By Mckenzie Moore

Staff Writer

On June 10, the League of Women Voters hosted the Colorado Third Congressional District Candidate Forum, featuring Lauren Boebert (Republican), Diane Mitsch Bush (Democrat) and James Iacino (Democrat). An invitation was extended to Scott Tipton (Republican), but he was not able to participate in the event.

The forum took place over livestream and had over 500 attendees. The La Plata County League of Women Voters encouraged Colorado constituents to view the recording of the forum in order to listen to the candidates’ perspectives and gain more information for the primary election.

Opening statements were made in a randomly-drawn order, starting with Boebert. She described her background growing up in a Democratic home and the economic struggle that followed. More information on Boebert’s campaign can be found at laurenforcolorado.com.

“We are in one of the most challenging times for our country. The COVID health scare, the murder of George Floyd, the murder of retired police captain [David] Dorn, the lawlessness that’s followed. The promise of America tells us that we are better than this,” said Lauren Boebert in her opening statement. “In COVID and in social unrest, the reaction has been destructive to our lives and to our economy and to our conscience. I know in my heart that we can do better, and we will do better. We have to be compassionate, we have to be principled and we have to be strong.

“A few days ago, I spent my time in Denver scrubbing graffiti off of the capitol building, the people’s house. And it made me even more determined to take my fight for freedom and equality and everything our founders and Constitution stand for, and speak up and win this race,” she continued. “We need citizens to do their part. Another government program or punitive shutdown isn’t going to solve this problem. Americans like you and me are going to be the solution.

“We don’t need socialism and lawlessness being promoted by the Democrats. We don’t need the heavy hand of government turning us into a nanny state. We need leadership that believes in America,” Boebert concluded.

Iacino was second in line for opening statements. He explained his background working for and eventually running his multi-generation family business, Seattle Fish Company. More information on Iacino’s campaign can be found at jamesforcolorado.com.

“We [at the company] understand what it means to invest in our workers and great wages, great benefits, to ensure they have the opportunity to succeed,” he said. “We were the 2017 Green Business of the Year, and we’re proud of the efforts we’ve made to reduce waste, to reduce water and our solar array on our headquarter building to help do our part to fight the climate crisis. These are the values that are key to me, and they’re the values that I want to take to Congress to represent Colorado’s third district.

“We need to fight for economic mobility for everybody, opportunities to diversify and bring new jobs to the Western Slope and southern Colorado. We need to fight for healthcare; as the current crisis has showed us, there is no more important time to have access to great quality, affordable healthcare and ensure that everybody is covered and has the access they need,” Iacino continued. “We need to fight climate change, we need to invest in protecting our public lands, and ensure that we are doing our part to regenerative agriculture and promotion of renewable energy to continue to lead the fight, to fight the climate crisis. And that’s what I’m going to bring to represent you in Congress for the Third Congressional District.”

Mitsch Bush concluded the opening statements, describing her background being raised by a single mom and later seeing the effects of her mother joining the union. More information on Mitsch Bush’s campaign can be found at dianeforcolorado.com.

“I’m running for the U.S. House because our democracy is in danger. COVID and the murder of George Floyd have highlighted the deep structural inequalities in our society. Scott Tipton and the other multi-millionaires in Congress work effectively for the top one percent, but not for the rest of us,” Mitsch Bush began. “Even before COVID, people were living paycheck to paycheck, and I know that struggle firsthand.

“Before I was elected, I had a distinguished career as a social scientist, teaching and doing research,” she continued. “During that time, I was involved with Moon Cycles, a bike manufacturer. I know the outdoor industry and the issues it faces. My proposals to incentivize small manufacturing draw on my experience in that industry.

“I’ve worked with ranchers for 35 years, I know the issues they face. I’m a seasoned, tested, trusted public servant, who’s led calmly through disasters and crises: the swine flu, catastrophic wildfires and the Great Recession. I’ve stood up to lobbyists, not just talked about it,” Mitsch Bush said. “I’m proud to be endorsed in this primary by the Colorado AFL-CIO, UNITE HERE and United Food and Commercial Workers. I’m running to use my proven success at bringing people together and solving problems, to be your voice in the U.S. House.”

Candidates then answered questions from constituents, which were accepted in advance of the event. Any questions that were not asked during the forum were given to the candidates for their consideration.

“One of the great things about a League of Women Voters candidate forum is that constituents get to ask questions of candidates about issues that interest them and hear the answers directly from the candidates without any editing or filtering, making it more like a town hall meeting than a debate,” said Paul DeBell, assistant professor of political science at Fort Lewis College and event moderator.

The Colorado primary election will take place on June 30. The nominated candidates from each party’s primary will be on the general election ballot in November.

Tiffany Parker, La Plata County clerk and recorder, explained that ballots went out in the mail earlier this month. In-person voting is still available for those who prefer it or need ADA-accessible equipment.

Election results may take slightly longer than normal due to limited numbers of election judges in the facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone who still needs to register to vote (or update their registration, such as an address change) can contact their local clerk and recorder.

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