There’s something special about meeting a political candidate face-to-face, Doug Fults said Saturday after Indivisible Durango hosted three congressional hopefuls at Durango Public Library.
“In person, you can tell the difference between what they are really passionate about and what looks good for polling,” Fults said. “You can learn more about what they’re really about – like, ‘Do I even like this person.?”
More than 100 people took the opportunity to meet with three candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Scott Tipton, the Republican congressman representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District – which covers the Western Slope and southern portions of the state.
Former State House Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush joined Western Slope transplant James Iacino and longtime Durango resident Root Routledge at Indivisible Durango’s general membership meeting, where moderator Anne Markward asked candidates about the range of platforms promoted by the local political movement.
Mitsch Bush touted her climate policy experience in the state Legislature and on the Routt County Board of County Commissioners. Her campaign to unseat Tipton in 2018 gave her the experience she needs to beat the five-term Colorado representative, she said.
“I know what it takes,” Mitsch Bush said. “I know Tipton’s MO.”
Iacino, executive and chairman of Denver-based distributorship Seattle Fish Co., said he’s confident his moderate agenda will resonate with unaffiliated and progressive Republican voters, despite moving just a couple of years ago to the Western Slope.
Routledge aligned himself with Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and emphasized immediate action to address climate change. The “systemic problem-solver” called his campaign a “low-budget, grassroots climate insurgency” and said he would champion proposed legislation such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.
On the issuesCandidates distinguished themselves on how to address climate change, the high cost of health care and the impacts of wealth inequality. Each promoted gun safety, voter equity, rights for women and compassion for immigrants.
Mitsch Bush said she is “opposite in every single way” to President Donald Trump and blasted Tipton for his support of the current administration and its policies. The federal government should invest fossil fuel subsidies should in environmental cleanups, grants and low-interest loans for renewable energy businesses, she said. Heath care companies must negotiate with Medicaid – a step toward affordable universal health care, she said.
The former state representative called for universal background checks to purchase firearms and said people convicted of domestic violence should have restricted rights to guns. Assault rifles should be banned, she said. She championed reproductive rights and immigration reform that is “full, complete and evidence-based.”
Iacino, a self-described “business candidate,” said Congress should tax polluters to subsidize farmers and regenerative agriculture. Climate protections should be enshrined in law rather than set by executive policy and a “strong public option” for health insurance would take pressure off small-business owners who cannot afford to insure their employees.
A livable federal minimum wage and reductions to the cost of health care and housing may help narrow the wealth gap, and free community college could help people get good jobs in sustainable energy, Iacino said. Iacino is a gun owner and said he supports a nationwide law that allows judges to order firearms seized – commonly called “red flag” laws.
Routledge called himself a “mainstream FDR Democrat.” Carbon emissions should be taxed and every U.S. citizen should get a dividend, he said. Medicare for all, free public education through college and eliminating college debt will offer higher take-home pay for people struggling to make it, he said.
The federal government needs to protect air and water with legislation and stop offering public land for private development or drilling, he said. Assault weapons should be banned and the immigration system needs compassionate reform, he said.
Carol Cure, chairwoman of La Plata County Democrats, was “very impressed” with Iacino and Mitsch Bush – either “would have a great chance to unseat Tipton,” she said. Saturday’s event gave her and others a chance to see who best represents their views, Cure said.
But what affected Durango resident Kirby MacLaurin most about the meeting wasn’t the people at the front of the crowd, he said.
“Looking behind me, people are engaged,” he said. “People are pumped up and ready coming off of 2016.”