Campaign ads to the contrary notwithstanding, the two men vying to represent the 59th District are both honest, decent and hardworking. Mike McLachlan, however, is the more qualified candidate and better represents the interests, needs and temperament of this district.
Having been a prosecutor, county attorney and the states solicitor general in which capacity he successfully represented Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court McLachlan has a deep understanding of state government.
The incumbent, state Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, is personable and genuinely proud of his family and lifestyle. He is committed to his beliefs, while unfailingly gracious and polite.
However, Brown also brings a pinched and narrow vision of the role of state government. It is not just in terms of limiting the size of government, but of severely constraining its direction and purpose. It is a perspective that is out of touch with the needs of 21st-century Colorado.
His Democratic opponent takes a more realistic approach. Included in that is an understanding of what is necessary for Colorados long-term economic health.
McLachlan lists education as his No. 1 priority. And he is right to do so, as an overall value and as a prescription for economic vitality. It has been shown repeatedly that nothing creates economic well-being as surely and effectively as education.
But Colorado has fallen behind on school spending and in college graduation rates. And there is no better goal for a legislator than improving that situation.
McLachlan also correctly says that loosening environmental regulations would, at best, provide only a short-term economic boost. He sees protecting the physical beauty, water and environmental health of the 59th District as central to promoting and sustaining economic growth. In an economy based on tourism and increasingly on small, high-tech firms, that should be obvious particularly in the 59th District as it has been redrawn to include La Plata, Archuleta and San Juan, Ouray and Hinsdale counties and much of Gunnison County.
McLachlan also would target veterans issues. Americas 21st-century wars have not produced the number of vets as earlier conflicts. Beyond the need for jobs, however, many of the problems they face are new and vexing, particularly in regard to trauma, stress and head injuries. His interest there is well placed.
Brown has done some good in office. His bill banning the dangerous drugs sold as bath salts comes to mind. He deserves our thanks.
McLachlan deserves your vote.