Meet the state senate candidates seeking to represent Rio Blanco County

Editor’s note: What follows are two articles about the two candidates running for the state senate seat that will represent Rio Blanco County. Emily Tracy, Breckenridge (Summit County), is challenging incumbent State Senator Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, in his bid for re-election to a second four-year term representing State Senate District 8, composed of seven counties: Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit.

Tracy seeks non-partisan solutions
RBC | Tracy has been to Rio Blanco County several times this election season. She’s held meet and greets in both Rangely and Meeker, knocked on doors, experienced the unusual resonance of the Tank in Rangely and attended part of the White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts’ “Natural Resource Tour—Northwest Colorado Water Needs” in August.
Tracy says that, “So much of what goes on at the Capitol results in partisan battles that don’t benefit anyone. Being married to a lifelong Republican,” she says, “has accustomed me to crossing party lines every day at home. Local issues facing the state are typically not partisan, or shouldn’t be, but they become so when the two parties make it about winning instead of about collaborating on well thought-out solutions.”
Tracy told voters that she is fiscally conservative, very supportive of the public school system, and the rights of local government. There’s definitely a place, particularly in this SD 8, for responsible energy development. “Too often,” she said, “government tries to invoke broad stroke rules that are made without consideration of local residents, businesses or economies.”
If elected, Tracy says she expects to look at problems objectively and not be unduly swayed by any political party “instructions,” but to work out practical solutions; to listen; to be collaborative, responsive and cooperative.
She feels strongly about the protection of Western Slope water for Western Slope use, keeping agriculture on the land, and working with government agencies to facilitate locally helpful management of public lands, economic development and tourism.
Tracy maintains her experience as an eight-year member of the Cañon City Town Council (before she moved to Breckenridge), working with the Summit County Chamber of Commerce, serving on legislative affairs committees, including Club 20, and on the Summit Co. Countywide Planning Commission (since 2006) put her in a good place to be effective as a state senator. “I am committed to being a strong voice and advocate for Senate District 8,” Tracy states.
Tracy is especially pleased to be endorsed this year by both of Baumgardner’s predecessors in the state senate, Sens. Al and Jean White, both R-Hayden, who argue Tracy will provide a moderate, thoughtful, and responsive approach to governing.
In their endorsement letter, the Whites wrote, “After years of non-partisan public service, Emily’s dedication to finding solutions is clear regardless of what side of the aisle someone sits on.”

Baumgardner urges party unity
RANGELY |vote_076_bw Colorado State Senator Randy Baumgardner held a meet and greet in Rangely in October where residents could ask questions that are foremost on their mind this election season. The questions posed to the senator varied from energy issues, the Wolf Creek Reservoir project, to gun control and education.
The senator expressed views that are consistent with conservative view points that serve as the foundation for Republican politics. Though he did state that the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds views he did not necessarily agree with, he still supports Trump over Hillary Clinton. He feels that it is important for those with conservative values to support their own party.
I attended the meet and greet and then the next day Senator Baumgardner agreed to a one-on-one interview. He answered a few questions that are important to those living in Rangely and the surrounding area.
One of the most important issues to many residents of western Colorado is the issue of land and water conservancy. As a rancher, Sen. Baumgardner says he understands the issue and keenly feels the concerns of residents in and around Rangely. His efforts to conserve water even on the Front Range will help residents on the Western Slope keep and utilize our water and avoid diverting it to other areas of the state.
Another concern that Senator Baumgardner raised was economic development in Western Colorado. He feels that more needs to be done to preserve our small town way of life while helping the economy. The Wolf Creek Reservoir may be able to play an important part in the economy of Rangely. It’s important to bring people into the area for fun and recreation, which will help area businesses.
Another issue that Senator Baumgardner was eager to discuss was recent legislation that he signed raising the salaries of many government workers, many of whom had not seen a pay raise since 1998.
Senator Baumgardner will never see one dime of that pay raise because it is not set to take effect until 2019. This is after Senator Baumgardner will no longer be in office.
“It’s just a lie,” the senator said of negative ads that state he gave himself a pay raise, adding that these lies serve to distract the residents of Western Colorado from the more pressing issues that face the future of the Western Slope.
The senator visited Rangely several times in the past two weeks, attending a special work session for the reservoir project.