Scanlan, Hasan square off |

Scanlan, Hasan square off

EAGLE, Colorado ” State House District 56 candidates Ali Hasan and Christine Scanlan differed on affordable housing, pine beetles, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and Interstate 70 traffic at a debate Wednesday.

Scanlan, the Democrat incumbent, touted the passage of the 11 bills she sponsored.

“As a freshman, that was a terrific thing for me,” she said, adding that she’ll push for education reform in another term.

But Hasan, the Republican challenger, said local legislators have to stop “playing patty-cake” with Denver lawmakers.

“I’m not going to pass 11 bills,” he said. “I’m going to get forest health on the statewide ballots, to get monorails on the statewide ballots, and I’m going to try to help small businesses here so their regulations are low, and then I’m going to travel around the state promoting those issues.”

Hasan wants a statewide ballot to approve a $5 billion monorail along I-70 using private funds, federal grants and ski-pass revenue ” and perhaps a tax increase.

“Enough study,” he said. “It’s time to build.”

Scanlan said the monorail would cost much more, from $9 billion to $12 billion, and the community needs to be “thoughtful” about the ramifications of a monorail ” including whether a monorail would make Summit County a bedroom community of Denver.

“The taxpayers are going to ask some really tough questions about why this is a good idea for the state of Colorado,” she said.

The Democrat was part of a committee that advocated widening the interstate in certain places to relieve traffic.

House District 56 includes Eagle, Lake and Summit counties. Scanlan was appointed to the seat last year.

Beetles, housing

On the pine-beetle epidemic, Scanlan advocated getting the federal government to pay for treating forests to prevent catastrophic wildfires. She recently returned from a trip to the nation’s capital to lobby for $200 million in federal funds for forest treatment.

“We have to get after Washington, D.C.,” she said. “Most of this epidemic is on federal land.”

Hasan said he wants to change U.S. laws to allow local governments to cut down trees on federal lands. He said he’d go as far as pushing for a lawsuit against the federal government to change the law.

He also said he “pioneered” a pheromone treatment to repel pine beetles.

“It frustrates me because nobody actually introduced this method of trying to ward off pine beetles,” he said.

Beaver Creek resident Hasan said counties should issue letters of credit to public employees to help them buy homes.

“The main thing when it comes down to affordable, attainable housing is we want to make sure we have public school teachers, our firefighters, our police officers here in our communities,” Hasan said.

Scanlan said she’s not sure that’s a good idea.

“The last thing I would want to see is a local county government being held liable for their employees’ mortgages,” she said.

Creative or too creative?

TABOR is not working, Scanlan said.

“No other state in the union has passed TABOR given its failings in Colorado,” she said.

Hasan said he loves TABOR.

“We need to make it stronger,” he said. “We have four pieces of sacred text in our house: the Bible, the Quran, the Torah and the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.”

The Dillon Democrat said she appreciates Hasan’s “creative” ideas but isn’t sure they will be able to fly.

“I sometimes feel he doesn’t necessarily have the entire strategy mapped out in a way that thinks through all of the potential effects of the policy that is going to be created,” Scanlan said. “Frankly, that’s one of the tougher jobs you have to do down at the Capitol. You can’t just write a law without looking at all the ramifications.”

Hasan, on the other hand, said his big ideas are going to fill a Western Slope leadership void.

“I think it’s time we need a voice from the Western Slope that’s very strong,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or

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