Marcia Martin, left, and Bette Carlson review questions submitted by the audience during a Wednesday night candidate forum in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Marcia Martin, left, and Bette Carlson review questions submitted by the audience during a Wednesday night candidate forum in Steamboat Springs.

Forum in Steamboat focuses on House race

Candidates field questions from community during event

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Randy Baumgardner

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Steve Ivancie

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Mike Kien

Election calendar

Today

Candidate forum hosted by the Steamboat Pilot & Today, Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors and Routt County Democratic and Republican parties, is at the Steamboat Springs Com­munity Center. A social hour is from 5 to 5:45 p.m., followed by the forum.

A meeting about Referendum 3A is at 7 p.m. at the Stagecoach fire station hosted by the Improve Soroco Schools committee.

Monday

Early voting begins. Voters who didn’t request a mail-in ballot can cast a ballot at the Routt County Courthouse.

Tuesday

A candidate forum hosted by the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs is at 1 p.m. at The Steamboat Grand, featuring Routt County sheriff candidates or their representatives. Other candidates to be announced. Rotarians and their guests are welcome.

Oct. 26

Last day to request a mail-in ballot.

Oct. 29

Early voting ends.

Nov. 2

Election Day. Polling locations will be open across the county, according to precinct.

— Randy Baumgardner had heard the question so often that he began answering before he reached the lectern Wednesday night at the Steamboat Springs Community Cen­ter.

“I did not vote against autistic children. I voted against the state mandating that in­­surance compan­ies provide autism insurance to every policyholder, which would increase their rate of payment, whether they have autistic children or not,” state Rep. Baumgardner said. “That’s why I voted no. … I didn’t think (the bill) was fair.”

Baumgardner, a Republican rancher from Hot Sulphur Springs, said he’s been asked several times at recent events about his vote against a 2009 bill that Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law and that requires health insurers to cover certain therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders. The frequency of the issue isn’t surprising — Baumgardner’s chief opponent in his bid for re-election, Steamboat Springs Democrat Steve Ivancie, is on the Yampa Valley Autism Program’s board of directors.

And the program’s executive director, Lu Etta Loeber, was among about 30 people who attended Wednesday night’s candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.

The forum featured remarks from candidates or their surrogates in statewide, regional and local races, along with audience questions — the majority of which were directed to the candidates running for House District 57. Oak Creek Libertarian Mike Kien also is in that race with Baumgardner and Ivancie.

Earlier this week, Ivancie said he felt Baumgardner could have done more to communicate with supporters of the autism bill when it was being debated at the Capitol 18 months ago.

“Our biggest complaint was he never responded to us … he voted against it (and) he never engaged with us,” Ivancie said. “In my opinion, our current state representative is woefully inadequate in that role.”

Baumgardner’s vote on the autism bill, however, was emblematic of the less-taxes approach that guides much of his politics. He emphasized that approach Wednesday night.

“I voted not to increase your taxes, I voted not to increase your fees,” Baumgardner said in his introductory comments to a crowd that thinned as the night continued.

Baumgardner gave the same reason Wednesday for his vote against FASTER, a 2009 bill that implemented higher vehicle registration fees to help fund road and bridge improvements.

“The last thing we needed to do was slap people with another fee,” Baumgardner said, adding that he felt the increased fees were actually tax increases that should have been voted on by citizens.

Ivancie has said he would have voted for FASTER as an economic driver of jobs and transportation infrastructure needed to attract businesses.

Kien, meanwhile, said radical change is needed to rein in a Colorado government that he said has spent more each year since 1982.

“It’s obvious that no Democrat or Republican is going to stop this relentless growth of government,” Kien said.

The state House race was the only one Wednesday with all of its candidates present.

Garrett Wiggins, Republican candidate for Routt County sheriff, spoke about ways to curb drug and alcohol abuse in Routt County and to ensure adequate Sheriff’s Office patrols on rural county roads. Incumbent Sheriff Gary Wall, a Democrat, could not attend Wednesday’s forum. Local attorney Randall Klauzer spoke on Wall’s behalf, citing his integrity and “outside-the-box” thinking.

The incumbent Routt Coun­ty coroner, Republican Rob Ryg, also could not attend Wed­nesday. Challengers Darrel Lev­­ingston and Kevin Nerney continued to support a message that the coroner’s position could have a larger role in efforts such as suicide prevention.

In the race to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, neither incumbent U.S. Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat from the San Luis Valley, nor Republican state Rep. Scott Tipton, of Cortez, could attend.

But Libertarian candidate Gregory Gilman, of Custer County, made the trip. Gilman said voters’ dissatisfaction amid a recessionary economy and widespread unemployment could spur greater support for third-party candidates.

“Congress is a failed institution and a victim of the two-party system,” Gilman said. “Congress might be our biggest challenge.”

The Steamboat Pilot & To­­day, Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors, Routt Coun­ty Democratic Party and Routt County Republican Party sponsor a candidate forum at 5:45 p.m. today at the community center. A social hour starts at 5 p.m. Candidates for Routt County sheriff, House District 57 and Routt County coroner are expected to attend.

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