(The following appeared in the October 17, 2010 Longmont Times-Call under the title “Two state House candidates clear on tax-and-spend priorities“)
I’m sure the “tax and spend” label put on Democrats is one they are tired of hearing, so I’ll amend it slightly: “spend, a lot, then in the name of a fiscal emergency tax, a lot”. Not that Republicans get off scot-free here, they spent too much as well and they were dealt with accordingly. In other words, they were acting just like Democrats, and the voters showed their displeasure.
Other than the self-loathing amongst us, I doubt that many feel under taxed. When citizens don’t have the luxury of opening up a revenue stream, like collecting taxes, they make cuts to their spending. But not the typical Democrat politicians that are running for State House Districts 11 and 12. They even said as much at the Northern Colorado Debate on September 30th.
Deb Gardner is running for District 11, the current seat of fellow Democrat and campaign finance law-challenged Jack Pommer. In her opening statement, she said “I think we are all trying to do more with less, and our expectations that our government would do the same thing.” That turned out to be a promising yet misleading start. The first question was about paying for the states transportation needs. Without hesitation her answer was to approve a sales tax increase for FasTracks. Keep in mind, this district includes the spur that would go from Boulder to Longmont. We have been paying this tax already and odds are this spur will be the first cut from the overall FasTracks plan. And she wants to increase it. Shockingly out of touch.
Next was a question about balancing the state budget. Ms. Gardner’s answer “We can always increase revenue…”, in other words, raise taxes. And whenever you hear a politician use the words “invest” or “investment”, watch out, it means taxes. Case in point: Ms. Gardner quoted Boulder County Treasurer, and fellow Democrat, Bob Hullinghorst who said “Taxes are an investment in our future”. “Our” presumably meaning “us Democrats”. She then said “we need to invest in our infrastructure” and we should “find a way to invest more money in our education system”. They’re talking about your money, not theirs. Keeping in mind how well they’ve spent your money while in total control of state and federal government for the last few years. So the choice is a longtime political operative like Boulder County Democrat Chair Deb Gardner, or non-politician and newcomer Republican Wes Whiteley. I’ll take the latter.
Matt Jones is running for District 12, the current seat of fellow Democrat and House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann. While I don’t always agree with Mr. Weissmann on every vote, or with any politician for that matter, he has been a fair and responsive elected official. I have had direct communications with him on specific issues and have not been disappointed. As Mr. Jones campaign co-chair, Mr. Weissmann is on the list of people who have endorsed him. One look at that list, which is on his website, and you’ll see some of the worst players in the county. Names like Udall, Pearlman, Domenico, Stewart, Benker, and McCoy.
While Mr. Jones has an interesting life story – with former state representative experience and surviving two cancers – he was not impressive at the Longmont event. On the question of attracting and retaining businesses, Mr. Jones said he wants to take programs like ClimateSmart statewide. Voters in this county, which includes his district, voted this down as recently as last year’s election. Did he miss that, or would he just circumvent the people’s will? When asked about the state’s transportation needs, similar to Ms. Gardner he said FasTracks was the answer. In an odd turn of events, he got confused and claimed he was skipped for a previous question. He wasn’t, he just chose to answer the question about the state’s budget by asking his opponents to take a stand on Amendments 60, 61, and 101. How he could so easily forget this after a member of the audience called him out on it, who had to be quieted by the moderator, is confusing in itself. As I said, not impressive, and I was willing to give him a chance – or at least a pass.
The Libertarian candidate in this race is Bo Shaffer, who I always enjoy listening to and have thrown a vote toward in the past. He said Libertarians are “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”. So Democrats who can’t bring themselves to vote for Republican Jeff Ilseman, who did very well at the Longmont event, have an alternative with Mr. Shaffer. We need more fiscally conservative types in office; Deb Gardner and Matt Jones have made it clear they are anything but that.