EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of two commentaries about Colorado's gubernatorial candidates. Republican Rick Akin's column, "Why I support Bob Beauprez," appeared in Wednesday's Steamboat Today.
When Bill Ritter announced his candidacy, I agreed to volunteer for the campaign. When I was asked to tell you why I'm voting for Ritter, I jumped at the chance. I know Bill, I went to law school with him. What you see is what you get with Bill Ritter. He is honest, sincere and a man of consistent convictions.
It's time for a change. We owe it to our kids to hand off a healthy environment, an opportunity at a public education, affordable health care and a vibrant economy. We owe it to all kids. As Bill says, it's the right thing to do, and it's the smart thing to do. Our tax dollars are not likely to pay for a prison bed for a person with a good education. A person with access to health care isn't going to use the emergency room for their medical care, raising my premiums in the next six months. Investment into renewable resources reduces foreign oil reliance, creates new jobs, reduces pollution and improves national security without a single shot fired.
I care that our water runs east to west in natural riverbeds and not through tunnels under the mountains to the Front Range. I care that it's not just the oil and gas industry that makes decisions on natural resource extraction, whether it's at the ranch down the road or in the National Forest.
Bill Ritter believes in and cares about the same things. He's not running to carry a party's torch. He's running because he has a vision for Colorado and the can-do attitude to carry it out. He's willing to "dance" with both sides of the aisle. It's not about big government; it's about legitimate government. I don't know about you, but I appreciate driving on public roads and sending my children to public schools. I love the library. It's good to be able to call 911.
Do I believe Bill Ritter has a magic wand? No. But I do believe that action follows intent. Bill intends to put a priority on early education for at-risk children, higher education and community colleges. He intends to appoint balanced commissions that make crucial decisions about the balance between natural resource extraction, wildlife and surface use. He sees the value in Colorado taking the lead in developing renewable resources and technology. He believes in water conservation instead of water diversion. He knows how to practice fiscal responsibility. He will bring together all stakeholders to find a solution to Colorado's un-insured. Maybe his bank-owning opponent doesn't need to be concerned about health insurance premiums costing the same as a house mortgage did not too long ago. But I do. And Bill Ritter understands most Coloradans do.
Bill Ritter actively supported Referendum C along with many folks on the other side of the aisle, including Governor Owens and our own Jack Taylor saving higher education, health care and senior benefits from devastating cuts. Bob Beauprez opposed Referendum C. Bill opposed Referendum A-a blatant developer water grab that we, as voters, overwhelmingly rejected. Mr. Beauprez supported it. Bill is a problem solver, not a "my-party-right-or-wrong" loyalist. As a Congressman, Bob Beauprez voted the party line an astounding 96 to 98 percent of the time-policies which increased the federal deficit more than $2.5 trillion over his four years in Congress.
I like fresh air. I think all Coloradans do. It's time for some fresh air in government. It's time for someone who wants to make positive changes, not just protect the old guard. That's why I'm voting for Bill Ritter.
Sally Claassen is a long time Steamboat Springs resident, lawyer, mother of two and the co-coordinator of the Ritter for Governor campaign in Routt County.