AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide, 2016

ALVoterGuideThis guide offers AnneLandmanBlog’s opinion on how to vote on candidates and issues in the November 8, 2016 election.

A discussion of the issues follows the recommendations.

Recommendations:

Federal offices:

President/Vice President: Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine

U.S. Senate: Michael Bennet

Representative to U.S. Congress District 3: Gail Schwartz

State Offices:

State Board of Education Member, Congressional District 3: Christine Pacheco-Koveleski

Regent of the University of Colorado, at Large: Alice Madden

State Representative, District 54: Gilbert Fuller

State Representative, District 55: One candidate is running unopposed.

District Attorney, 21st Judicial District: One candidate is running opposed.

County Offices:

(All county residents can vote for all County Commissioners, no matter their district)

County Commissioner, District 1: Mel Mulder

County Commissioner, District 3: David William (Dave) Edwards

Judicial Retention:

After researching their performance records and ratings by the Colorado Commission on Judicial Performance, AnneLandmanBlog recommends retaining all judges on the ballot.

Statewide ballot questions:

Constitutional amendments:

Amendment T – Removes a provision in the state constitution that permits using prisoners for slave labor: Vote YES

Amendment U – Exempts some Colorado citizens who make money using state property from paying tax on their use of that property, purportedly to save the state administrative costs incurred in collecting these relatively small amounts of taxes: Vote NO

Amendment 69: Creates “ColoradoCare,” a non-governmental, universal, single-payer health care system that would cover all Colorado residents, eliminate deductibles and premiums. Would levy a 10% tax to pay for the system, split between employers and employees, 6.67% and 3.33% respectively. Vote YES

Amendment 70: Increases the state-wide minimum wage gradually to $12.00/hour by 2020, and adjusts it annually afterwards to keep up with cost of living: Vote YES

Amendment 71: Makes it far more difficult for citizens to amend the Colorado Constitution: Vote NO
Amendment 72: Raises the cigarette tax to $1.75/pack and increases the state tax on other tobacco products by 22 percent, with funds going towards health-related purposes like smoking cessation: Vote YES

Statutory Amendments:

Proposition 106: The “End of Life Option Act,” allows terminally ill, mentally capable Colorado citizens with a life expectancy of six months or less to request from their doctors, obtain, and if the patient feels it is needed, self-administer enough sleeping medication to shorten their dying process, avoid unbearable suffering and bring about a peaceful death. (Note, this is NOT euthanasia, which is one person killing another to minimize suffering. This measure pertains only to situations in which a terminally ill person would have the right to decide to peacefully and comfortably end his or her own life on his or her own terms): Vote YES

Proposition 107 (statutory): Establishes presidential primaries and allow unaffiliated voters to vote in them: Vote NO

Proposition 108 (statutory): Would allow unaffiliated electors to vote in the primary elections of major political parties without declaring an affiliation with the party: Vote NO

Palisade town ballots: 

Referred Measure 2A: Establishes a municipal excise tax of up to 5% to be levied on retail marijuana sales: Vote YES

Referred Measure 2B: Permits retail marijuana cultivation within the Town of Palisade, subject to Colorado Codes governing retail sales of marijuana: Vote YES

Referred Measure 2C: Allows retail marijuana sales in the Town of Palisade, in accordance with state codes and laws governing retail marijuana sales: Vote YES

Referred Measure 2D: Permits establishment of retail marijuana production and manufacturing facilities within the Town of Palisade, subject to state codes and laws: Vote YES

Referred Measure 2E: Permits retail marijuana testing facilities within the Town of Palisade, subject to state laws: Vote YES

Referred Measure 2F: Allows the Town of Palisade to provide broadband service to residents, businesses, schools, libraries, healthcare facilties and other users inside the town: Vote YES


Discussion:

Presidential race: The only person in the 2016 presidential race who is qualified to be president is Hillary Clinton. She has a track record of public service, experience in higher elected office, understands the political process, has an excellent grasp of world politics and diplomatic experience. There is no contest here. Hillary Clinton for President.

Local issues and candidates:

Vote for Dave Edwards for County Commissioner

Vote for Dave Edwards for County Commissioner

Mesa County Commissioner race: The current county commissioners have had an opportunity to run the county, and the local economy remains in shambles. County employees complain of being treated like they are “disposable.” Hunger and homelessness remain significant issues locally. Three children have died while Rose Pugliese was in charge of the local Department of Social Services and Child Welfare services, and an independent ombudsman recently found a number of faults with Mesa County’s child welfare system. Wages in Mesa County remain among the lowest in the state, our suicide rate is among the highest in the country. Many area residents who qualify for federal food assistance programs are not enrolled, leaving large amounts of federal money on the table that could be circulating and stimulating the local economy. Rose Pugliese is mired in ethics questions and struggling with a malpractice lawsuit from when she worked as an attorney. Justman has taken credit for accomplishments that are not his. By contrast, the candidates challenging Pugliese and Justman — Dave Edwards and Mel Mulder — are greatly concerned about

Mel Mulder for County Commissioner. Mel and Dave will help jump-start our area's economy. Just look at what they've helped do for Fruita and Palisade, respectively.

