CORRECTION: State Senate District 28 Candidate Q&A


CORRECTION:
This questions and answer portion of the 2012 Voter Guide was printed in error, switching responses from the two candidates. Below is the corrected questions and responses from candidates Nancy Todd and John Lyons. The Aurora Sentinel regrets the error.

Colorado State Senate District 28

Challenger: John Lyons- Republican

Incumbent: Nancy Todd – Democrat

 What makes you the most qualified candidate?

John Lyons:

I am the only candidate that understands what a lot of people are going through in these tough economic times. I have to live within my means, sometimes the kids do not get to do some fun activity. After almost thirty years as a diesel technician I am going into middle age and have to reinvent myself. I have no other political aspirations than getting elected serving my time as a public servant, getting re-elected then going back to my civilian life. With that comes an understanding of the problems and concerns of blue collar workers. I look at situations differently than most career politicians like my opponent. I look at things through the eyes of a mechanic. The way I see how to repair things is to fix the problem not the symptoms.

Nancy Todd:

I have the experience of having served as a teacher in Cherry Creek School District for 25 years, and am very familiar with education issues facing our students, teachers, administrators, as well as communities. I have served as a State representative for the past 8 years, providing me experience with the legislative process, my community, and the executive branch of government on statewide issues. I know how to work across the aisle to create solutions that serve our Colorado constituents. My experience as the chair of State Veterans and Military Affairs also provided me great opportunities to work with the secretary of state on election issues as well as military and veterans support.

Should the state revisit sentencing restrictions to reduce prison spending?

John Lyons:

No. There are consequences when laws are broken.

Nancy Todd:

We have addressed sentencing reform over the past 8 years I have served in the state legislature. By addressing this issue, we have been able to reduce the prison population and close CSP II, thus saving money spent on corrections for the state of Colorado. I support these efforts and am very honored to have supported legislation to move us in the direction.

Would you support creating a public school voucher program?

John Lyons:

Parents need to have more choices where they want to educate their children. Choice and competition are the direction that our schools need to be heading. If parents want to send them to a private Christian school great; a conservative school, fine; a school that liberalism is taught – so be it. Ultimately it is the parents’ choice where their children go and the tax dollars should follow the child. Choices for education need to be brought down to the local level, not some far-off capital.

Nancy Todd:

I am not a supporter of using public school monies for private school vouchers. Colorado is one of the leading states for school choice and many opportunities are available for students to attend a public school outside of their own district as well as within their district. If a parent chooses to enroll their child in a private school, that is the parent’s choice and also responsibility to make that personal financial decision.

Should Colorado grant homosexuals the right to marry, create civil unions or neither?

John Lyons:

Against both (short answer). As a small government conservative it is not my place to tell people how to live their lives according to my set of morals or values. I would be no better than the liberals/ progressives that tell me how to live my life according to their set of morals or values. We need to have dignity for all without redefining marriage. There is one issue that all of us can agree upon; both gay and straight people want high paying quality jobs.

Nancy Todd:

I believe Colorado should allow legal recognition of civil unions. I voted for this legislation in the 2012 special session when it was heard in State Veterans and Military Affairs committee. Unfortunately it was not allowed to be heard on the house floor during the regular session. I do believe equal rights for those in committed relationships should be allowed in Colorado. This would be a change in the Constitution and require a vote of the people to overturn the current constitutional amendment of marriage as between one man and one woman.

With so many state “entitlements,” such as Medicaid and public schools, how can Colorado best increase spending on roads, bridges and other transportation projects?

John Lyons:

Colorado can best increase spending on entitlements by cutting waste and fraud within each program and by creating a stronger, larger tax base by creating a positive environment for jobs creation.

