Candidate stops in Steamboat

Norton seeking lieutenant governor's seat

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— Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Jane Norton said she fully supports Governor Bill Owens' plan that could help small businesses afford health care plans for their employees.

The plan, nicknamed the "Chevy" policy, would strip health care plans down to bare bones to make them affordable.

"The whole notion is to protect the affordability of health care," Norton said.

Right now, businesses supplying health care for their employees have to adhere to 24 coverage mandates that must be paid for, whether the employee needs the coverage or not.

Instead, Norton explained to a small crowd Monday in Steamboat Springs, some or all of those mandates would be eliminated for small businesses, making the policy more affordable.

Norton stopped in Steamboat on a three-day trek through Colorado campaigning for November's gubernatorial election.

This is the first election in Colorado where the candidates for governor can pick lieutenant governors as a running partner.

On Aug. 15, Owens announced Norton as his partner.

They are running against Boulder businessman Rollie Heath and Colorado Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut (D-Pueblo).

The lieutenant governor's only official duties are to head the Indian Affairs Commission and be the liaison to two tribes.

"The thought of lieutenant governor made me kind of nervous, I must admit," Norton said.

However, she said after thinking it over that she is up for the job and supports most of Governor Owens' programs.

Along with the health care policy, Norton also talked about standardized testing of the Colorado Student Assessment Program that Owens introduced.

"I think teachers and families understand the importance of knowing how (the students) are doing," Norton said.

"My saying is that you can't improve it if you can't measure what you are doing," she added.

Some concerned teachers have said standardized testing means gearing all subject matter to the tests, instead of topics not covered on the test, which could result in an incomplete education.

"That's the importance of refining the tests to make them relevant," she said.

Since 1999, Norton has been the executive director of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

She has also served as the executive director for the office of Strategic Relationships for the Medical Group Management Agency, a legislative representative for the American Association of Retired Persons, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and was the state presidential campaign director in the 1988 election.

Democrats say Norton's resume is that of a longtime bureaucrat who would be just moving up the ranks by being elected as lieutenant governor.

Norton said her experience is that of a public servant, not a bureaucrat.

"I'm really proud of my history of public service," she said.

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