Election Guide 2016: Q&A with Randy Baumgardner
Bio: I was born in Indiana and have lived in Grand County for over 22 years. I worked for the Colorado Department of Transportation for 11 years. My wife, Lori, and I operate a cattle ranch between Hot Sulphur Springs and Granby. We have one son Mathew, who attends Grand County schools.
Q. What are you doing or what would you do to help important transportation issues move forward in Colorado?
A. I have for the last two years worked on legislation to provide funding for and to provide jobs for the construction of roads and other transportation projects for the State of Colorado. I serve as chairman of the Transportation Legislation Review Committee. This is a joint House and Senate committee, which can review any part of Colorado Department of Transportation operations including highway and bridge repairs, paving and many other important topics. This gives me direct input into transportation issues impacting our state and my district.
Q. Colorado is experiencing a surge in opioid abuse and related overdose deaths. What measures do you think can be enacted by the state legislature to combat this growing epidemic?
A. Since 2013 the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids has become a public health crisis in Colorado. I am sad to say this has led to drug addiction. The terrible consequence of addiction can be death. In order to address this crisis, I support educating our citizens on the dangers of misuse of opioids, efforts to have citizens “take-back” unused prescription opioids, as well as addiction treatment and recovery.
Q. Wild fires are destructive and expensive to Colorado. How do you think the state can improve mitigation programs to reduce those fires?
A. I support the continuation of programs like Firewise, state and federal agencies working together to decide which fires to fight and which to monitor. This problem can be helped by looking at more ways to promote fire mitigation through local and state programs on forest health. I also support selective removal of standing dead and dead-fall trees to make our forests healthier and reduce the danger of wildfires.
Q. If you are elected, what are your top three legislative priorities and how will you work to get them accomplished?
A. My top three priorities are transportation infrastructure, West Slope water protection and protection of energy production and the jobs that go along with energy.
Q. In order to balance the 2017 budget, what budgetary issues must be solved and how would you address those issues?
A. The expansion of Medicaid has to be reviewed. According to statistics, approximately 100,000 people are moving to Colorado every year, and many of them end up on Medicaid. The number of studies on any number of issues is also a drag on the budget. There are many more issues impacting our budget. Expanding more and more state government programs continues to make the budget harder to balance. I will work to control unnecessary expansion of these programs.
Q. Do you support keeping public lands public? Please explain why or why not.
A. Yes, I support keeping public lands public. And also, these lands must remain multiple use. Right now there are many areas that are experiencing roads and other accesses being temporarily closed or shut down completely. If these are public lands then the public should have the ability access to them.
Q. What are your strategies for protecting existing energy jobs in your district while at the same time preparing for a future that could rely more and more on alternative sources of energy?
A. I will work to have agencies work together to find common ground on energy development. I will fight over-regulation by agencies or special interests that are killing good-paying energy jobs. I support all types of energy development as long as the playing field is equal and the government is not picking winners and losers.
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Routt County’s Human Resources Coalition has outlined a three-year plan to help vulnerable county residents, putting particular focus on affordable housing, transit and mental health.