Nancy Todd:

The state constitution and federal law have created a fixed formula for budget items such as Medicaid, k-12 education, and corrections. With so little left over it is difficult to have much flexibility in the state budget to cover all other expenses. To make any kind of change, we need to go to the vote of the people to invest in transportation maintenance as well as expansion. In Aurora we will have that opportunity to address expansion of I-225 with 2B, which is not a tax increase, but an extension of taxes already being paid by the citizens. We need to address spending formulas in Colorado with Tabor, Amendment 23, and Gallagher in order that we have more flexibility to serve the best interests of our Colorado citizens.

Should the state increase regulation of fracking or ease off?

John Lyons:

The technology is not available to make wind and solar commercially viable without subsidies from some level of government. Developing the state’s resources while private companies improve green energy technology is where the state needs to focus its efforts. Focusing on development of our own resources will provide high paying quality jobs for the people in Senate District 28.

Nancy Todd:

I believe we are continuing to address necessary regulations for the overall safety and well-being of our citizens. We have had many opportunities to discuss the effects of noise, traffic, smell, and proximity to individual residences with a focus on the air, land, and water quality for Coloradans. Fracking is a part of our Colorado economy but it needs to be done with good will towards the neighbors most affected and an increased awareness of the decreased amounts of available water in our state.

Above all, what should the state do to improve student performance in public schools?

John Lyons:

Schools need to focus on their primary responsibility of educating the students and maintaining discipline so students can continue their education to seek out and be employed in high paying, quality jobs.

Nancy Todd:

This is an issue that affects all of us. The answers are not one silver bullet. The stronger a collaboration between parents and teachers with their child’s education, the greater chance for success for all Colorado kids! It is a combination of providing quality learning environments with qualified and quality teachers who are supported with materials, supplies, safe learning environments and time to plan and collaborate to operate at their highest level of effectiveness. Beginning with early childhood and full day kindergarten for all children is one of the best investments to improve student performance. Intervention along the way as students face challenges for extra academic support, and goal setting for students and parents to find relevancy in education and plan for post-secondary options. We have created legislation that provides opportunities for Colorado students to attend schools of their choice, enroll in post- secondary classes to receive both high school and college credit and graduate with an associate degree; raised the common core standards to align with other states across the nation; and increased the number of high school counselors to guide students and parents into planning for the future.

In what ways could, or should, Colorado step up efforts to make life for illegal immigrants inconvenient so that they would leave the state?

John Lyons:

We should not and need not make anyone’s life inconvenient or uncomfortable to evoke a response. We should be enforcing the law.

Nancy Todd:

Colorado passed some of the most stringent immigration laws in the special session of 2006. Requiring employers to not hire undocumented individuals and all workers must have ID on file were two of the requirements.

What one thing could the Legislature do to create private sector jobs?

John Lyons:

Provide a positive business environment which includes low taxes for businesses, less government interference for startup businesses. Propose legislation that will make it the responsibility of the employee to pay dues directly to the union instead of employer. Regulations from the Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment and E.P.A. are often complicated, ineffective and duplicated. They place undue burdens, hardships and costs on businesses. The cost associated with compliance with these regulations would allow businesses to provide more high paying quality jobs to the people within Senate District 28.

Nancy Todd:

Build a strong infrastructure with high quality transportation, education, health care, and a favorable business climate is the most important focus for our state to help create private sector jobs in Colorado. If we build it, they will come.

Should Colorado work to increase a “cooling off” period for the sale of guns and ammunition, increasing the requirement to ensure the mental health of gun buyers?

John Lyons:

Most laws and regulations make it hard for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights and these same laws and regulations are ineffective against criminals. It is not law-abiding citizens that commit terrible acts of violence. It is people that have little regard for human life and contempt for our laws that commit unspeakable acts of violence. Gun control policies have not worked and will continue to fail because laws on paper cannot change what is in the human heart.

Nancy Todd:

We have gun laws that are in the books. It is making sure that those selling the guns and ammunition keep records and crosscheck the databases to prevent selling to someone who has not passed the gun permit screening. Mental health issues are not always evident to the average person. These discussions will definitely occur in the legislature after the Aurora theater shooting in July, 2012.

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