GYPSUM — Rep. Scott Tipton faced what may have been some of his toughest questions when he stopped by Stone Creek Charter School’s Gypsum campus.
Tipton met with Stone Creek’s entire student body Thursday.
He explained that Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District is 54,000 square miles, larger than Florida, and is home to about 714,000 constituents. When he drives from the one end of the district to the other he obeys all of the speed limits, and it takes him 17 hours.
Then he opened it up for questions, and they came rapid fire.
The Stone Creek students knew the three branches of the federal government and that he worked in the House of Representatives, the People’s Branch. A third-grader knew our federal government is a republic.
‘WHAT’S IT LIKE?’
“What’s it like to be in Congress?” asked one of the middle schoolers.
“It’s a great privilege to step onto the floor of the House of Representatives. I still get a tingle when I walk up to the White House,” Tipton said.
He launched a business after he graduated college and ran for Congress when his daughters graduated high school.
“Does a congressman solve problems?” asked another student, as the adults in the room chuckled.
“Some people say they create problems, but our goal is to help solve problems,” Tipton said.
“What’s your stance on global warming?” asked one eighth-grade boy.
“I grew up in Cortez, and I learned early that the climate is always changing,” he said. “What I also learned is that we should be doing things in a responsible fashion.”
“We’re all environmentalists,” he said “Everyone here loves clean air and clean water. We should make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep them clean.”
‘What Is A Democrat?’
Tipton’s only slight hesitation came when one student asked, “What is a Democrat?”
Tipton, a Republican, smiled and explained that the United States has two major political parties. He played it straight.
“Generally speaking, Republicans like smaller government and lower taxes. Democrats seem to think that government can play a larger role … but I’m hesitant to define what a Democrat is. I’ll leave it to Democrats to define themselves,” he said.
He answered a question about Edward Snowden by explaining that while he’s concerned about overreach by government agencies, he’s equally concerned about information Snowden likely made available to Russia and China.
“Because Mr. Snowden is ensconced in Russia, it’s safe to say he shared the information with the Russians, and I think it hurt this country,” Tipton said. “They now have some information that potentially could put American lives at risk.”
He didn’t vote for the government shutdown, he said, and he voted to remove the mandatory payment from Obamacare, saying that after giving breaks and reprieves to unions and others, it was wrong to penalize individual Americans. So the House of Representative asked that it be removed.
“Now the Senate is putting forward proposals to do exactly what we asked for,” Tipton said.
Marijuana is on most Coloradan’s minds, and Tipton is no different. Colorado voters have spoken repeatedly and clearly … and yet he says he believes we can be better.
“Americans built the biggest buildings and the best ships. We’re still the world leaders. I believe we can be more and be better than manufacturing the best high.”
This is Tipton’s third election.
“How nervous were you during the elections?” asked a student.
“The first election I was nervous because I wasn’t supposed to win. Only two people believed I could win, my wife and myself. Even my daughters were skeptical,” Tipton said. “We’ll always have elections because we’ll always have people on the opposite sides of issues. I’ve never claimed to know all the answers. I know what I think, but I’m always willing to listen ... there’s always anxiety because you run to win. You don’t run to lose.”
Democrat Abel Tapia, former state senator from Pueblo, is running against Tipton.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.