During a stop in Durango on Tuesday, 3rd Congressional District Democratic candidate Gail Schwartz touted her initiatives to protect public lands, pursue clean energy and responsibly balance land management for future generations.
Speaking to a modest crowd at Rotary Park, Schwartz, a 45-year resident of the Western Slope, said public lands face increasing risks, such as the resurgence of the Sagebrush Rebellion and the Republican push to transfer federally owned lands to states.
“We will be the battleground when it comes to keeping public land public,” Schwartz said. “These lands are our economy, our future and our heritage.”
In her speech, Schwartz vowed to reform the General Mining Act of 1872 to ensure companies pay their fair share of the cost of reclamation while protecting natural resources. She also issued support for the Environmental Protection Agency in its effort to clean up mine sites north of Silverton that are responsible for degrading water quality in the Animas River. “When the EPA is the only agency in these basins,” she said, “we’re going to protect their funding.”
Schwartz then called into question the track record of her opponent, incumbent Republican congressman Scott Tipton, for siding with industry interests. She said Tipton voted to cut the Land and Water Conservation Fund by 90 percent.
“He has continually undermined the ability to protect public lands,” she said. “I will not have my votes sold to the largest donor.”
Michael Fortney, campaign manager for Tipton, disputed Schwartz’s view of Tipton’s record on public lands.
“Gail Schwartz is a typical politician that can’t seem to stop herself from flat out lying,” Fortney said in a statement to the Herald. “Congressman Tipton has always been a champion for public lands, like passing bills to protect Hermosa Creek and Chimney Rock. Gail’s time in the state Senate left her constituents jobless with higher utility bills. It’s sad that she has nothing to run on so she has decided to spend the last six months lying.”
Schwartz was joined by Durango city councilors Sweetie Marbury and Dick White, as well as former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who said the Democratic challenger aligns with the interests of Colorado’s diverse population.
“She not only has cowboy boots,” Udall said, “she also has hiking boots.”