Time for new representation in Congress

Aspen Daily News Staff Report
As a freshman legislator, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton has been part of the problem in Washington, committing himself to the Republican agenda of limiting President Barack Obama’s effectiveness in order to deny him a second term. This is cynical politics at its worst, and we are ready for new representation for the 3rd Congressional District that better aligns with the values of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Fortunately, there is a dedicated and energetic candidate in current state House Rep. Sal Pace, a Democrat from Pueblo. Pace has a distinguished record in the state Capitol of fighting for middle-class Coloradans and protecting the environment — he is a champion of a bill that requires the state to do business with Colorado companies whenever possible, and he has sought protections for more of the Centennial State’s wild lands. We expect him to carry these causes on to our nation’s capital, and we are pleased to hear the support he has expressed for legislation that would curb drilling in the Thompson Divide area west of Carbondale.

Tipton, on the other hand, chose not to take a position on the Thompson Divide legislation, when asked about it earlier this summer by the Aspen Daily News. He said it would be better to wait and see the breakdown of opinions being gathered by other legislators who are researching the issue. Tipton also took a curious position last year, when other members of Colorado’s congressional delegation penned a letter urging the federal government to release funding for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s bus rapid transit project. Instead of signing on to support an important infrastructure project that creates jobs and sustains the economy in his district, Tipton declined to endorse the letter, saying he had issues with a minor budget line item in the project that would provide bus riders with wireless Internet for the long commute. These are not examples of the leadership this community needs to move forward.

On important federal matters, such as Medicare, Social Security and social policy, we trust Pace far more than Tipton. Pace is on record against the Paul Ryan budget that would convert Medicare into a voucher program, while Tipton voted for and remains a committed proponent of the plan. Pace will defend Social Security from the ever-present conservative desire to turn it over to Wall Street. He also supports a woman’s right to chose, and will never use same-sex marriage as a wedge issue.

There also is a third-party candidate in the race — Pueblo entrepreneur Tisha Casida. We enjoyed meeting with Casida, who brings a fresh perspective to politics, and who is clearly passionate about making government work better for the people. However, she also espouses some radical libertarian proposals, such as turning over to the states control of national forests and other resources that are held in trust for all Americans. Her views on fiscal policy are interesting — such as her desire to abolish the Federal Reserve and let states, and even individual counties, coin their own currency. These views are far outside the mainstream, and sound like a recipe for chaos. If Casida truly believes in her convictions, we hope she can find another role in government, and work her way up from there.

Given the sprawling and diverse nature of the 3rd Congressional District, which encompasses most of the Western Slope, plus Pueblo, we need federal representation that does not engage in obstructionist politicking. We need an experienced legislator who understands that protecting the environment and supporting middle-class families are critical values to the district. One candidate fits the bill, while the others fall short. We urge voters to support Sal Pace for U.S. Congress on Nov. 6.