Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet visits with Chief Financial Officer Bryan Roach (left) and Chief Medical Officer Ken Lindsey while touring the Yampa Valley Medical Center in February. Bennet, who is seeking a second term, is challenged by Republican Darryl Glenn.

John F. Russell/file

Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet visits with Chief Financial Officer Bryan Roach (left) and Chief Medical Officer Ken Lindsey while touring the Yampa Valley Medical Center in February. Bennet, who is seeking a second term, is challenged by Republican Darryl Glenn.

Election forums slated for Tuesday in Steamboat Springs

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— In the shadows of one of the most contentious presidential races in recent memory, Colorado voters will also decide important races at both the state and district levels Nov. 8, and several local forums are scheduled for Oct. 4 to help inform voters about the candidates and the issues.

If you go

What: U.S. Senate/House of Representatives candidate forum, hosted by the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs

When: noon Tuesday, Oct. 4

Where: Steamboat Grand, 2300 Mount Werner Circle

More information: Attendance is limited to Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs members and their guests.

What: Colorado House District 26 candidate forum, hosted by Steamboat Kiwanis Club

When: 12:25 to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 4

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.

More information: This forum is open to the public, though seating is limited

What: Information meeting about Amendment 69

When: 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 4

Where: Off the Beaten Path, 68 Ninth St.

More information: This meeting is open to the public. Additional informational meetings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct 18 and Nov. 1.

Following is a rundown of local forums available Oct. 4.

• The Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs will host a candidate forum involving Colorado’s candidates for U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate at noon Oct. 4 at the Steamboat Grand, 2300 Mount Werner Circle.

This is not a public forum, and non-Rotarians wishing to attend will need to be guests of club members.

Scheduled to attend for the U.S. Senate portion of the forum are a surrogate for Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Bennet's Republican challenger, Darryl Glenn.

Bennet, who was appointed to the Senate in 2009 and elected the following year and is now finishing his first full term, holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and later received his law degree from Yale University.

Glenn, an attorney, U.S. Air Force veteran and small business owner, is currently serving his second term as a county commissioner for El Paso County.

The U.S. House of Representatives portion of the forum will feature a surrogate for 3rd District incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, of Cortez, and Tipton's challenger, Democrat Gail Schwartz, of Crested Butte.

Tipton, who won his House seat in 2010 by defeating three-term Democratic incumbent John Salazar, is seeking a fourth term of office. He handily turned back a primary challenge from Alex Bernstein, gathering almost 79 percent of the vote.

Schwartz, who served two terms in the Colorado Senate, has also sat on the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and served six years on the University of Colorado Board of Regents, according to her website.

Recent hard times for Colorado’s coal industry have emerged as one of the key issues in the campaign.

Colorado’s sprawling 3rd Congressional District includes both Routt and Moffat counties, as well as 27 other counties across the western half of the state.

• The Kiwanis Club of Steamboat Springs will host a candidate forum featuring Democratic incumbent state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, who represents District 26 in the Colorado House of Representatives, and her GOP challenger Michael Cacioppo. The forum, which is open to the public, is set for 12:25 to 1 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.

Mitsch Bush, of Steamboat Springs, was elected to office in 2013, succeeding Democrat Andy Kerr — who in that year was elected to the Colorado State Senate — and is seeking her third term.

Cacioppo, of Vail, who publishes the monthly “Business Briefs” online and in a print version in Eagle County, is a relative newcomer to state politics, having briefly served on the Vail Town Council in the late 1980s.

According to information from the Kiwanis Club, the forum will include candidate introductions and a period for questions and answers.

• Off the Beaten Path, 68 Ninth St., will host the second of four planned community information meetings about Amendment 69, also known as ColoradoCare, at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4.

According to Off the Beaten Path’s website, the purpose of the meetings is to provide information about the amendment, which proposes to create a statewide health care system for Colorado residents that would be funded by a 10 percent payroll tax, one-third of which would be paid by employees, with the remaining two-thirds being covered by employers.

If approved by voters in November, Amendment 69 would eliminate the current insurance-based system and do away with co-pays and deductibles.

Proponents of the measure — including the League of Women Voters of Colorado, Denver Democrats and the American Postal Workers Union, Denver Metro Retiree Chapter — say passage would distinguish Colorado as the first state to establish an almost purely universal health care system, largely free the state from dependence upon the health care dictates of Washington D.C. and free up emergency rooms by covering all citizens for basic care.

Opponents say the amendment would create a huge new tax burden for Coloradans, while placing health care policy decisions into the hands of a largely autonomous, 21-member board and needlessly complicating the state constitution, according to the website coloradansforcoloradans.com.

Despite opposition from Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter and Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, Amendment 69 has been endorsed by the Colorado Democratic Party’s 2016 platform.

Upcoming Amendment 69 informational meetings are slated for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18 and Nov. 1 at Off the Beaten Path.

To reach Jim Patterson, call 970-871-4208, email jpatterson@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JimPatterson15

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