Election Guide 2016: Gail Schwartz Q&A
October 16, 2016
Bio: Having lived 45 years on the West Slope, Gail Schwartz has dedicated her life to making Western and Southern Colorado the best possible place to live, work and raise a family. As a state senator for eight years, she worked to protect public lands, to promote an "all-of-the-above" energy approach and to ensure equitable access for rural communities to quality education and health care, economic opportunity, and rural broadband and infrastructure development.
Q. What is your position on gun control? Are there any measures you would support to help reduce the incidence of gun violence in the U.S.?
A. I will continue to stand up for the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership. I support, along with most Americans, common sense gun safety policies starting with increased background checks, domestic violence victim protection and a "no-fly, no-buy" policy to prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns once a reliable database is in place. The over 33,000 annual gun deaths in America result from a variety of causes — domestic violence, violence in our inner cities, mass shootings and terrorism, accidents and suicide. Almost two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides, and I am committed to addressing this tragedy and the underlying mental health issues that lead to these deaths.
Q. It has been suggested that big money plays far too large a role in U.S. elections. Would you support comprehensive campaign finance reform? If so, what form would you like to see such reform take?
A. Absolutely. The American people are fed up with our broken campaign finance system, and I could not agree more that we must reduce the influence of money in politics and the political process. The relentless demand for campaign funds can undermine our democracy by giving donors an unacceptable level of access to the legislative process. My opponent, Scott Tipton demonstrated this undue influence by producing a draft bill for Thompson Divide gas leases written almost word-for-word by his largest campaign donor, a Houston oil and gas company. Meanwhile, I am spending campaign time on fundraising just to make sure voters hear my message and take notice of Tipton's voting record to undermine our public lands — when I should be spending all my time listening to constituents across the 3rd Congressional District. As a Member of Congress, I will fight to lessen the impact of money in politics by supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, strive for donor transparency and limit the amount of money that corporations and special interests can spend on political campaigns.
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Q. What should the U.S. do differently to combat the rise in global terrorism and ensure that future attacks do not take place on American soil?
A. We need a tough and smart strategy to combat global terrorism and prevent attacks on American soil. I understand that people are concerned about safety right now. I am too. Keeping our families safe will be my most important responsibility in Congress. Collaboration, foreign aid and diplomacy will be key in future conflicts and fighting global terrorism. Working closely with allied nations will benefit our intelligence and partnering with technology companies will allow us to combat online radicalization. Sending troops into conflict should be the last option after diplomatic efforts have failed. It's also imperative that we end the budget sequester and fully fund our military and homeland security agencies to ensure government has the resources to create a nimble, technologically competent 21st century military to confront, identify and eliminate domestic and international security threats.
Q. Do you support a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as has been attempted numerous times in the U.S. House of Representatives? If so, how would you propose replacing it, and if not, what changes might be made to improve the American health care system?
A. I do not support repeal, and I am extremely frustrated by the fact that Republican leaders have wasted valuable time holding 64 votes attempting to repeal or undermine a law that is helping millions of Americans afford health care, rather than offering constructive measures to improve the law. Unfortunately, as some are benefiting from the ACA, many families and businesses in the 3rd Congressional District are suffering from lack of affordable coverage. We need to do more to bring down the costs of healthcare, and I am committed to working across the aisle to make needed changes that will bring costs down, control prescription drug costs and ensure price increases are fair to families while keeping crucial protections in the law. What I won't do is go back to a time when insurance companies discriminated against women, denied coverage to people with preexisting conditions and put caps on coverage that drove people into bankruptcy.
Q. The jobless rate has fallen in the past eight years, but employment remains depressed, and while economic output seems to have rebounded since the Great Recession, household income continues to lag. What should be done at the federal level to spur employment and boost household income?
A. This question is particularly pertinent for rural communities in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, where economic recovery has been slower than we've seen on the Front Range or across the nation. At the federal level, my top priorities are to pursue better broadband access in rural communities; fight to relieve the student debt burden and make college affordable so everyone has the chance to access the American dream through the promise of education; I also support a fair living wage for working Americans with incentives for business and economic growth; making affordable housing and childcare a reality; and creating more opportunities for workers through job skills training, investment in infrastructure, and the promotion of products made in America. And let's not forget our $34 billion outdoor recreation economy in Colorado. There are over 350,000 jobs in our state that depend on preserving our public lands —not transferring, undermining protections or selling them off.