety. Doing so won’t require a tax increase. We need only vote “yes” on 2A to keep our community stable and safe.
Colorado Springs 2B
Passage of 2B would force city officials to put to a citywide vote any sale, trade, or other conveyance of parkland to a private purchaser or trader. In doing so, it would overhaul a process of representative governance that has helped Colorado Springs emerge as a city of great parks over nearly 150 years.
Property transactions require buyer and seller, or trader and trader, to make nuanced and timely decisions. Often the city finds itself able to get exactly what it needs because it can trade for something another party needs in a timely fashion. The value of a property might go down by half if a delay in the transaction runs into a recession.
Mutually beneficial transactions require nimble flexibility on both sides. Timing is always a key factor. Subjecting every trade and transaction to an election on the horizon would prevent the city from trades and acquisitions that take advantage of the moment — the kinds of deals that have grown our parkland assets strategically. Save a park system that works from a careless and wanton law that would tie the city’s hands. Vote “no” on 2B.
Colorado Springs 2C
Question 2C would amend the City Charter to require a supermajority approval by the council for a transaction involving the conveyance of city property to a private party. It’s a perfect compromise to address the concerns of well-intentioned proponents of 2B, a dangerous measure that goes too far. Passage of 2C would require the approval of seven of nine council members, not just five, for any sale or trade of parkland to go forward.
Vote for Prop C to make a good park system great.
Fire District preservation measures
The Gazette recommends opposing state Amendment B, which would remove the Gallagher Amendment from the state constitution. We just as strongly recommend people in tax districts that are primarily residential vote “yes” on requests from special taxing districts, primarily fire districts, to maintain current revenues — without raising taxes — as Gallagher reduces assessments on residential properties.
If these measures fail, residents in each of these districts face the certainty of less fire protection, fewer firefighters and emergency medical technicians, slower response times, and even the potential closure of stations.
In metropolitan Colorado Springs, these reasonable requests are made by The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, the Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District, and The Calhan Fire Protection District.
Local fire departments face certain financial conditions that will jeopardize property and lives, simply because of complications with a law designed to protect homeowners from excessive taxation.
Save property and lives by voting “yes” on all local requests for exemptions for the Gallagher Amendment. It will save fire departments without raising taxes.