Lt. governor candidate tours Vail medical center
He picked Colorado Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut from Pueblo, who Heath says has the broad-based legislative experience that Heath, with his business background, feels he lacks.
Last week, Thiebaut toured the expanded Vail Valley Medical Center to view the new $7 million Women’s and Children’s Center and the Vail Valley Surgical Center. He used the visit to talk about health care issues.
“We’re right on target on major issues. We are really a team,” Thiebaut said. “The governor’s health policy seems to be “don’t’ get sick.'”
Thiebault, 54, has served seven years in the state House of Representatives and nine in the Senate, where he his voting record is pro-labor, pro-choice and pro-environment. He continues to operate a law practice in Pueblo while being a full-time legislator. He is term-limited from serving another consecutive term in the Senate.
He and Heath met when Heath’s wife Josie ran for the U.S. House of Representatives 10 years ago. They clicked, both say.
“Gov. Romer kept the needs of people high on his agenda,” Thiebaut said Wednesday. “Rollie and I offer a choice. By empowering people we give them the opportunity to prosper.”
In an interview earlier this year, Thiebaut criticized Owens’ lack of leadership on transportation, education, health and other matters.
“Health care costs continue to soar. Couples are working two jobs each and it’s not enough,” he said. “We’ve got working destitute.”
The race is boiling down to “a race for the American Dream,” he said.
He proposed creating a statewide insurance pool that would spread the cost of insurance and therefore, cover preventative health screening for men and women. Thiebaut also fought, unsuccessfully, for a Patients Bill of Rights, he said.
Thiebaut also doesn’t mince words on Owens’ educational stances.
“Our governor doesn’t think the three Rs are reading, “riting and “rithmetic,” Thiebaut said. “He thinks they’re roads, roads, roads, in Denver, and he’s using (Colorado Department of Transportation Director) Tom Norton to do it.”
Thiebaut said he sponsored the School Finance Act to increase funding for schools. He adds that he’s familiar with the needs of families because he and his wife, Mary Ann, have 15 children – ranging from 34 to 9 years old.
On his frequent campaign swings he brings one of his children with him to expose them to the electoral process.
“I’ve tried to teach them they need to give more than they receive,” he said. “It’s good experience for them.”
The now largely invisible Lt. Governor’s Office can have a more influential role by helping the governor state set policy, Thiebaut said, by championing a series of summit meetings on issues such as agricultural problems, chronic wasting disease, wildfires, water problems or transportation.
“I’m not just going to be a shadow in the halls of the capitol,” he said.
On the issue of the chronic wasting disease sickening deer and elk herds in Colorado – and on which a $500 million hunting industry is based – Thiebaut said, “We need to err on the side of safety for humans.”
He acknowledged his and Heath’s campaign will be an “uphill battle.” But, he said, there’s still a lot of time for people to change their minds.
“I am never daunted by tasks like this,” he said. “I have always been an underdog.”
Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or firstname.lastname@example.org