The election is less than a month away, so it’s time to start wading through the ballot and educating ourselves on the people and issues we’ll be privileged enough to vote on. I’ve been researching the candidates and ballot initiatives for some time now and I’ve finally arrived at some conclusions.
I enjoy writing about politics and hope that, in some small way, the following paragraphs help swing some votes to what I consider to be the “right” side of the issues. However, I now must respectfully request that you don’t believe a single word I write.
It’s not that I’m a liar or intend to mislead you, but I think it’s critically important for voters to understand that they shouldn’t believe something just because they read it in print, hear it on the radio or see it on television. In this era of spin, misinformation and outright lies coming out of campaigns on both sides of the aisle — and political party operatives masquerading as “journalists” on major networks and in print news outlets — the best advice I can give is to trust no one and verify everything for yourself.
The Internet is home to an amazing array of in-depth information on all the people and issues important to this election. I’m including links below to resources that provide more support for my point of view. There are many others that present opposing views, and you should look at them all so you can make informed decisions.
I’m endorsing Sal Pace (www.paceforcolorado.com ) for the U.S. House of Representatives for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. I’ve been very frustrated over the last few years with the obstructionist nature of the Republican majority in the do-nothing House, and current Republican/tea party Rep. Scott Tipton has been a big part of that problem. He voted with his party almost every time.
I don’t subscribe to the belief that Republicans are better for small business than Democrats. When Pace learned of a bridge in Colorado being made with steel imported from China, he introduced a bill forcing the state to buy American products when spending taxpayer money. Pace comes from a family of small business owners, which gives him a common-sense perspective on business growth in Colorado that he can utilize on the national level.
Pace also stands on the right side of history when it comes to important social issues. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find any information on his website regarding his views on abortion and marriage equality. Candidates from both parties are standing nearly silent on those issues, so I called his campaign headquarters to find out where he stands.
James Dakin, communications director for the Pace campaign, told me the candidate views abortion as a private issue between a woman, her doctor and her religion, and that the government should stay out of it. He also said Pace views marriage equality as an issue for the states, that he would oppose a constitutional amendment narrowly defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and that he would support the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Important distinctions at a time when the Republicans are trying to turn our democracy into a theocracy.
Aside from party ideology, Pace also beats Tipton on one issue that crosses party lines in Pitkin County: protecting our environment, including our water and public lands. Pace has a strong track record on this issue in the State Assembly and, based on Tipton’s voting history, I’m confident Pace would do a much better job on this important front in Washington. We can’t let our water and public lands be destroyed by the highest bidder for personal profit, as the Republicans would like to allow. In fact, tea partier Tipton doesn’t think climate change is caused by humans, and believes it is nothing more than a way to “divide America.” What else do you need to know?
Amendment 64, the statewide ballot initiative attempting to amend the state constitution to legalize recreational use of marijuana, should be a no-brainer for liberals and conservatives alike. The measure would legalize and regulate the use, sale, growth and manufacture of marijuana for people 21 years and older, and would provide a significant revenue stream for the state by taxing sales.
Liberals should support Amendment 64 (www.regulatemarijuana.org ) for all the obvious reasons; marijuana is far less harmful to individuals and society as a whole than alcohol, the “War on Drugs” is costing us billions of dollars in a futile effort to eradicate the beloved weed, and scores of otherwise honest, law-abiding citizens have been imprisoned and branded felons due to its unreasonable prohibition.
True conservatives should be thrilled with the marijuana amendment because it almost perfectly aligns with the traditional conservative values of favoring states’ rights over federal rule, keeping the government out of our private lives and the capitalistic principle of free enterprise. The fiscal implications are also quite significant; besides saving taxpayers untold billions by eliminating law enforcement investigations, prosecutions and incarcerations due to the harmless plant, it will also raise millions through taxation and eliminate a big black market.
Under the amendment, the first $40 million of marijuana tax revenue each year will be credited to the public school capital assistance fund. With Colorado’s TABOR-controlled belt strangling the budget for education, $400 million in added revenue over the next 10 years would surely provided much-needed relief to the public school system. It’s a win-win for everyone, so please vote “Yes!” on Amendment 64.
Amendment 65 is a little talked about but important ballot question. It would require Colorado’s senators and representatives in Washington to “propose and support… and ratify” an amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowing the nation and individual states to limit campaign contributions and spending. This is a direct strike against the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling.
Corporations are not people, and should not be viewed as such under law. “Citizens United” only served to undermine American democracy and should be repealed. Check out www.voteyeson65.org  for more info. Since there’s no chance the currently conservative U.S. Supreme Court is going to reverse its own decision, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only remedy we have. Please vote “Yes!” on Amendment 65.
Amendment S would make more than 300 more state employees at-will by exempting them from the state’s personnel system. While it weakens this group’s protections from political favoritism, it seems to have bipartisan support (www.voteyesons.org ) because it does increase the state’s flexibility in this difficult fiscal environment. I’m voting “yes” on Amendment S with a small “y” and no exclamation point, but I’ll withhold judgment on whether that’s the right decision for a few years to see what happens.
Doug Allen will cover the school tax, library expansion and hydro plant next week, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .