Vail Daily letter: Schwartz for Congress | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Schwartz for Congress

By definition, representative government means a person who represents a constituency, a community and different groups of people in a legislative body. This is especially important as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

As a two-term Colorado state senator, representing 11 of the most diverse counties of Western and Southern Colorado, Gail Schwartz had a distinguished legislative record where 95 percent of her bills were bi-partisan. During her stint as our state senator, Gail served as majority whip for two years, as well as the chair of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, the Capital Development Committee, the Water Resources Review Committee and the Senate Local Government Committee. She was also a member of the Business, Labor and Technology Committee. No wonder her colleagues on both sides of the aisle recognized her as the Senate's hardest working member.

Gail Schwartz will bring her leadership skills and ability to work collaboratively to Washington, where we need someone of her stature, who truly understands the importance of representing the needs of the entire 3rd Congressional District, solving problems vs. just playing politics. Scott Tipton has shown his inability to do so in all cases as he has consistently sided and voted not only along party lines but along with his tea-party cronies.

Gail's values are our values. The 3rd Congressional District is comprised largely of public lands. Whereas Scott Tipton has supported his party's stance to transfer our public lands to the states threatening our watershed, our wildlife, our Western heritage, our recreational economy. Gail understands that our public lands must remain in the public domain for all those reasons and more. Of course, Scott Tipton would gladly see the fossil fuel industry run rampant over these lands as with the bill he introduced last year proposing to return federal lands to the states without any environment review. His constituency is one-sided: for industry.

This does not mean Gail is not supportive of a diverse energy plan. Far from it. Sen. Schwartz had a distinguished legislative record building Colorado's new energy economy, diversifying and expanding Colorado's "all the above" energy portfolio. Gail understands the challenge of climate change, while supporting natural gas development in appropriate places as well as coal with methane capture. Scott Tipton seems not to believe in science and, along with his tea-party cronies, dismisses climate change as a hoax.

The 3rd Congressional District recognizes the importance on education from pre-school to high school. Gail served for six years as a member of University of Colorado Board of Regents representing the 36 counties of the 3rd Congressional District. As our state senator, Gail authored and was successful in passing the "BEST Bill" — Building Excellent Schools Today — which has built over $1.25 billion of new K-12 schools. This has been especially important for those more rural and economically challenged communities in the 3rd Congressional District.

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We know the importance of protecting our rivers, our streams, our fisheries from the continued threat of trans-mountain diversions. Gail understands that water is the lifeblood of western and southern Colorado. She understands the threat of climate change and how that will be a game changer when it comes to water, from agricultural use to recreational use to the threat of wildfires. As a state senator, Gail sponsored important legislation protecting water rights, in-stream flows and water quality critical to fish and wildlife habitat. In Congress as she did in the state Senate, Gail will always protect the water interest of the 3rd Congressional District, ensuring adequate supplies for municipal and agricultural uses, protecting our in-stream flows and water quality and guaranteeing that our water always remains pure and safe for our communities.

Unlike Scott Tipton, who voted against equal pay for women as well as continually for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, Gail will fight for women's rights in the workplace and a woman's personal right to choose. In Congress, Gail will strengthen our families by fighting to make the child tax credit permanent — a credit that truly helps working families struggling to make ends meet.

Whereas Scott Tipton supports privatization of Social Security, leaving our seniors at the risk of stock market fluctuations or crashes, Gail will fight against efforts to privatize Social Security, reduce Medicare benefits, or raise the retirement age.

Gail Schwartz's issues are our issues. Gail's record bespeaks a lifetime committed to preserving Colorado's majestic environment, protecting its water, natural resources, agricultural economy and building strong rural communities. Gail will truly be a representative of the people and not of special interest groups. Let's send Gail to Washington as our next U.S. Congress representative for the 3rd District to solve problems, not play politics.

George Newman

Pitkin County commissioner