Economic development, the health of rural hospitals and relationships with public lands partners highlighted a conversation with Gail Schwartz, Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District.
Community and business leaders were invited to share their thoughts with Schwartz at a meeting hosted by the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce.
On the issue of health care, Schwartz said she is committed to tweaking the Affordable Care Act, to keeping the things that are working and modifying those that aren't.
Phil Schmidt, who serves on the board of directors of Delta County Economic Development, spoke about DCED's focus on agriculture, soil health and broadband. "There are a lot of good things to talk about, with the goal of maintaining and promoting economic development," he said. "At the same time we're seeing a decline in coal mining jobs."
All of DCED's efforts don't stand up to the loss of jobs in the North Fork, where environmentally-friendly operators are extracting environmentally-friendly coal, Schmidt said. He appealed to Schwartz to support any rulemaking proposals that will help maintain and preserve the remaining mining jobs.
Schwartz agreed coal is an incredible resource, and will remain part of the nation's energy portfolio. But diversifying that portfolio is important for a number of reasons, one of which is keeping energy affordable, to draw industry and manufacturing back to the U.S.
Schwartz faulted Congress for not anticipating the downturn in the industry nationwide with resources, tax incentives and training programs to ease the transition away from coal.
Water, natural resources, agritourism and relationships with federal land partners, and in particular the BLM, rounded out the conversation.
Schwartz described herself as a moderate, centrist individual who is willing to reach across the aisle. As a state senator, she said 95 percent of her bills had bipartisan support.
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