Click here for coverage of this year's races and issues.
Diane Mitsch Bush
Occupation: Routt County commissioner
Prior political experience: Routt County commissioner (2007-12)
Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.
Years in Routt/Eagle counties: 36 years in Steamboat
Family: Husband, Michael Paul
Civic involvement: Vision 2020 (1993-94); City of Steamboat Springs Development Advisory Group (1996); Routt County Planning Commission (1996-2006); City-County Growth Management Advisory Group (2005); Rocky Mountain Rail Authority board of directors and Rocky Mountain Rail Authority Feasibility Study Steering Committee (2007-11); member of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s transition team for transportation (2010-11); Club 20 board member (2007-2012); Club 20 Executive Committee member (2010-12); Northwest Transportation Planning Region chairwoman (2009-12); Yampa Valley Sustainability Council (2006-12); Routt County representative on Mainstreet Steamboat Springs (2007-12); Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Transportation Solutions Group Ped/Bike Working Group chairwoman (2008-11); Steering Committee for LiveWell Northwest Colorado chairwoman (2010-12).
Q. Do you think the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and state regulations are sufficient for protecting the health, safety and environment in Routt County? If so, why? If not, what would you do to change current regulations?
A. No. COGCC currently has no requirements for water quality pre-testing and monitoring. It has a voluntary program designed by the industry and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. That is why we Routt County commissioners implemented conditions of approval requiring water quality pretests and monitoring and making the companies responsible for protecting our road infrastructure. Our conditions are designed to protect the public health and safety, environment, roads, existing businesses and taxpayer dollars for all Routt County citizens. The approval conditions are designed to protect the private property rights of all. On Sept. 21, following the governor’s Aug. 16 speech, COGCC Director Matt Lepore notiﬁed the COGCC that it will now consider required, statewide water quality pre-testing and monitoring measures similar to what we have put in place to protect Routt County. We acted with foresight and made our decision based on sound science and the stated needs of our constituents.
Q. Name your top three priorities if elected to the new House District 26 seat and how you would accomplish them.
A. 1) Revitalize our economy and get people back to work by:
■ Removing obstacles for small-business expansion while protecting existing private- and public-sector jobs, consumers, public health and the environment
■ Incentives to investors for job creation
■ Building markets to foster family agriculture
■ Encouraging the regional health care/wellness industry, a key to our economy and jobs in both counties.
2) Support education opportunities and nonproﬁt/private training partnerships for veterans, such as Green Jobs for Vets training/certiﬁcation in a number of building specialties, energy efficient retroﬁts of residential/commercial buildings and energy audits, leading to new startups or to employment in existing energy efficiency construction businesses.
3) Solve Colorado’s state ﬁscal crisis so we can invest in:
■ Infrastructure maintenance
■ P-20 public education to revive equal opportunity for all and nurture the 21st century workforce we need to keep Colorado competitive in the global economy.
Q. What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?
A. My documented, transparent record as an ethical, responsive, accountable, innovative, ﬁscally disciplined public servant, professor and small-business partner in Steamboat Springs shows that I make my decisions based on factual evidence and the opinions of my constituents. I implement sustainable, innovative policies based on data, not ideology, that actually solve problems. I know and use the data on policies and issues. I am not guided by ideology, special interest groups or Front Range party leaders. I will continue to demand all the facts and seek input from all the people of Routt and Eagle counties. I have a proven record of successfully negotiating across the partisan divide and the Continental Divide for my constituents. That is how I have led as a county commissioner and it is how I will lead as your state representative.
Q. What are the three most important issues facing residents of House District 26, and how would you address them?
A. 1) Keeping/getting a job and/or keeping/getting business customers so as to balance the household or small-business checkbook.
2) Ensuring access to P-20 education opportunities for all our children, which then provides a high-quality workforce and economic opportunity.
3) Protecting our environment and public health, especially water quality/supply and air quality. They are essential economic assets for our state’s and our mountain counties’ economic vitality and growth.
Q. How will you vote on Amendment 64, which would legalize marijuana in Colorado for adults 21 and older? Why?
A. This is up to the voters of Colorado. I see pros and cons. Pros: Liberty of adults; revenue potential; and closing down the illegal market, as happened when the 18th Amendment to U.S. Constitution was repealed by the 21st Amendment. Cons: Impacts on children and teens from more availability; the perception that marijuana is “OK for kids,” leading more kids to try it at young ages; new expectations of and additional burdens on law enforcement; negative image of Colorado. The voters will decide.
Q. How will you vote on Amendment 65, which would ask state legislators and Colorado’s congressional delegation to push for federal campaign contribution and spending limits? Why?
A. This is up to the voters of Colorado, not individual house representatives. Amendment 65 may be a step in the right direction, but Amendment 65 does nothing to address the real issue: the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. That ruling unleashed a torrent of money with no disclosure requirements. We the people do not know who or what group is behind ads in 2012. Spending by candidates is unlimited due to the 1976 Buckley v. Vallejo case that stipulated campaign spending as a form of free speech. We need federal-level reform that produces transparency and accountability while protecting free speech rights.
Q. Colorado’s fiscal woes, compounded by the conflicting nature of TABOR, Amendment 23 and the Gallagher Amendment, continue to have impacts on funding for transportation, education and other agencies. As a lawmaker, what steps would you take to address the fiscal situation?
A. I will partner with everyone to get all revenue and expenditure proposals on the table rather than the current piecemeal, conﬂicting ﬁscal policies. We need honest, fact-based discussion about what we want the state to look like in the short and long term. The DU fiscal study (2011) and recent budget forecasts from LegCo/OSPB paint an alarming picture of our ﬁscal future. If we do nothing, state infrastructure and services will continue to erode. Getting back to full employment is essential, but data show that even full economic recovery will not get Colorado out of the current ﬁscal crisis. Once we, as legislators, have objectively and skeptically developed alternative scenarios, then we should take all proposals to the public for a serious, frank and open statewide discussion. Coloradans need to know what the future will look like if we do not act. It is up to the voters of Colorado.
Q. Identify an issue in which Routt County is negatively impacted by Front Range politics/interests, and how you would seek to address it at the Capitol.
A. I will continue to work for our fair share of transportation funding, just as I have as the chairwoman of our CDOT Northwest Transportation Planning Region, as a statewide CDOT STAC representative, as a Club 20 board member, and as a member of the governor’s 2010-11 transportation transition team. The Front Range has the majority of the population and daily vehicle trafﬁc, but the majority of lane miles are on this side of the Continental Divide. I will continue to educate our Front Range neighbors on a key economic fact: many recent studies show that Front Range communities attract headquarters of ﬁrms because skilled employees want to be near our mountains and rivers. They are drawn by natural beauty and recreational opportunities. So insuring a connected, well-maintained transportation system to and from our mountain communities is not only good for our local economies, but it is critical for our statewide economy.