John Colson: Why I’m voting for Paula, Jean and Diane
June 11, 2018
It's primary election season in Colorado (the actual primary date is June 26, though most voters are likely to mail in their ballots between today and then), and we've got plenty of candidates to choose from to fill seats at various levels of government.
For now, I'll concentrate on just three of them.
In Garfield County, where I live, I'm voting for two candidates who happen to be unopposed in the primary, but not for the general election Nov. 6 — Paula Stepp for the District 1 seat in the county board of commissioners and Jean Alberico for county clerk and recorder.
For county commissioner, I will fill in the little square next to Stepp's name, and happily.
She is running to unseat commissioner Tom Jankovsky, a Republican whose tenure has largely been marked by his willingness to go along with whatever Commission Chairman John Martin (also a Republican) says and does (with a few notable exceptions when they disagreed).
Jankovsky has shown a marked preference for bestowing benefits and attention on people and institutions in the western part of the county rather than on potential recipients in or around Carbondale (the town I live in).
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In one controversy at our end of the county, however, Jankovsky did his best to help the Colorado Rocky Mountain School outside Carbondale in its attempt to close County Road 106 as it passes through the CRMS campus. He did this despite objections from the town of Carbondale and neighbors of the campus, who wanted the road left open to the public.
This was one of the times in which Jankovsky and Martin openly disagreed, though it was done on the friendliest of terms between them.
The fact that his child attended CRMS, I am sure, had nothing whatever to do with Jankovsky's reasoning.
Stepp, a Democrat, has given every indication that she views the commisioner's job as representing the county as a whole, as opposed to the apparent view on the part of the current board incumbents that things would be better if Carbondale were not part of Garfield County at all.
She is more questioning — skeptical, even — about whether the ongoing natural gas-drilling boom in western Garfield County is good for the county in anything other than financial terms, and would look harder at claims from the industry that they are good environmental stewards and protectors of public health despite evidence to the contrary.
Alberico has held the county clerk's job for more than a decade, and soon will finish her third four-year term. During that time she has shown herself to be highly competent, honest and open, and not interested in partisan squabbling in any way.
To be sure, she has weathered some scandals during her tenure, when three employees were caught stealing the public's money.
But she can't be blamed for someone else's dishonesty, and has dealt with those matters in an open, forthright way. Some (mostly partisan critics) have claimed these incidents showed her as over-trusting and not mindful enough of her subordinates' actions, but that's hogwash.
After dealing with two of the three cases of employee embezzlement, she brought in a forensic accountant who uncovered the third case, which I thought was good management on her part.
In the race to represent the 3rd Congressional District, which covers most of the Western Slope of Colorado, Diane Mitch Bush, also a Democrat, gets my vote to unseat Republican incumbent Scott Tipton.
Mitch Bush, in recent public appearances and in written statements, has shown she is whip smart and understands the issues in ways Tipton never has.
For example, she was asked recently about what she would do about federal "entitlement" programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which are targets of Republican animosity (including Tipton's).
She instantly responded that those programs are mislabeled as "entitlements" and should be called what they are — contractual arrangements between citizens and the government, into which the citizens have been paying for all of their working adult lives, and which must be honored and fully funded.
When asked at a recent event for her ideas about industrial hemp (the non-intoxicating cousin of the marijuana plant) as an agricultural product, she happily launched into a fervent endorsement of hemp as a needed boon to the state's ag industry, one that is environmentally more sustainable and that can provide everything from paper to therapeutic oils to building materials and more, at vastly lower costs and impacts than the current sources of such products.
Tipton, on the other hand, has spent his congressional career keeping his head down, offering only the safest kinds of legislation he could come up with to avoid any controversy, and reliably supporting every hair-brained scheme of his Republican leaders and, most recently, President Donald Trump's ongoing war to undermine the government in general and undo the accomplishments of former President Barack Obama at all costs.
It's time for Tipton to move on.
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