Gubernatorial candidate outlines his vision |

Gubernatorial candidate outlines his vision

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs correspondent
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez said Wednesday that if he’s elected he would lead a coalition of governors in the region to push Congress for true immigration reform.He believes such reform would involve better securing borders and enabling employers to accurately verify workers’ legal status. It also would ensure that labor force needs are met through a system where immigrants have a sponsoring employee and pass a criminal background check and health screening, Beauprez said in an interview at the Post Independent as part of a Western Slope campaign tour.Reform also should require that people here illegally leave the country and apply for legal entry, he said.”I think they’re going to have to go home, go through the process and go back. Anything less than that is going to be seen as amnesty,” Beauprez said.

Beauprez’s comments came as Gov. Bill Owens signed new immigration reforms into law in Colorado this week. A Republican now serving in U.S. House of Representatives, Beauprez is running against Democrat Bill Ritter to replace Owens.Beauprez characterized Colorado’s new immigration rules as small steps toward reform, contending that they essentially require employers to do nothing more than they do now to try to authenticate the legal status of workers. But he added that he also has been “very, very frustrated” by the lack of action on the issue at the federal level.”I don’t think Congress, I don’t think we’re going to get our act together,” he said. “That’s one of the continuing frustrations of being in the federal government – change doesn’t happen very fast.”But he said states have failed to apply much pressure on Congress to do something about illegal immigration.”We have not heard from governors almost at all until recently, and we don’t see them,” he said.

Beauprez on Wednesday also addressed matters surrounding burgeoning energy development in western Colorado. With energy prices rising, there’s a need to develop energy resources where they exist, he said. But he said it’s important to listen to the concerns of people living in areas of such development.Beauprez believes this has occurred in the case of the management plan being developed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for the Roan Plateau near Rifle, where companies want to drill on top for natural gas and some local residents and governments are worried about the environmental impacts.”I hope that when we see a record of decision it reflects that kind of local input,” he said.Similarly, with plans on the horizon for reviving the region’s oil shale industry, it’s important to get “input from the local folks who are probably going to raise the right issues and say, ‘What about this?'” Beauprez said.

Beauprez said he hasn’t taken a close look at a proposed ballot initiative that seeks to address conflicts between owners of land and underground resources such as natural gas. But he said that it’s the kind of issue he’d rather see addressed in the legislature to help make sure the solution is a balanced one.Attempts to pass so-called surface use bills have met with failure to date in the legislature. However, Beauprez believes success can occur if all affected parties sit down together to work out their differences.Beauprez believes such efforts to seek collaborative solutions have marked the leadership style of Russell George of Rifle, a fellow Republican who heads the Department of Natural Resources under Owens. Beauprez said he would love to keep George in that job if he becomes governor, but the two haven’t had serious discussions about the matter.”Russ says ‘go win this thing and then we’ll talk,'” Beauprez said.He added that he worries that George “will say he’s had all the fun he can take.”