Two Democrats are facing off in the party’s June 30 primary for Colorado state House District 38: Candace Ferguson and David Ortiz. The winner will face incumbent Republican Richard Champion in November’s general election. Ballots were being mailed to voters starting June 8.
District 38 encompasses most of Littleton, west Centennial and parts of Columbine Valley and Bow Mar.
Colorado Community Media submitted these questions to the candidates.
City of residence: Littleton
Profession: Marketing and brand executive, small business owner
Campaign website address: candiceforcolorado.com
What makes you the best choice for this office?
I am a business owner and have been active in the community and supporting Littleton Public Schools for over 10 years.
I started an organization that works on community safety, equal rights and inclusivity, women’s rights, immigration support, and expanding access to healthcare and mental health services. I have held school safety workshops supported by school district leaders, fellow advocates, and state representatives, working on solutions to address the epidemics of school shootings and youth suicides. I am a wife and mother of three wonderful children and want to ensure Colorado continues to be a place where everyone can thrive.
What single issue do you think should be at the top of the General Assembly’s agenda in 2021?
My view has changed after the pandemic. Given the fact the pandemic has reduced revenue so drastically, $3.3 billion needed to be cut from this year’s budget. This is not sustainable. I believe the legislature must focus on putting together a coalition for an amendment that voters will approve to amend TABOR. Specifically, the legislature must be allowed to enact a temporary tax increase in times of emergency. We cannot afford to cut school funding, mental health, health care, infrastructure, and our environment. We can’t cut ourselves out of a crisis. We need to fix TABOR, then, we can convince voters.
If elected, what must you accomplish in order for you to consider your term a success?
I believe that if I communicate with the people of the district regularly, seek opinions and advice, and work with both parties to building coalitions to pass key legislation, my term would be a success. I will work within budget to improve schools, help teachers, build low income housing, improve mental health access, reduce air and water pollution, increase renewable energy, and create jobs. I will also work hard to get an amendment on the ballot to reform TABOR. I lead and advocate for the changes you want in our district and across Colorado.
What should the General Assembly do to address revenue shortfalls as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
It is going to take years to get our economy back to where it was. Revenue will be reduced and challenges increased. Just as in the 2008 recession, revenue shortfall will limit what can be done for the state. Therefore, we must amend TABOR to allow the legislature to react to an emergency. We need to be creative by working with the private sector to do public/private partnerships for housing, infrastructure, and other things to insure we make progress while we recover. We need to unleash the private sector to help with renewal energy and help fund local schools.
In today’s hyperpartisan environment, how will you reach across the aisle to work with members of the other party?
In business, and in my involvement in the community, I have worked with people of all backgrounds and political affiliations to make our schools and society better. Every issue we face today from economy to our environment, taxes to infrastructure, and education to healthcare are all interconnected. Understanding the human element to these issues is one of my greatest strengths. This means listening more than talking and trying to find connections with everyone. I will work with all my colleagues to find common ground and mutual respect to get things done. Progress, not perfection is how we will thrive together.
Party affiliation: Democrat
Profession: Nonprofit Management, Advocate/Lobbyist for veterans
Campaign website address: davidortizcolorado.com
I am a veteran, lifelong public servant, and tenacious fighter that understands the role of government in the community and has lived a life of selfless service. I’ve worked on ballot initiatives, rewrote and helped pass legislation around higher education reform and criminal justice reform, and dedicated myself to work in the nonprofit space. Our volunteers have written 12,000 postcards and made 24,000+ calls. We are endorsed by Congressman Jason Crow and many others. The community in HD38 behind our movement marks the largest distinction between me and anyone else in this race. I am David Ortiz, we are HD38.
Recovery should be at the top of the General Assembly’s agenda in 2021. We must support an economic recovery that puts small business owners, entrepreneurs, and working families first. Part of recovery is learning our lessons, so we are better prepared moving forward. We need to continue fighting to make healthcare more affordable and accessible. We need to prioritize paid family and paid sick leave as well. Foster greater fiscal responsibility by moving to create a true rainy-day fund should be our next course of action so that we can better weather the next storm that comes our way.
Success will be measured on if I can empower my community and create greater equity in opportunities so that individuals can make the most of their lives. We must propel the success of our small businesses and entrepreneurs. We must protect our waterways and parks in our community for all to enjoy. We must continue to close the achievement gap and facilitate the safety and success of our children in schools. I will consider my term a success if I empower the community to accomplish more than they ever thought we could.
We should work with our federal legislators to make the federal government do its job, which is to unite and support the states during a time of crisis. COVID-19 and the resultant economic crisis are a prime example of where we must demand their leadership and duty be fulfilled. On the state level we must dip into reserves, utilize the aspect of TABOR that allows us to declare an emergency and implement a temporary tax on those that have benefited the most from our years of economic success and that are most insulated from the current crisis.
Growing up as an Air Force brat and then serving in the armed forces myself, I view us all as belonging to the same American family. That belief is founded in ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, which should be applied to all equally regardless of who you love, the color of your skin, or your faith. As a lobbyist for veterans at our State Capitol, every piece of legislation I championed had bipartisan support. My ability to reach across the aisle is proven. We may have our differences BUT we belong to the same American family.
Richard ChampionParty affiliation: RepublicanCity of residence: Columbine ValleyProfession: Small Business Owner, Oil & Gas Consulting firmCampaign website address: championforcolorado.com
Littleton is my home. I’ve lived in the county for over 50 years and I am passionate about serving the community. My experience in the Army, as a small business owner, a mayor, and police commissioner has given me a unique perspective and skillset. My time serving in the House of Representatives has shown me how out of touch elected officials, who have never run a business and/or served in our nation’s military, can be. I want to see Littleton and our state thriving again and I have the experience and passion to help get us back on track.
What single issue do you think should be at the top of the General Assembly's agenda in 2021?
We have a responsibility to do what we can to ensure the health and safety of our citizens, but America is the land of the free. The scales have tipped too far towards restricting our rights and freedoms in the name of safety. Study after study confirms that we’re taking the wrong approach and this virus, though impactful, isn’t nearly as bad as we were led to believe. Our top priority should be getting Colorado open for business. When our economy is robust and people are working again, we can solve many problems from a position of strength.
If re-elected, my mission will be to continue to work to get Colorado up and running again. I will work with anyone, on either side of the aisle who shares this ideal. I will draft and support legislation to accomplish this goal and will do everything in my power to build a coalition of legislators to support this vital objective. The funding of education is paramount for our most precious investment – our children’s future. When Colorado is thriving and our schools aren’t taking the hits of the impending budget crisis, I will consider my term a success.
This crisis has cost our community, state, and nation an incredible sum of money while tax revenues have fallen. The solution is clear: We need to get Colorado back to work and our economy roaring again. When the economy moves forward as it was before this crisis, tax revenues rise and our households thrive. We also need to be responsible with spending. I have co-sponsored measures to cut unnecessary spending; taking a surgical scalpel approach instead of a swinging axe. In the meantime: Reduce the bloated state government. Government employees have not suffered while the average worker is on unemployment.
In today's hyperpartisan environment, how will you reach across the aisle to work with members of the other party?
I am conservative, but in the end, I will do what’s best for Colorado. I have effectively worked with (and befriended) many Democrats to achieve legislation that benefits all Coloradans, regardless of political affiliation. Many have never worked in private industry, so they don’t know what it is like to own a business, or live paycheck to paycheck or understand the tremendous burden of overregulation. But we all love our children, want good schools with good teachers so our kids grow up to be caring and responsible citizens. We must start somewhere and that is a great place to start.
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