by Rick Langenberg:
Several weeks ago, this column offered picks for the key ballot issues facing voters on Nov. 4.
Now, here are some suggestions for a few candidates for top offices under consideration in the mid-term election from the view of an Independent, without major ties to either party.
Teller County Sheriff—Mark Manriquez, Unaffiliated. As expected, this duel between Mark Manriquez and Incumbent Sheriff Mike Ensminger has turned into quite a tussle, almost bringing back memories of former fights for the top law officer in Teller County. That is quite a relief from previous closed-door races, usually decided months ahead at the GOP Assembly and caucuses.
Contrary to some of the claims from the competing camps, both candidates are solid people and have good attributes. Mike Ensminger has made improvements in opening up the office, compared to previous sheriffs, and has established good relations with the commissioners. His strident pro-Second Amendment talk is encouraging. However, the fact remains that the dismal rate of officer turnover within the department and the explosive level of lawsuits over the last four years is just not satisfactory. This has created an uncomfortable atmosphere, especially in talking with former deputies, and clashes with the sheriff’s promises when he first ran for office. In addition, certain ties between the sheriff’s office and such important groups as Teller Search and Rescue, appear strained, and that is unfortunate.
As a result, my pick goes to Mark Manriquez, who has an outstanding background in law enforcement in California and Colorado and could establish a much better agency management and training system. Plus, I am quite impressed with his open forums, allowing questions from all residents, even those who may disagree with the candidate’s platform. Manriquez’ desire to open up the race to unaffiliated folks and Dems is also admirable. They are part of Teller County too, even though certain local Republican leaders want them removed from society.
Colorado Governor—Bob Beauprez, Republican. Incumbent John Hickenlooper is a good guy and was a great mayor of Denver. But as governor, he has displayed a disdain for rural Colorado. More disturbing, he openly declared war against the gaming communities, shortly after taking office by axing the gambling commissioners for lowering the taxes. In addition, his waffling on such strategic issues as gun control and the death penalty, is bothersome. If Hickenlooper is in office again, local leaders may have to fear him favoring laws that that would hurt Cripple Creek gaming and Teller County. A Beauprez governorship could definitely improve relations between our county and the state government.
Currently, the top Teller government officials have found themselves looking over their shoulder constantly to see what the governor is going to do to them next. Beauprez also has appeared to learn from his previous mistakes, when he sought the governor’s position in a disastrous campaign against Bill Ritter, to now give a once popular incumbent governor his walking papers. Hickenlooper would be a better fit as a vice-president for a Democratic presidential nominee in 2016 or as a state economic development leader.
U. S. Senator—Mark Udall, Democrat. This pick may not be too popular with many Tellerians. And quite frankly, both Udall and his prime opponent, Republican Cory Gardner, deserve a D-minus in campaign ethics. I was almost tempted to give my support to Libertarian Matthew Hess. Both Udall and Gardner have greatly exaggerated their opponent’s flaws and have spent way too much money. My support for Udall is based on talking with him personally at a small town forum and witnessing his support for civil liberties, and even bucking those in his own party regarding this issue. Plus, it’s encouraging have an athletic U.S. Senator from Colorado who has scaled Mt. Everest and many other mountains in his lifetime and plays close to a 2-handicap in golf (whenever he gets the chance). He has a stronger commitment to Colorado than Gardner, who is still plagued by some bizarre stands on certain issues pertaining to women.
District 5, U.S. Congress—Irv Halter, Democrat. If incumbent Doug Lamborn wins this race, as expected, no big deal. This pick is more of a protest gesture. Doug’s refusal to debate his opponent during the campaign is quite disturbing. In witnessing Lamborn at local forums in Teller County, he has spoken quite well, but he has reaped the benefits of dealing with an ultra, pro-Republican crowd. His resistance to engage in candidate forums throughout his career is downright disrespectful to local voters, and especially Democrats and Independents. The fact that he barely escaped the GOP primary race with a win indicated a definite weakness in the “Only Doug for District 5” stance. Plus, some of his comments, such as encouraging military generals to resign in protest against President Obama’s policies, don’t bode well for the District’s interests.
As for my previous picks for key ballot issues, here a few reminders:
Amendment 67 (Definition of Person and Child)—No
Amendment 68 (Racetrack Casino Gambling)—No
Proposition 104 (School Board Meeting Requirements)—Yes
Proposition 105 (Labeling Genetically Modified Food)—No
2A (Woodland Park Aquatic Center)—Yes
2G (Ban against retail marijuana establishments in Manitou Springs)—No
But whatever you do, don’t forget to vote on or prior to Nov. 4.