Vote for Mel Mulder for County Commissioner. Mel and Dave will help jump-start our area’s economy. Just look at what they’ve helped do for Fruita and Palisade, respectively.

local poverty, hunger, child welfare and economics, and are highly motivated to take action to turn the local economy around. They are experienced in local politics, have represented Fruita and Palisade, and both towns that have proven successful in re-making themselves to stimulate their respective local economies. If they are elected together, Mulder and Edwards would instantly make Commissioner Scott McInnis’s single vote moot, and they would start making beneficial changes very quickly if they are both elected.

Amendment 69: “ColoradoCare” – Are you tired of dealing with the confusing, over-complicated, expensive mess created by Obamacare and private health insurance companies? Want to stop paying sky-high insurance premiums, deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays? Want to stop worrying about what doctors are “in network” and which aren’t? Amendment 69 will take the profit motive out of our health care system, simplify health insurance and assure every Colorado citizen is covered, regardless of income. Employees would pay 3.33% of their payroll income. Employers would pay 6.7% — less than the total 12-13% employers now pay to private health insurers to cover their employees. If it passes, ColoradoCare would eliminate the expensive middle man (private insurers), and cover every Colorado resident, regardless of their ability to pay. The amendment is, of course, opposed by the major health insurers and their proxy front groups, who are pouring money into defeating it because it will cut into their profits.

Wendell Potter, former head of corporate communications for the health insurance giant Cigna, says when he worked for Cigna, he led campaigns to defeat efforts similar to Amendment 69 to protect company profits. “With millions of dollars at their disposal,” he says, “industry positions can be broadcast repeatedly and many people end up believing them. They know that if you can create doubt, if you can get people to fear something, they’re much more likely to oppose it and vote against it,” says Potter. “So, that’s what you’ll see and most of the arguments are just, unfortunately, not based on real evidence.”

Let’s face it, health insurance can’t get more cumbersome, confusing and difficult than it already is, but it sure can keep getting more expensive, and it is getting more expensive all the time. Politicians will never enact an alternative system that assures everyone gets adequate coverage and eliminates the excess profits that go to corporate CEOs. But we can do it ourselves and this is our chance. And besides, Amendment 69 is endorsed by Bernie Sanders.

Vote “yes” on Amendment 69.

Amendment 70: Increases Colorado’s minimum wage gradually to $12.00/hour by 2020:

Raising the minimum wage is good for business and stimulates local economies because people have more money to spend at local businesses on gas, groceries and other necessities. In addition, higher wages help employers retain employees, reduce their costs for hiring and training and employees who stay longer create a more efficient, productive work force. Better-paid employees also leads to less employee theft. Mesa County has some of the lowest wages in the state, and it will stay that way unless we take this opportunity to change it through this initiative. Mesa County in particular needs this measure, as wages here have been kept extremely low for a long time, due in large part to the efforts of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, which has long lobbied to keep local wages low. Contrary to what the chamber would have people believe, increasing the minimum wage is actually good for business. Don’t take my word for it, though. Read the real-life example of Costco vs. Sam’s Club, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Minimum Wage Mythbuster, and the positive experiences of Colorado business owners who have voluntarily increased their own entry-level wages to their employees.

Raising the minimum wage will help raise thousands of western Colorado workers out of poverty and boost the local economy — two things we desperately need in Mesa County.

Vote “yes” on Amendment 70.

Voting to restrict your own rights, like Amendment 7 does, is like shooting yourself in the foot

Voting to sharply restrict your own rights, like Amendment 71 does, is like shooting yourself in the foot

Amendment 71: This measure makes it far more difficult and expensive for average Colorado citizens to amend our own state Constitution. Why would citizens vote to weaken their own rights? It doesn’t make sense. Amendment 71 is spearheaded by wealthy corporations led by the oil and gas industry. It is the oil and gas industry’s response to citizen-led efforts in the last few years to get measures on the ballot to protect communities from drilling and fracking. It This amendment makes it MUCH harder for citizens to take action on issues the legislature routinely refuses to act on, like issues affecting health and safety, environmental measures, and modifying the outdated TABOR amendment. In addition, Amendment 71 is supported by all the wrong groups, like Club 20 and state-wide chambers of commerce, including the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. Remember, these groups do not represent the interests of Colorado working people. They represent only the narrow financial interests of the handful of business owners who pay their dues.

Keep your rights intact. Vote “no” on Amendment 71.

Amendment 72: Raises the cigarette tax to $1.75/pack and increases the state tax on other tobacco products by 22 percent, with funds going towards health-related programs like quit lines and smoking cessation assistance.

Of course this is a great idea. The only entity pouring money into opposing Amendment 72 is the Philip Morris tobacco company. You know you can’t trust them.

