Colorado gubernatorial candidates Polis and Lopez share their views during campaign visits | AspenTimes.com

Colorado gubernatorial candidates Polis and Lopez share their views during campaign visits

Matthew Bennett
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Gubernatorial candidates Democrat Jared Polis, left, and Republican Greg Lopez visited Glenwood Springs during Memorial Day weekend.

Two gubernatorial candidates brought their campaign trails through Glenwood Springs over the Memorial Day weekend, representing the two major political parties.

Jared Polis, the Democratic congressman who has represented Colorado’s 2nd District since 2009, brought his message of “turning bold ideas into real results” to a Friday evening meet-and-greet at Las Margaritas.

On Saturday afternoon, former Democratic mayor of Parker, Air Force veteran and now Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Lopez shared his philosophy of “bringing a forward vision to Colorado” at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

Polis is in a four-way race for the Democratic nomination in the June 26 primary election, squaring off against current Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy.

On the Republican side, Lopez is running against current state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and businessmen Doug Robinson and Victor Mitchell.

STATE MINIMUM WAGE

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“I think local communities should be able to set the minimum wage above the state minimum wage based on local labor markets and conditions,” Polis said. “The governor should get out of the way of communities deciding their own minimum wage.”

Colorado currently requires an hourly rate of $10.20, $2.95 higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Lopez disagreed.

“I think it’s important for the Legislature to have that discretion as them setting it. I don’t think the local government should have that authority,” he said. “Small businesses are the ones that create the economic vitality of the community. You’ve got to be careful, because if you raise the minimum wage, you’re basically hurting those individuals that you really want to help.”

SELLING PUBLIC LANDS

The Post Independent asked each candidate whether they would sell or lease public lands as governor.

“I’d have to look at every individual project individually,” Lopez said. “Under the right situations and the right circumstances, yes.”

Polis said, “I will oppose that. I oppose selling off of public lands.”

IMMIGRATION

Polis shared his thoughts on immigration:

“Make sure that schools are safe zones, contrary to [U.S. Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos’ recent argument that our broken immigration laws should be enforced in schools. We need to do a better job on driver’s licenses and promoting an inclusive statewide tone to protect all of our marginalized communities,” he said.

The PI asked Lopez if he would protect undocumented students attending Colorado public schools. The former mayor replied, “Protect them from what?”

“I support legal immigration, not illegal immigration.” Lopez said. “It’s interesting that you talk about illegal students, what about just regular students, you know? Because we need to treat everybody equally.”

SECOND AMENDMENT

Lopez said he would not ban assault weapons as governor.

“When people talk about assault weapons, they’re not talking about the actual gun, they’re talking about how it’s being utilized, right? And so, for me it’s never the weapon that’s causing the harm, it’s the person behind the weapon. … It’s like asking me, ‘Hey, we have obesity in the state, would you ban forks and spoons?'”

Lopez said he had no idea what rating the National Rifle Association might assign him. Polis, however, knew the organization’s stance.

“I have an F rating from the NRA, and I’ve stood up to the gun manufacturing lobby. This is a discussion that we should’ve had long ago about reasonable commonsense gun safety measures,” Polis said. “There are no candidates that are running for governor that have supported assault weapons bans in the early 2000s or 20-teens because we were focused on magazine limits, universal background checks. I am now the only candidate running for governor to co-sponsor or sponsor an assault weapons ban.”

HIGHER EDUCATION

Polis recently introduced the Students Over Special Interests Act. The bill would “repeal the Republican tax plan and its $1.9 trillion in corporate and special interest giveaways,” according to polis.house.gov.

Polis said, “The magnitude of what they gave away to special interests could’ve erased college debt in this country. That’s how big it was.”

Lopez also shared his philosophy: “I do not believe student loans should be forgiven, and the reason I don’t believe that is because that student made an individual decision on whether they were going to accept that loan or not.

“To remove or waive an obligation, it costs the entire community when you try to do that. Nothing is free,” Lopez said.

Ballots for both the Republican and Democratic primaries are to be mailed out the week of June 4 and are to be completed and returned by June 26. This year, unaffiliated voters will be allowed to cast either a Democrat or Republican ballot while remaining unaffiliated.

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