Colorado’s office of state treasurer seems to gain significance as time goes on, partly because some, such as its current occupant, Walker Stapleton, have used it as a stepping stone – in Stapleton’s case, to his candidacy for governor.
Vying to replace him are Dave Young, a Democrat and former teacher who has spent the last seven years in the Colorado Legislature representing Weld County, and Brian Watson, a Republican and businessman, originally from the Western Slope and now the Denver area.
This is a race between the insider and the outsider, to determine who will be a state watchdog, guiding investments worth about $6 billion, serving on the board of the Public Employees Retirement Association and managing unclaimed property, among other duties.
Watson has had an apparently successful career as a real-estate investor and says he’ll bring that same energy to the treasurer’s post. He’s also had some problems with tax arrears, although he assured us those are all behind him now. He has a winning, upbeat attitude and we like that he has strong connections to this part of the state.
Young is coming at the job from the vantage of the Legislature, essentially. His service there includes four years on the Joint Budget Committee, which he points to, rightly in our view, as good preparation for the treasurer’s role because he’s had to work across the aisle and pragmatically to keep the budget balanced while aiming for progress in how the state invests in its people. “It’s not just numbers,” he told us, “it’s real human values that we’re addressing.”
We vote for Dave Young for treasurer.
State House District 59Barbara McLachlan has been engaged and accessible during her first term in Colorado’s House. A former Durango High School teacher, she has been a strong advocate for better schools and more and better teachers, taking the lead in imaginative legislation that would supplement teachers’ costs and help place them in rural districts. During the last session, she has added the state’s transportation needs to her focus.
McLachlan has been a listener and has clearly enjoyed identifying solutions to the state’s needs.
At the same time, Paul Jones of Gunnison, who is running unaffiliated for the District 59 seat, deserves praise. Without a Republican challenger, Jones is filling what would otherwise be an empty chair during debates, providing voters with some alternative viewpoints on issues of the day. And Jones’ candidacy brings the unaffiliated political category to the fore.
Jones is a retired state Parks and Wildlife natural resource manager with a biology degree from Colorado State University who says he has been a lifelong independent. He praises McLachlan for her support for education but says he would work to do more for students who do not want to go to college, including expanding employment internships. He is involved in a Gunnison project to improve degraded land ecology and restore wetlands, and he knows water issues and will stand up to Front Range pressure.
But most of all, Jones emphasizes his independence as allowing him to legislatively support what he feels is best for the state without being tied to a party. Crumbling infrastructure, the cost of education, low wages and absent broadband, and working through the Gallagher-Tabor gridlock are state challenges which he as an independent can play a role in solving.
We vote for Barbara McLachlan to return to the House, but we hope there are more candidates like Jones in Colorado’s future.