Any cigarette tax is a good tax because 1) raising the tobacco tax is the single most effective way to reduce smoking rates, 2) it will saves lives and 3) no one has to pay a cigarette tax it if they don’t want to. This one is a no-brainer. Vote “yes” on the cigarette tax!

Propositions:

Proposition 106: The “End of Life Option Act”:  People dying from terminal illnesses should not be forced to suffer agonizing deaths, period. If a terminal person’s pain and suffering can be reduced or eliminated, they should have the option to do it. And look at it this way: you can’t go wrong with voting “yes” on Proposition 106, because if it passes, religious folks don’t have to use it if they don’t want to, and everyone else who wants to use it can use it.  A few people’s religious views should not direct how everyone else in the state should deal with and manage their own terminal illness. A law like this has been working well in Oregon for 20 years now. Letting terminally ill people minimize their own suffering is the right thing to do. Vote “yes” on Prop. 106.

Proposition 107: Establishes presidential primaries and allows unaffiliated voters to vote in them.

Proposition 108: Allows unaffiliated electors to vote in the primary elections of major political parties without declaring any affiliation with the party.

Initially, Propositions 107 and 108 sounded good: Sure, hold primary elections and let everyone vote in them, right. Why not?

But think about this for a minute, and you’ll start seeing the problems with it: Letting unaffiliated voters vote in primary elections is like letting people who live in Montrose vote in Grand Junction City Council elections. Why would we want to do that? Should Democrats have any say who the Republicans’ chosen candidate will be, and should Republicans be able to influence who Democrats choose to be THEIR candidate? Of course not.

The purpose of primary elections is for parties to choose their own candidates. The tag line for Proposition 108 is “Let People Vote,” but everyone already CAN ALREADY vote in primary elections. All they have to do is affiliate with a political party and then they can vote in that party’s primary — they can affiliate and unaffiliate — very easily online, in mere seconds. These propositions are a “fix” for a non-existent problem. Both of these measures are also supported by the wrong groups: they are backed by groups like Club 20 and chambers of commerce, including the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, that do not have the interests of all citizens at heart and that DO NOT advocate on behalf of all Colorado citizens, but only for the narrow, profit-centered interests of the handful of business owners who pay their dues. If the G.J. Chamber is in favor of these propositions, you know they’re bad news. Vote NO on Propositions 107 and 108, and let political parties continue to choose their own candidates.

Palisade Marijuana measures: As of 2012, marijuana is now a legal industry in the state of Colorado. It’s generating a big economic boost to the state through tourism and high-paying jobs in the rest of the state. We desperately need some of that in Mesa County. The “reefer madness” mentality of our old-guard Republican establishment elected officials has held our area back for a long time now. Years have passed since voters approved Amendment 64 and the sky has not fallen. Indeed, even the governor has changed his thinking on the marijuana industry and now supports it. Think of all the additional commerce these measures in Palisade would generate for Mesa County’s economy: more tourism, more business for security companies, accountants, agricultural suppliers, bakeries and restaurants, more warehouse and retail space would get rented, tax revenue would be generated, high paying jobs would be created. If Palisade passes this measure, it will be the first town in I-70 inside Colorado’s western border to offer retail recreational marijuana and Palisade will be well-positioned to scoop up all the cash from tourists pouring into the state from Utah, Arizona and Idaho and California looking for legal pot. These ballot measures are a solid path to prosperity for Palisade, and we hope for the rest of the valley as well.

Go, Palisade.

Vote “yes” on all the pot measures.

 

 

5 comments for “AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide, 2016

  1. jimmy thomas
    October 23, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Hey Anne,
    Re 107 and 108, one might suspect the Chamber likes the odds of a fail rate like in Washington state if the ballot design tends to disenfranchise the “wrong” sort of voter.

    I was going to argue this one with you till I verified that the rules in Colorado are already liberal enough thanks to reforms passed in 2013. See Q3 here: http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/FAQs/VoterRegistrationFAQ.html.

    107 no 108 no.
    -jimmy

    • Anne Landman
      October 24, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Yes, those are some pretty liberal registration rules. You can register to vote in Colorado right up to Election Day.

  2. Larry
    October 11, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    I agree with you on all of them, but one, Amendment 72 is a sin tax which as written doesn’t guarantee the funds will used like they say they will. I’m practically against any tax increases until the state decides to fund schools,and infrastructure. We’ve had ballot initiatives to increase spending on education past elections, which went down in flames. Call me vindictive, but I won’t vote for tax increases that don’t address education.

    • Anne Landman
      October 11, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      Larry, It’s calculated that levying this tax alone will discourage enough smoking to save 20,000 lives. I agree schools desperately need more funding, but taxes need to have a “nexus,” that is, some sort of connection between the tax and what it funds. In this case, a tobacco tax that is used to fund smoking cessation programs, quit lines, etc. has the required nexus. Vote for Amendment 72!

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