-Aspen Times Editorial: Schwartz for Congress | AspenTimes.com

-Aspen Times Editorial: Schwartz for Congress

In the race for the 3rd Congressional District, we think former Aspen and Snowmass resident Gail Schwartz has proven herself as an effective legislator while serving in the state Senate from 2007 to 2015.

The Crested Butte resident often worked across to aisle to get things done. As a self-described centrist, we think her bipartisan efforts would be a refreshing addition to a Congress that has a track record of failing to work together. Scott Tipton, the incumbent seeking a fourth term, has passed just four bills in six years. We think Schwartz’s criticism of his record holds water, and we agree that he’s part of the so-called “do-nothing” Congress.

When Schwartz discusses the issues facing the district, specifically job losses on the Western Slope due to coal production declines, she talks about innovation. She doesn’t think it’s fair to give coal workers false hope that their jobs are coming back — instead, she has ideas for ways to train them for new opportunities in broadband and clean energy.

She blames free-market forces for the loss of coal-industry jobs across the Western Slope, while Tipton points to renewable energy legislation she helped pass as a state senator as one of the driving forces behind the declines. We think Schwartz’s position that the free market is entirely responsible is a bit disingenuous, but we like her ideas on how to bring jobs back to those regions. Tipton has led innovative ideas in the district, too. His hydropower bill in 2011, for example, reduced government red tape in order to create jobs and expand clean energy projects such as a hydroelectric plant near Montrose.

In The Denver Post’s endorsement of Tipton last month, the editorial board noted his “enlightened conservative balance between preserving the environment and public lands and also recognizing the importance of opening up some lands for oil and gas extraction.”

Oil and gas extraction is something important to the constituents in the Roaring Fork Valley, specifically relating to Thompson Divide. Tipton has said he doesn’t want oil and gas resources in the region to be locked up in perpetuity, and that the approach to swap Thompson Divide leases could create opportunities in other parts of the 3rd District where energy development is welcomed.

Schwartz takes more of an environmentalist approach, which might not represent the rest of the 3rd District as well as it represents constituents from Carbondale to Aspen. While she claims there’s an achievable balance of preservation and natural resource extraction, she stands firm in her position that wildlife impacts and other environmental concerns are extremely important, which is in line with the beliefs of many constituents in this valley.

We agree with the Grand Junction Sentinel, which endorsed Schwartz, that Schwartz’s portrayal of Tipton as an enemy of public lands is unfair and exaggerated. She maintains that she’s the better choice when it comes to recreation and conservation on public lands, but that remains to be seen.

In a diverse district that encompasses 29 counties and more than 54,000 square miles, it’s hard to find a candidate that represents all constituents equally. We feel Tipton has done a better job representing other parts of the district, while Schwartz’s moderate approach would better represent this part of the district.

The Aspen Times editorial board consists of Publisher Samantha Johnston, Editor Lauren Glendenning, Managing Editor Rick Carroll and community members Bob Braudis and Kathryn Koch.

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